Cajamarca, a city rich in history and the site of many wars, was also quite tumultuous for Ryan as well. Although he normally does not get motion sickness, he discovered a weakness in his armor, which is only exposed while he sleeps. On the overnight bus from Trujillo, a combination of altitude and motion debilitated Ryan to the point that when he woke up in Cajamarca he couldn’t stand due to a tidal wave of dizziness and nausea. He made it to the seatless toilet bathroom in the bus station in time, but needed a good half an hour to muster up the strength to get in a taxi. Once we were settled in our hostel, we passed out for 5 hours, before Ryan was awakened by his bowels. He spent the next two days bedridden while Lisa blissfully explored the gorgeous city.
Lisa wandered the Santa Apolonia steps, which lead up to an impressive viewpoint known as the “Inca Seat”, where the Incan ruler supposedly addressed his people. This area was occupied by a variety of cultures for more than 2,000 years. We explored one such pre-Chavín archaeological site known as Cumbe Mayo (at 3500 meters), a pre-colombian aqueduct built around 1000 B.C. to deliver water from the surrounding mountains to the city below. The area was occupied by many campesino women and children who sold potatoes and choclo (corn with massive kernels) and would pose for pictures for an insignificant price.
Similar to how Cajamarca was the downfall of Ryan, the city is also the site of where the Inca Empire collapsed. In the late 1460s, Tupac Inca conquered the area ruled by his father, Pachacuti, and brought Cajamarca into the Inca Empire. In the early 1530s, Atahualpa defeated his brother Huáscar in a civil war for the throne in Quito, and was on his way to Cusco with 80,000 soldiers to claim the rest of his throne, when he decided to stop at Cajamarca to relax in the thermal baths and celebrate their victory.
Meanwhile, Francisco Pizarro and his 168 soldiers trekked from Piura to meet the Incan ruler and set up a meeting where they intended to demand he submit to Spanish rule. Atahualpa offered the houses of Cajamarca to the Spanish as refuge while he enjoyed the thermal baths with his soldiers. The Spanish integrated the houses into their plan to capture the Incan ruler, and when they finally met and Atahualpa refused to submit to the Spanish, they blocked off all passage to the square inside the houses, slaughtered several thousand unarmed Incan civilians and soldiers, and took Atahualpa captive.
The Spanish held him captive in the “Ransom Room” inside Iglesia de San Francisco, located on the Plaza de Armas. They kept Atahualpa’s generals and army at bay by threatening to kill their king, but the conquistadors were also trapped with only a small force, so they negotiated ransom from the king, who offered to fill the room once with gold and twice with silver in exchange for his freedom. Atahualpa was true to his word, but once the Spanish had their treasure, they killed him anyway.