Sunday 16 August

Our taxi arrives at 5.40 am and promptly at 6 am our bus departs. We follow the familiar route past Tingo and through on to Leymebamba. The bus is a comfortable twenty-eight seater manned just by the driver. But for Rachel it is a bit of a nightmare journey as two people sitting close to her are sick right at the beginning on the switchbacks as we leave Chacha.

After Leymebamba we begin climbing up a series of seemingly never-ending zig-zags. The scenery is almost alpine with moderate grassy slopes and fields carefully marked out. It is all very lush and green.

Once over the pass the scenery is much more rugged, more dusty, and dryer and the road clings precariously to the mountainside. We descend into the Río Marañón valley – very hot and dusty – and then begin the long climb up to the second pass. The views are outstanding and the road loops around in massive meanders as it strains continuously upwards.

(magnify) Climbing out of the Río Marañón valley

It is with great relief that we finally make it to the top and see Celendín not far below us. We arrive more or less on time, just after three in the afternoon. The driver must be quite exhausted, having driven almost non-stop for nine hours.

As we get off the bus we are besieged by taxi and combi drivers who want to take us on to Cajamarca. They clearly do not expect many travellers to want to stop over in Celendín. But we have no great difficulty finding a room. After a couple of refusals we end up at Loyer’s Hostal. Three other gringo couples from the bus have done exactly the same thing as us. It is fairly basic (no outside window again but not as dark as the Casa Monsante) but clean, though we are not quite sure if breakfast is included.

(magnify) Plaza de Armas, Celendín

The Plaza de Armas is nice. There is a lovely church (though not open right now) at one end. We book bus tickets for 1 pm tomorrow; we should have much more leg room on a bus than in a combi.

For dinner we choose La Reserve, recommended in the book and a couple of doors away from the hotel. The service is very poor but they do a good enough Pollo a la Pobre. Rachel’s spaghetti bolognaise is uninspiring though.

On our way back to the hotel we peek into the church, which is now open. It is exceedingly long and narrow.