The Huancabamba valley downwards (no flight)

 

grafik_inca grafik_inca

In the attempt, to follow the route of the spanish conquistadores I continued the river downward. There was only one launch possibility along the way, but because of the hard to estimate flying conditions I did not dare to take off. I had already given up my original plan, to fly along the valley because of the demanding thermal conditions in Huancabamba. Considering only the amount and strength of thermals it certainly would have been possible.
Again this was an area where most rarely foreigners take a stroll, but it is a beautiful river valley with very friendly inhabitants.

 

 

Behind Sondrillo the river becomes canyon-like narrow, so usually one has to take a detour over Chirimoyo at 2440 m (chiri = cold, mayo = river or muyu = ball). From there it descends again to the river valley at 1500 m.
View from the pass: To fly or not to fly, that is the question...

A. v. Humboldt: "Since the old magnificent Inca road has not been preserved, we had to cross the Rio Huancabamba twentyseven times, each time under danger. The river has a width of 30 - 40 m, and when it rises, you have to swim."

 

Down in the hot river valley again, beautiful bromelia, sponging flowers in larger host plants, here a cactus. Only a few meters away from the river it is desert-like dry.

 

Again and again detours around the meandering river. Here I tried to wade through the current but it pulled me inside dragged me along together with my paraglider and all the stuff in my backpack so everything got washed thoroughly.
Every green spot at the river bank contains a charca, a small isolated garden, where bananas, oranges, cane or lemons are cultivated. Corn or potatoes prosper better 800 m further above at the slopes. Settlements down here and high above are trading year round along strenuous steep paths.

 

Perfect camouflage. How many donkeys are in this picture?

 

Last time crossing the river. The little boy that shows me the right place gets a little book with stories. Again I am amazed about the effect. He is completely fascinated and sits down to start reading immediately. The next shop is quite far from here.

Here in Sulaca/Polvasa starts the dirt track along the river which leads to the road Chiclayo-Chachapoyas. The village inhabitants tell me that a truck will be arriving at midnight to go back again river downwards.

From the diary:
"For the last time I cook the everlasting rice with chicken broth in the evening and wait. Indeed punctually at midnight two heavily loaded trucks arrive. They contain everything, that has to be brought here from the city, among other things many hundredweights of artificial fertilizers.

Wrapped into thick blankets the newly arrived campsinos and their wives sit down next to their property and wait for the dawn, when they will haul their goods by mules to their adobe houses. On the return trip I am therefore the first and only passenger on the truck. The loading area of approx. 2,5 x 6 m with high side panels is all for me alone. At half height wooden boards are fastened, under them straw for animals. It's a snug and comfortable place to watch the night during the ride along the warm river valley.

After some kilometers I help loading heavy coal bags which are to be brought to the market. In the next village the first campesino women with their bundles and children mount as well, then a boy with two sheep, three goats and a pig, then more and more campesinos with goods for the market. Next a Campesino with nine(!) pigs enters, then one with various poultry. It's getting tight. Two goats, which no longer can pass over the loading ramp, are seized by their horns, lifted over the high side panels and then stowed away from above between the squealing pigs. At each stop the bright headlights attract thousands of insects, which in turn bring crowds of bats with them. It is like wonderland.

When I just thought now it's been enough, the boat is full, (it is three o'clock in the morning and we are all half asleep) the rear hatch is opened, all bundles are thrown to the front, passengers are pushed forward, the coal bags get piled up anew until one third of the area in the back is completely free.

In there stepped: A stately young black bull with long horns. Since he finds himself in an unwonted environment, he immediately starts to take it apart. Once he makes half a jump over the barrier of coal bags and everybody flees frightened into a corner in the front of the truck. But since he is fastened at his horns he only twists his neck and all of us hope that the hemp-rope's gonna keep...

After six hours of travel, at dawn in Pucara (= fortress, quetch.) at the end of the Huancabamba valley I jump off. I quit the old Inka route and take a huge detour to Chachapoyas, with flights above the cloud forest.

The original direct way from Pucara to Cajamarca, where the crucial battle happened is quite strenuous and awkward nowadays. Some historians say that the conquest of the Inka empire by the Spaniards has been so fast and successful only, because the well developed road system of the Inkas had been at their disposal. If they only would have arrived just five hundred years later, their crusade would have utterly failed...

 


----------------------------------------------- With a paraglider above the Inca roads -----------------------------------------------