Setting aside the time to visit Leymebamba was one of our best decisions. The township in the rolling mountains of northern Peru is surrounded by vast fertile grounds and lies on the lush fringes of both the Amazonian and Andean climate. It is set in its historic ways, kept lively and tidy by its hardworking people and their singsong dialect putting their big hearts out on display as they saddle their hourses, mix ‘miraculous’ piping hot herbal potions, or just stand around on doorsteps and corners, watching the familiar world roll by day in day out.
All this lays in the middle of a territory dotted with the yet-to-be-determined number of centuries old ruins. One could hike around for days at the time, and would probably stumble across walls and towers on many hills overgrown with vegetation that could make European gardeners weep.
The local museum is full of fascinating reminders of other civilizations that once ruled these parts, containing perhaps the largest — certainly densest — display of mummies I have seen. It is also an interesting example of a community ran museum that locals are clearly proud of. We made the stop after our visit of the Kuelap fortress (having used a local agency’s transportation to the fortress and then hopped off on the first major road where we picked up our next ride). The winding ride in yet another crowded van was this time enlivened by a business-clad lady who seemingly worked as a sales representative. She had to solve a lot of crisis during the ride. Then she passed out. When she woke up, we stopped by a house in a village by the road and she vanished for good 10 or 15 minutes. She reappeared and was astonished by the admonition she received from a couple of passengers. In Leymebamba, a bus company guy offered to carry her heavy box; someone had to.
We stayed right by the small main square, in a family-ran hotel in the making. In our memories we can still hear the owner responding to our thanks at the end of the stay with the unique melody of the local dialect, and even though we unfortunately forgot his name, he remains one of the stars of our trip, his “Gracias a ustedes!” resonating in our ears. We ate just off of the square, at one of two places we could find open (the first picture below), at a very budget friendly price and with some interesting insights into local ways of going about things.
Though some faces below speak of the hardships they’ve witnessed and experienced, it is hard to really appreciate the determination and dedication it takes to make a living and support oneself in that part of the world. It is also difficult to convey the incredible kindness and feeling of welcome that engulfs the whole village and the mountains around it.