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HUANUCO AND THE CHARM OF ITS PROVINCES

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HUANUCO AND THE CHARM OF ITS PROVINCES

This was a journey that began almost unwillingly. I wanted to go somewhere totally different to what I already knew though I did not want to go by myself. I called some friends who cherished the idea of getting out of Lima, so that is how after making a few calls to excuse ourselves at work due to a sudden illness, an unavoidable business trip, or an urgent visit to a relative living in the provinces, we all were ready to abandon the City. Sometimes one has to let oneself be driven by the wind and seize the chance of doing something different; now we only needed to choose a destination.

Janice suggested going to Huánuco and staying at her aunt's house. No one knew neither exactly where it was nor what was there to do, though it did not seem to matter that much.

Juan and I were in charge of buying the bus tickets and the following night we were all at the terminal. The buses are fairly comfortable and the trip is animated by an endless number of turns, which add a quota of thrill; however, no one could imagine that what seem funny and amusing now, days later would take our breath away.

After about eight hours on the road we arrived in Huánuco, capital of the homonymous Department; at least we have already learnt something. We took a taxi and gave the driver all the indications we could, for Janice had forgotten where the house was and we had no clue on how to get there.

We went round and round for a while until the taxi driver run out of patience and dropped us at spot on the highway that best resembled our description of the place. The cell phones had no signal, the heat was rising and the backpacks were becoming much heavier.

We found the place after a long hard walk. It was a huge house, perhaps from the colonial period, with high ceilings and plaster decorations on the doorframes and the ceilings. We found room at a separated cabin sitting on the far end of the property, we dropped our backpacks and sat down, after a deadly battle with the mosquitoes, to try and find out what was there to do in here.

Janice's aunt recommended us to go and visit Kotosh, Tomayquichua, some neighbouring haciendas, and of course Tingo Maria. We went to take a walk along the Plaza de Armas (Main Plaza) with a clearer idea of what to do, while our battle with the mosquitoes continued.

Discovering history

Huánuco is located at about 1900 metres above sea level on the limit separating the sierra and the forest. The City maintains its colonial characteristics resulting from its condition as a gateway to the forest for the religious missions. The Cathedral, a construction with an imposing architecture that houses a beautiful collection of paintings by the School of Cusco, is a nice example of that period.

Once the compelling City tour was completed, we took a taxi bound to the archaeological site of Kotosh, at about 10 kilometres from the City, after purchasing several bottles of mosquito repellent. An entirely blue sky, a landscape with abundant vegetation and the cool air getting into our lungs, made us feel totally elated.

Our kind taxi driver decided to stay in the place until we finished our tour in order to take us back to the City. The locals are very nice people with an easy talk and an unmatchable charisma. We crossed the hanging bridge built over the course of the River Higueras, not before jumping on it and rocking its ropes like children to scare those who hated the idea of crossing it.

The word Kotosh means Stone Mounds, and that is one of the characteristics on these constructions, which resemble, literally, stone mounds. There is a small slab of stone in the centre of one of its patios, where our guide told us to stand at and yell as hard as we could. You get a pretty awkward feeling out of it, as if a swirl of energy pulls you downwards. After screaming in several tones and with our throats already sore, we asked the guide for the purpose of such a place, and he predictably replied that it was used on a sort of ceremonial ritual the kind of which he could not specify.

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