Well, at long last, this is going to be my final post about our trip to Peru. It covers the three places on/near to Peru’s northern coast which we visited on our way to Guayaquil in Ecuador to catch our plane back to Panama where “Siga Siga” was waiting.
First of all Trujillo, with its central “Plaza de Armas”- often photographed because of the colourful colonial mansions surrounding it…..
….and it is in Trujillo that the “Alianza Popular Revolution Americana” [APRA] workers party was formed. Many of its original members were later massacred and they are remembered in a photographic display inside the headquarters building where party members still congregate.
We signed up for what turned out to be a fascinating day out to visit the surrounding pre-Incan Moche and Chimú archaeological sites.
“Huaca Arco Iris” [Rainbow Temple] is one of the best preserved of the Chimú temples…
By contrast, much of “Huaca Esmeralda’s” original stonework has been replaced having been severely damaged by El Niño wind, floods and rain following its discovery in 1923. Photographs scattered around the small site depict how it must once have looked…
Very popular in the northern part of Peru [we didn’t see them anywhere else] this dog has a higher body temperature than normal dogs, feels very warm to touch and was [and still is] used as a kind of hot water bottle – particularly for people with arthritis.
From there we went to the largest, and most often visited Chimú site, “Chan Chan”. Built around AD1300, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and the largest adobe city in the world. At the height of the Chimú Empire it is estimated to have housed approximately 60,000 inhabitants.
Covering an area of 20sq miles there were ten walled citadels [called Royal Compounds], each containing a royal burial mound filled with vast quantities of offerings – including dozens of sacrificed young women.
Built in the desert…..
Many of the adobe friezes show waves of fish rippling along the entire length of walls above a line of seabirds [why the fish were above and not below the birds I’m not sure?]
However, for ceremonial purposes birds were still of importance and decorated the bottom of columns.
Although now mainly eroded, the walls once stood 10 metres [33ft] high and many of them were built in the design of fishing nets.
Like previous pre Incan sites we visited [which, if you are a regular visitor to the blog you may have read about already] such as those built by the Wari, the walls at Chimú are similarly wider at the base than the top……
In the centre of the citadel which we visited [called “Tschudi”] was this small Oasis – a natural water well which provided the drinking water….
Our lunch stop was at Huanchacho, a small seaside resort. Its defining characteristic is that the local fishermen still use the type of narrow boats made from reeds which are depicted on 2,000 year old Moche pottery.
The afternoon was given over to the Moche civilisation with a visit to the “Huacas del Sol y de la Luna [Sun and Moon Temples]. Built 700 years later than Chan Chan, the Moche Temple of the Sun is the single largest pre-Columbian structure in Peru. They estimate that 140 million stones were used in its construction, many of them marked with symbols representing the people who made them.
Our stay in Trujillo was only two nights but we feel we made the most of it with this day trip and were glad that we had chosen two nights there and only one in Chiclayo [our next town] rather than the other way round.
There isn’t much to say about Chiclayo other than it is a working town with a great Burger Cafe called “Mia Tia” [My Aunt]. It is the nearest large town to Lambayeque where the “Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán” is situated.
No cameras, phones or any other means of capturing the exhibits are allowed inside so you will have to be content with knowing that the museum houses an incredible collection of masks, jewellery and ceramics taken from the archaeological site about 30km away. The Lord of Sipán was major leader of the Moche people, indicated by his elaborate burial in a wooden coffin surrounded by hundreds of precious and semi precious metals and jewels as well as family members, his military chief, his flag bearer, two dogs and a llama. The ground floor of the museum includes reconstructions of this [and other] burial chambers. It was amazing to see all the treasures but, after a while, one golden ceremonial collar did seem to look exactly the same as the previous one.
After all that culture we needed some time to just relax so our Peruvian adventures ended in the seaside town of Máncora. We stayed in the very friendly “AquamarInn” which we would recommend to anyone looking for a restful place to stay. It was about 5 minutes walk from the excellent north beach….
Best, and most unexpected, of all was coming across a Blue Footed Booby just sitting on the shoreline. As I said in one of my earliest blog posts about our trip into Ecuador and Peru [when we saw the Giant Galapagos Turtle in Baños, Ecuador], there is no need to travel to the Galapagos Islands to see their unique wildlife. They aren’t, after all, unique to those islands. And, true to reputation, the Booby just sits there and lets you walk right up to it. An amazing end to a fantastic eight week trip.