My Adventure Story
The final aspect of our journey called for us to venture deep into the Andes to find a small community called Punka Marca. It's near here that we're told a series of really ancient sites would be found. Among these, a series of caves where dwellings would be found inside the mountain - complete with mummies and artifacts.
We got a late start and decided to use the day to find our way to the embarkation point we would use the next day - the main plaza of this small village. The trip was to simply get there and leave so we would know how to schedule our time.
The drive was fantastic. Few have a chance to see the vast wilderness of this area. The road winds through monumental mountain vistas. These roads are typically used for large trucks on their way to or from the numerous gold mines found here. Yes, this is one of the richest gold producing areas in the world. The roads are pretty good for the most part until you get off the beaten path. Then, the road turns to mud and gravel. This is the road we eventually needed to take. Not more in places than a pair of dirt pathways leading up the mountainside.
We eventually reached the village of Punka Marca and were met by about a dozen men - all whom wanted to know why we were there and what the hell did we want! We clearly weren't welcomed. To make matters worse, it had started to drizzle. These primitive roads would quickly disappear with a heavier downpour. Being Friday, the men - we quickly discovered - were drunk and becoming wild. Violence was what we expected next. We quickly stashed our camera gear, locked the doors and slowly drove through the men, and out of the village. We felt lucky no stones were thrown, or violence erupted.
I was pretty scary. Locals in the next town told us this was the day the man could be expected to get drunk. They just got paid and were ready to release their tensions. We just happened to show up at the wrong time of the week.
We drove back to Cajamarca through heavy storms, flooded streets and thick fog. It was tough going traveling in the dark the last 30 miles of twisting roads. A further concern, though we saw no evidence of this, was the potential of bandits. It's a commonly known thing you do not drive on these roads much after dark. There have been roadblocks, disabled cars meant to stop the unweary traveler. Once stopped, men with guns rob the driver and passengers of all they have. In the case of "Gringo's", they might be a bit more determined to take what they want.
Yes, this is a wild, and sometimes dangerous place. It is a risk to travel here. But, there are fantastic things to find here. And it's not the first time Kathy & I have ventured into a dangerous area. It's usually within these areas you find the best material. Unfortunately, this trip was not to be so fulfilling.
We have heard the roads are now impassable. After all the time and planning, and costs to do this, we cannot return until perhaps next year, if at all. To redeem our trip, we have a back-up plan. Tomorrow, if all goes well, we'll investigate something as unusual as anything we have seen to date.
More to come.... The Adventures Continue - - - - - -