It is a rural Town with a main avenue that is kind of a boulevard, with an immense market and several restaurants and shops on one side. The imposing presence of Sleeping Beauty can be seen on the background. It is a range of mountains called Puma Ringri that resembles a laying woman, an image we had seen countless of times in our geography books, which now displayed itself magnificent before us.
In spite of the hour, we decided to look for a restaurant and have lunch before continuing with our City tour along Tingo. They all offered typical dishes totally unknown to us so we went to the most attended place. We ordered tacacho with cecina, juane, agouti meat and chifles, accompanied with cocona juice. We did not have the slightest idea of what each dish consisted of, though lunch was pretty good in the end.
Like no other place
We look for Michael Schumacher with renewed energy in order to go and visit the Cave of the Owls, in Tingo Maria National Park. We get to the foot of Sleeping Beauty and the vegetation invades everyplace. We follow the ample path leading to a long flight of stairs, which we climb slowly to avoid suffocating.
Once at the top of the stairs we come to a halt and to admire something surely none of us had previously seen in our lifetimes. Before us, in the middle of the mountain, was a huge cave mouth showing an immense cave of limestone with stalactites hanging from the ceiling and with curious figure stones all over the place, as minute woods of stone.
The smell is quite strong because the cave is the habitat of hundreds of bats that cover the entire ceiling. The first section has a wooden catwalk with a railing that we follow cautiously while we walk into the shadows, into the guts of the earth. The cave starts to reduce and the catwalk goes no more, now we have to step on the ground or rather on manure. We are filled with mixed emotions of awe and fear.
Now we are by ourselves, the other tourists have already left, so we hold tide our torches and watch every square metre of this cave's walls. Erick points out a strange figure on the wall at the far end, something resembling a man running away from the cave when suddenly a very loud noise, sounding like a roar, makes us flee the place. Later we would find out that that was the sound of the oilbirds, another flying species inhabiting the cave.
We stay around the place a little longer, watching the cave from its entrance and we feel the satisfaction of having known a place like no other, the objective of our trip has been fulfilled.
We finally walk along the Park's trails for a while to get in contact with nature before looking for our race pilot to take us back to Huánuco. Nobody says a word on the way back, our driver leaves behind car after car and makes manoeuvres that take our breath away, but we feel it is best not to bother him.
Eventually we arrived safe and sound and we never felt happier to walk. We take a short break at the cabin and then set off to continue through the night; next day we have to return to Lima, and Huánuco, its provinces, its people, its dishes and its charming places will be forever in our hearts.