Jaén, Perú


Jaén, population of about 86,000, is in the northcentral Andes Mountains of Perú. The River Amojú passes through the center of the city. To the east of the mountains is the Amazon Basin.

Somebody took a lot of time and wrote a very extensive history of Jaén in the Wikipedia, possibly the longest of any of the 130+ towns I have visited. This area of the Andes has been inhabited since about 1000AD. There are many archiological sites outside of the city througout the area. I'm not going to bother with any more of the history because, quite frankly, this town is of no interest to me.

Jaén has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 31° C (87° F), and the nightly average low of 18° C (65° F). The city's elevation averages 729 meters (2392 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 793 mm (31 inches) of rain. I don't believe the weather stats for the temperatures, it definitely hotter than the stats indicate it should be, but then, we are experiencing global warming. Today, right at this moment that I am writing this, the temp is 36° C with a feels-like temp of 38. The humidity is typically between 65% - 80%.

So, my impressions: Jaén is a nothing-special town. As old as this place is, it was founded in 1549, there is absolutely nothing more than a couple hundred years old here, and those buildings are nondescript houses. You wouldn't know them to be so old if you couldn't see how they were constructed. The town has a new mall way out at the edge of town, too far to walk to, and in the center of town there is one supermarket. This town is a commercial center for northern Perú, and so is very busy. The streets are narrow, the sidewalks are narrow, the horn-honking never stops, it's not a good walking city. There is only a one-block section of road that is closed to motor vehicles. And the riverside park is also only one block long. They haven't done anything to develop the river banks. You can see in the photos that there is simply nothing pretty about this small city.

My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people.  And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

My goal is to visit the towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.

My Top 10 list has these towns on it:

  • Moyobamba, Perú
  • Puyo, Ecuador
  • Catamayo, Ecuador
  • Encarnación, Paraguay
  • Formosa, Argentina
  • Roldanillo, Colombia

During my travels in Ecuador I visited 32 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 37 towns/cities; in Chile, only five towns; and in Argentina, I visited 16 towns. In Uruguay, I visited five towns, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay I have visited 26 cities. That's 124 towns/cities outside of 77 I visited in Colombia while living there for 9 1/2 years.

Next up: San Ignacio, Perú.