It's been a really long time since I wrote a blog :/ I guess life really caught up to me in 2016!
I had gone to quite a few places since then, too; I went back to the states to Texas & Colorado to settle visa issues and do Thanksgiving back home, went to Cajamarca & Cuzco, & visited Brazil!
I'll start with my winter vacation - my first destination was Cajamarca. I went with my boyfriend Bismarck. It was a special place for both of us since it's the capital of the province where I first lived in Peru, and for Bismarck he used to live there as a boy and still has family there.
Iglesia Belén at night
I got lots of pretty sunset pictures of the city
Bismarck taking a video of the city
Mountains in the distance
The main square at night
We went in November for my winter vacation - I try to take every opportunity I can to travel to the Andes, I absolutely love them. It was also an opportunity to revisit places in Cajamarca I had missed and for Bismarck to show me his side of his former home as well as meet the family.
Cajamarca province is most known throughout Peru for its dairy products - it produces cheeses, dulce de leche, and other milk products that are sold throughout Peru - and for mining - it is home to the controversial Yanacocha mine and has had a recent history of mining-related social unrest.
"No to Conga" writing on the hillside visible from the main plaza - Conga is a highly contested mine located near Cutervo, Cajamarca
The city of Cajamarca is circled by mountains, and is filled with beautiful Spanish tiled roofs, much like Cuzco. It is the capital of the Cajamarca province. It's also actually the place where the Spanish first really began their takeover of the Incas - Cajamarca is where Pizarro and his men took the Inca king Atahualpa in a surprise attack, kept him in a room while they demanded gold from his subjects, and eventually executed him.
View of the main cathedral from inside the Cuarto de Rescate - the room where Pizarro demanded ransom from the Inca Atahualpa.
Cajamarca city is just absolutely beautiful. It has fantastic Spanish architecture and has so many hidden gems. It has beautiful hot springs in a lovely setting. We went one day to Laguna Seca to swim in the hot springs and enjoy the beautiful setting.
And my favorite nighttime spot is Usha Usha, a "trova" style peña where musician and composer Jaime plays with his band, Victor & Efrain. It's a lovely experience - the room is intimate, allowing you to get to know the band and other people visiting. You're invited to take part in the singing and to play an instrument. It's such a wonderful experience, definitely go if you come to Cajamarca.
from left to right - Victor, Jaime, & Efrain playing in Usha Usha
Excellent pisco sours made by Jaime's son Efrain in Usha Usha
And the food! We had some fantastic food!
Fried lentil appetizer before some amazing "parrillada" (BBQ) at Paco's Grill
Fried cuy at the market. We just had coffee and bread with cheese, haha.
Eating lopetines in the the main square - delicious little popcicles (chupetines) made by the Lopez family in the main square. So good! Bismarck's mom later got me the recipe :)
We got to see Bismarck's grandparents and cousins - they filled us full of Cajamarquino food and we were able to rest and relax with the family in their lovely house in central Cajamarca.
We also did a little tourism, including seeing the museum at the San Francisco convent. The museum was a little sparse, but it was a nice way to pass the afternoon.
The entrance to the Convento San Francisco museum
We also went with Bismarck's cousin to visit el Santuario de la Virgin del Rosario in Polloc, a nearby town in Cajamarca province. It's a beautiful church made with gorgeous glass mosaics from the on-site workshop called Don Bosco.
Outside the sanctuary
The sanctuary itself
There were also beautiful wood carvings
Bismarck took my picture
Bismarck outside the sanctuary
Next we went to Porcón, an agricultural cooperative outside the city of Cajamarca, where we went hiking, ate some of the best food Cajamarca has to offer, and learned about the history and society that exists there. It deserves its own separate blog, so that one is coming up next :)