Trujillo, Chiclayo and Mancora

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…..

P1040488…..and the mustard “Basilica Menor Catedral”.

P1040491aThe buildings are very well preserved and there are many examples of columned courtyards with delicate wrought ironwork.

P1040494It is famous for being the first Peruvian city to declare Independence from Spain, commemorated by a statue in the main plaza…..

P1040492b….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.

P1040495bThere was some form of debate/meeting going on whilst we wandered round.

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…

P1040499a…and as our excellent guide explained, this may have been a fertility temple because in many ancient cultures the rainbow represents rain which is meant to be the bringer of life.

P1040500bBy 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…

P1040513a….and there has been some sympathetic reconstruction of the layered temple.

P1040507One bit of original wall remains.

P1040506It was here that we first encountered the Peruvian hairless dog [“Biringos”].

P1040505aVery 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.

P1040504aStrange looking aren’t they – but all the ones we met were really friendly.

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…..

P1040522….. but near to the coast, it is full of characteristic carvings which reflect the Chimú’s love of and respect for the sea.

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?]

P1040518Maybe its because the fish were of greater importance because much of their diet was seafood.

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……

P1040529…… again demonstrating that the Incans learnt a lot from those who lived in Peru before them.

In the centre of the citadel which we visited [called “Tschudi”] was this small Oasis – a natural water well which provided the drinking water….

P1040528aA visit to the onsite museum gave glimpses of their wealth and use of precious metals….

P1040514a….and their ceramics. [Another depiction of the sea which we really liked – almost the Owl and the Pussycat!]

P1040515aOur 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.

P1040534They are known as “Caballitos [little horses] de Tortora” and the fishermen paddle them with one leg either side – like a sea cowboy.

P1040532Each one only lasts a few months before becoming waterlogged and, after each outing they are carried up the beach…

P1040540a….and dried. The rows of these iconic craft appear on every Huanchacho postcard!

P1040541cThe 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.

P1040551Only a part of it remains, the rest having been washed away and it now looks like a giant pile of bricks partially covered with sand.

P1040555aSmaller, but much more interesting is the Temple of the Moon. It houses some of the best polychrome friezes for which the Moche were famous.

P1040549aThe temple was built over a period of several hundred years leading up to AD600. Six generations of Moche built it…..

P1040564…….each succeeding generation building over and around the preceding temple, completely covering it. Archaeologists have discovered stylised figures at every level….

P1040559a….showing soldiers, serpents, animals and other important symbols.

P1040562The “Catfish” and the “Osprey” were ceremonial figures and appear in many parts of the temple.

P1040553This illustration may help you to understand the above photograph.

P1040552bPerhaps the most amazing carving of all was the “Mural of the Myths”……

P1040563a…..which once looked something like this.

P1040565bEach Moon temple must have looked absolutely fantastic in its day – inspirational to those who lived, celebrated and worshiped in it.

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.

P1040572aNo 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….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….along which we strolled for an hour or so, past the village and the fishing fleet and down to the south beach [and back of course!].

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe saw a different example of a local “vessel”….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….watched the sunset….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA…..drank our final Pico Sours…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA….and sampled some fine dining.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA complimentary “starter”, two steak meals and a bottle of good wine for less than £18.00 [$27].

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.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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