Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The law of the jungle

Rio Marañon in Chachapoyas
photo - Omar Carbajal ©PromPeru 

After their extended stay in the Casma valley, the Marañon expedition headed north up the Pacific coast continuing past Trujillo towards Pacasmayo. On the way they investigated ruins in the Nepeña, Santa, Moche and Jequetepeque valleys. Then they turned inland. 

By the beginning of October they were in Cajamarca. From here on they were in the highlands, where in Yanakancha, Tello and Hernan stopped to investigate an obelisk in the courtyard of the Yanakancha hacienda

The monolith depicted a human and feline figure on opposing sides, and I have always been keen to discover its location because of a family photo that we have with Hernan proudly standing beside it. Well at least now I know where it was. But, intriguingly, whilst researching for this post I also discovered that no one seems to know where it is now.

Striking further east the team finally reached Cochabamba. By now they were penetrating the densely forested sub-tropical highlands of the Amazonian Andes. This is the land of the Chachapoyas – the cloud people.   

Inca legend talks of the cloud people as being a tall warrior race, fair of skin and hair.  Nowadays the great Chachapoyas fortress of Kuelap draws tourists to this remote north eastern region of Peru. Rivalling Machu Pichhu and Sacsayhuaman, the large compound clings to a rocky slope 3,000 metres above sea level, its huge defensive walls more than 20 metres high.

I get the idea from this story that Hernan was not too keen on the tropics.

The law of the jungle
In which Hernan and Tello are assigned a curious task by a diminuitive figure in a pink hat

There's nowhere more quite like purgatory than the boondocks in November. In the whole of the two weeks that we were in Cochabamba (Chachapoyas) we never saw the sun once, and our shoes and feet were never dry. For those of us who were members of the Archaeological Expedition to the Marañon River, our memories of Cochabamba will forever be the forest, the rain, the fog, the fireflies and the singing of the birds sitting shriveled and soaking wet in the trees.