Thursday, September 3, 2009

Never wear a desert coral snake as a necklace.

Mountain climbing is fast becoming one of our favorite activities, and our favorite mountain is Cerro Patapo which is a 40 minute combi ride from Chiclayo. It’s a rock mountain peaking at 1325 feet. It’s not too difficult to climb but it’s not a cake-walk either. There have been several times when we’ve had to retrace our route because of the sheer rock walls, and at times a missed step could result in a 20 foot fall. A 500 foot fall is also possible for anyone inclined to take that route. In ancient times during the Moche culture prisoners were pushed off that cliff. Bones are still found today at the bottom. We saw them.

During our last visit Maribel was climbing in front of me when she suddenly stopped and whispered “snake!” She had reached down to pick it up thinking it was a necklace someone had dropped, when she saw it move. Like most women Maribel does not like snakes so it took awhile before she wanted to move on….in a different direction of course. An internet search that night showed the snake to be a desert coral snake, which is highly venomous and capable of killing a human adult.

The mountain is covered with ruins from three different cultures dating back at least 2100 years. Amongst the ruins are thousands of pieces of broken pottery. Normally we pick up a few with unusual patterns, and 2 days ago for the first time found ornamental pieces. Looters have long ago excavated these ruins, digging holes to depths of 5 feet over wide areas.

It’s possible they may have missed something and we may stumble upon a complete piece but I really hope we don’t. I don’t know if I have the will power to turn it over to the authorities, especially when it’s likely the authority will turn around and sell it. Such is life in Peru.

It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of sitting on the top of that mountain in the middle of all the beauty and history. Maribel feels it also, in addition to an intense pride for her country. It takes over 2 hours of steady climbing to reach the top…more if we poke around. Some days we never reach the top. The descent is 1 ½ hours depending on which route we take and my legs are wobbly when we reach bottom. I wish you could be up there with us. You may not feel what we do, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t come down untouched.



  1. Thak you gringo. Your site is a good one. I see that I am missing the good life. You have eyes to see beauty in a place that many would consider only part pf the third world. Is not that way, you are a citizen of the world. Ii also love nature and knowing new places like you do. kudos for you from Dallas.

  2. I see why you are happy there. You love nature and you have eyes to see that that place is not only a part of the third world; now it is part of your world. That said, what matters most is your happiness.

  3. I'd love to climb with you if I'm able to make it to Chiclayo any time soon.