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pre-industrial

PERÚ: CAJAMARCA — CAJABAMBA

Ah, mountains! The sky. The road. The people.

In Perú, in the mountains you enter a pre-industrial world. On the roads between Cajamarca and Cajabamba I am passed by half a dozen combustion engine vehicles, at the most. And while some villages are on the grid, just about everything is still done by hand, and power is used for little more than lighting. The industrial revolution might never have happened.

After reaching Jesús, a few kilometres from Cajamarca, the road rises steeply up into the hills...

... in a series of switchbacks.

Below.

Above.

Man and donkey in the morning light.

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Everyone chews coca leaves around here and carries a little gourd with some kind of alkaline substance which activates the leaves stimulant properties.

A couple shear a sheep by hand with a couple of pairs of small cheap plastic handled scissors...

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... while this girl unpicks a sweater to recycle the yarn.

Another man walking an agave lined road. People here have learnt to walk at the same relaxed pace as their animals.

Women spin away the days, with their children on the their backs, as they walk from here to there.

A man trains a fine looking horse.

Wheat. It's a spectacularly beautiful plant, I think.

Pine trees and a laguna would provide a fine campsite later in the day - unfortunately it is way too early, so I stop there for lunch instead, so beguiled by the place that it is only later that I realise it is just 11AM.

The road rises steadily.

The country looks a lot like some of the high country in New Mexico and Arizona.

Passing through...

...villages.

A family picking their crop of potatoes...

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The woman wasn't exactly unhappy to have her photo taken but she was ashamed at the state of her hat, with it's worn brim. I assure her nobody will notice. (So I shouldn't have pointed it out, I guess.)

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Potatoes, but not as we know them. It's a colourful crop.

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Family transport. This woman, also, was a little reluctant to be photographed because she wasn't wearing her formal Sunday best.

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After the summit the road drops down towards Cachachi.

Rock wall. Wheat. Sky.

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In Cachachi, hand made bricks dry in the sun...

... while in the village square...

... a woman sits crochetting an intricate blanket.

It'll take her about two months to finish the job and she going to charge about $50 for it.

It takes a while to search out bread. The village is small and visitors are infrequent so none of the shops are marked in any way. Acting on the advice of locals, I brave the guard rooster and knock on an anonymous door. A woman finally emerges and after a lengthy interrogation, as to my needs and desires, somewhat reluctantly provides me a bag of bread.

Further up the road I spot a woman outside her house setting up...

... her next weaving project. She keeps saying there is nothing to see yet...

... but I am impressed already.

Back in the main square, under the amused and curious eyes of the locals, I hard-boil a potful of eggs to sustain me on the next leg of my journey. Women, who just about all cook over smoky wood fires, are amazed and impressed by my stove.

The fields are ploughed by hand, using ox power.

Every house has corn hanging outside to dry.

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A lot of houses have a wood fired oven outside but I haven't even seen one in use.

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Approaching Cajabamba, a woman gives me directions to the highway. As I start to ride off she calls after me, "Have you eaten?" and insists that I sit down and eat a bowl of hearty barley soup.

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