Why would you go all the way to Santa Teresa along a treacherous road in Peru? For some reason it called to me and I subconsciously ignored the part about the treacherous road. In this seemingly sleepy jungle town, nature’s wonders were alive and busy. The hummingbird (Picaflor/Colibri) certainly was the most stunning of these. My encounter with this ‘flying jewel’ was fresh in my mind.
Walking along the narrow sandy paths to my left and right I set my eyes for the first time upon coffee beans growing in their perfectly natural source. Further along near the small town itself a large area of bare ground had been set aside for the drying of the beans. There they lay, roasting in the midday sun oblivious to cities and cafes and paper cups.
If you follow the river you will eventually discover the main attraction. At least for Peruvian people this is so. Cocalmayo is the name given to the outdoor hot bath known locally as ‘Aguas Calientes’. It is idyllic in its surrounds and clearly a hit with Peruvian people continuing their Independence Day celebrations.
I got there early in the morning as the sun appeared across the lid of the mountain and infused the air with it warming rays. I waded in the warm blue green waters staying close to rocky perimeter gazing at the waterfall which provided a natural shower for the bathers.
Even at this hour there were many people, despite this a hushed quiet prevailed. No rush, until however, sounds of splashing followed by some shrieks broke the silence. Many people, mostly young girls were scrambling to exit the bath. An attendant appeared with a large hooped net. It took some time to capture the creature as it managed to hop itself free from the net many times. It had fallen from the rock face at the far side of the pool. I understood that they believed it to be poisonous frog. I watched from a safe distance. Eventually calm was restored and the basking resumed.
Later, I sat in a village market watching a local woman making the most amazing concoction using only a liquidiser (batidora). She piled everything into it. Peppers, soft cheese, crackers and spices, I lost track of the variety. It was explained to me that she was making a sauce to accompany a potato dish for the workers in her community.
Many people visit this town in order to start their trek to Machu Picchu. It can be reached in a matter of hours on foot in the direction of Hidro-Electria power plant. They call it the low-budget route and back door to Machu Picchu. I had already arrived there through its front door the year before. It is splendid. My trip to Santa Teresa was a spur of the moment plan. I didn’t want any of my visits to Machu Picchu to be so haphazardly arranged. Going there was something I wanted to have the opportunity to look forward to, no matter if it would be my hundredth time to visit.
Have you been to Santa Teresa and what were the highlights of your visit? If you enjoyed my story please share and I invite you to follow my journey in Peru.
The reference to the ‘flying jewel’ is credited to artist and blogger Janet Weight Reed for this beautiful metaphor of the Humming Bird which features in her art.
©Caroline Cunningham – Author of Wild Star Landing