Like I wrote before, in this area the most beautiful women are said to come from here, but once we arrived to Limabamba we just saw a tiny village with nobody in it, literally nobody was on the streets. So we headed straight to the waterfalls. Asking around we found the path that follows the side of a mountain as it gets far from the village and the fields until on a forested creek there are the waterfalls. On our way we ran into an old lady and her niece who were waiting for the veterinarian of the town (also the mayor) to help them with their female horse who was laid on the side of the road not able to stand up. We stayed making conversation for a minute and petting the poor horse.
There are 14 waterfalls but we must have explored the first 6 or 7 and we would’ve explored more but time was an issue as we asked our driver to wait for us on the main square at 2pm. Also, once we found a deep enough pool to bathe we jumped right in. Water was very cold but nothing some jumps and swimming can’t take away.
On our way back the vet was with the horse, still not able to stand. Our car was gone though we arrived only 5 minutes late, so we had to wait for any car going to Mendoza that could give us a ride. Found a little restaurant and asked for lunch without even asking what was for menu. We got “locro de frijoles” a thick soup made of yucca and beans that was delicious. Main was “picante de carne”, a stew of potatoes, beef and spices. The owners of the place were very kind and we noticed they looked completely Spanish-like. Don Waldo was green eyed and we invited him to join our table, share a few beers and tell us the history of the village. “Wayayayayayaya” he exclaimed. Little we knew he was in fact very interested in the subject and when he was a local mayor he had done his own research on the subject, but he says that most documents are lost now. He talked to us about pre-hispanic local tribes in the area and the legends of them being tall, blonde and clear –eyed. But he also mentioned this village as being on the route of the Spaniards to the jungle and being one of the first places they explored in Peru. They must have left some people here and then it is documented that they brought artists from Germany, England and Italy, as some local last names suggest. I believe him. We saw a red-headed man who could have been perfectly placed somewhere in Dublin or London without looking foreign. But here in Peru?
Also, he mentioned, the fact that people in the village have been very closed to outside influence and didn’t leave much or got married with foreigners until in 1978 the first school was built in town and with it the arrival of new teachers. But other foreigners arrived too, such as cops and merchants. Then the population started getting mixed even more and people started migrating to places such as Lima, Cajamarca or Chiclayo. Don Waldo suggested that’s when the most beautiful women left Limabamba.
Truth be told we saw a few young girls on the streets and Erick couldn’t help but getting a picture with them. We have noticed that women here, even when they are very young, say 14, have no problem about talking to older men even when they are with their mothers. And I mean that they can be quite straightforward for a 14 year old. They will even be flirtatious in front of us, a typical attitude of jungle women. I guess is simply the fact that we also look foreign to them but I suspect that also it’s involved the idea that a foreigner might be a good husband, so it seems socially accepted that a young girl kind of flits with an older man from outside their village. And I suspect the story of Limabamba must be one of many secrets and intrigues as I can imagine that this tiny village must have experienced some in-breeding between families being so little and isolated over the centuries.
In any case we did find the proof of why Limabamba has such a reputation for their beautiful women. And the walk to the waterfalls was great too. To crown our short visit Don Waldo invited us a bottle of ‘cañazo’, a local liquor made of sugar cane, a good digestive that we downed as we were riding on the back of a truck back to Mendoza. There we were immediately invited to play ‘carnival’ with the locals and we took refuge on our balcony with buckets full of balloons filled with water and the war begun as sun was setting. Each day is a surprise here.