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Chiclayo, Peru

overcast 17 °C

Saturday 9th June - Trujillo to Chiclayo

Busy day ahead and first thing, after breakfast, is to grab a taxi to take us to the Moche site, to visit the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol) and the Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna), which are 15 minutes drive away in the Moche River valley, and are huge pyramid-like structures.

This major archaeological site was built at the time of the Moche culture (100 BC-650 AD), just east of a prominent, freestanding hill, the Cerro Blanco (White Mountain). It occupies a central location within the extensive Moche Valley. The complex sits about three miles inland, southeast of Trujillo and is considered by many scholars to be the former capital of the Moche State.

The complex is dominated by two huge adobe brick buildings: the Pyramid of the Sun, or Huaca del Sol, and the artificial platform called Huaca de la Luna, or Temple of the Moon. On the quarter-mile-wide, open plain between them, researchers have found many graves, most of them looted, as well as evidence of large scale manufacturing covered by a layer of sediment up to 10 feet thick. A considerable number of administrators, religious, and manufacturing specialists must have been living at this great prehispanic settlement. Like most prehispanic sites on the coast, it is located so as not to usurp agricultural land and in a good position to acquire food, building material and other resources.

The following info was nabbed from a website about the site,

The Huaca del Sol

Despite its history of destruction during the colonial period, the stepped pyramid called Huaca del Sol still measures 1,250 feet in length and towers 135 feet above the surrounding plain - this makes it the tallest adobe structure of the Americas. lt is calculated that around 50 million sun-dried, mud bricks (or "adobes"), were used in its construction. Like its counterpart on the opposite side of the plain, the Huaca de la Luna, it is oriented roughly 20 degrees east of north. Although the earlier history of the building remains a riddle, it was probably begun early during the Moche period...

The enormous cut on the west face was made back in 1602 by ambitious Spaniards looking for treasure. They intentionally diverted the small Santa Catalina River, which then washed away more than half the huaca. In colonial times, it was common practice to loot prehispanic sites in search of gold, and often such looting was organized by formal companies.

This stepped pyramid is made up of four major platforms that rise from the northeast, where an access ramp may have stood, towards the southwest where there is a fourth, lower and narrower platform. Unlike later monumental architecture, it is entirely made up of sun-dried adobe bricks. The sections, or panels, in which the bricks were laid are clearly visible in the badly-eroded eastern side. Many of the adobes have their original marks, such as imprints of hands, feet, dots, crosses, etc. These marks have been interpreted by researchers as accounting tools to distinguish different groups of brick manufacturers, which thus facilitated tracking the payment of "taxes".

The name "Huaca del Sol" is really a misnomer, as there is no evidence to connect the building with any solar cult. There are, however, no indications as to the original name of the site, which must have been in the now-extinct Muchik language, which was spoken in the region in the Fifteenth Century.

The Huaca de la Luna

Overlooking the Pyramid of the Sun lies the Pyramid or Temple of the Moon, another major component of the urban and ceremonial center of the prehispanic settlement of Moche. Ongoing excavations by Peruvian and foreign scholars are revealing the complexity of this fascinating structure.

Three platforms and four open courts or plazas take up most of the assemblage, which is built up against the lower slopes of the Cerro Blanco, the White Mountain. Overall, the site measures 950 feet from north to south and 690 feet from east to west. The access to the structure was probably located on the north side, which has been badly damaged by looting. Treasure hunters also dug impressive tunnels into its eastern flank and inadvertently exposed beautiful polychrome reliefs, sadly now destroyed. Many Moche burials, some probably dedicatory but others as late as Chimú (about 1100-1470 AD), have been excavated inside the otherwise massive adobe platform and have yielded many artifacts, such as elaborate ceramics and metal headgear.

Very tall and wide walls delimit each of the four courts, some of the which have narrow cane and pole roofs running along the sides. Access from one sector of the site to another was clearly channeled down corridors and through narrow entrances. Painted reliefs pertaining to different construction phases, at least four of which have been identified so far, have been located in several of the platforms and plazas.

For example, the head of the "degollador" or sacrificer, a motif also found at the site of EL BRUJO, decorates the walls of platform I in the southwest corner of the site. Another very fine example of Moche mural decorations found at La Luna was the mural referred to above, which depicts "The Rebellion of the Artifacts"

Large-scale human sacrifice at Huaca de la Luna became evident when archaeologists uncovered the remains of at least 34 sacrificed adult male individuals in the soft clay of the southeastern court at the foot of the mountain. They had been bound and, judging by the type of wounds that had been inflicted, were probably captured in battle. Thesacrifice represents a single ritual event linked by archaeologist Steve Bourget to a season of torrential rains caused by an extreme case of the maritime El Niño phenomenon, which strikes the coast of South America at irregular intervals and which may have caused the final abandonment of this site.

The open space between the two pyramids has recently been found to have been an area of intense manufacturing activity as well as an area of high population density. Ceramic workshops and large-scale maize-beer production are in evidence, and intensive textile production and metalworking may also have taken place there as well. The highly specialized groups of workers in charge of these activities were most probably subservient to the high-ranking individuals in charge of the administration of both the ceremonies that took place at that site and the prosecution of wars.

After the tour we stop in town for a quick bite to eat ahead of the bus ride a couple of hours along to Chiclayo.

More desert separates to two cities, and we try to follow the spanish-dubbed film playing on the TV, with little success.

In Chiclayo we first check out the Hotel El Sol, located fine for centro and the room the usual stuff, though we're initially shown a room at the front of the building, which is pretty noisy, so score a similar room at the back, looking over the grotty pool.

After a walk around the busy streets (maybe it's a Saturday night thing) we look for, and track down a tasty and cheap Chinese restaurant (Chifa) a few minutes from the hotel. Also out tonight are some Nestle street vendors with trays of cheap chocolate, which of course we investigate.

Get booked for our tour heading out to the Sican Museum, Tucume site, Sipan museum tomorrow - 60Soles each, entry fees extra, no lunch included.

Back in the room, TV, then bed.

Sunday 10th June

Of on a day trip today, collected by the bus just after 8.30am. Only one other overseas tourist joins us, a Japanese guy, together with a local family who are out for the day.

First stop is an hour out of town, the Sican Museum. Quite a disappointing visit, our guide has to keep switching between an English and Spanish tour, and it's therefore taking forever to get around, eating into time for seeing the other places on the tour. An hour into the museum, and we're less than half way through.

The guide does his best, though is unable to get another guide from the museum and Paul walks off in a huff, enjoying the sun outside instead.

Whilst it's our fault that we don't have a sufficient grasp of Spanish, but it is poor that the museum has no information in English at all. This is quite a big museum, and we've been to far more basic set ups over the last few months where we have been well catered for.

So, over an hour late, we leave for the Tucume museum and site. This time, our group is split and we have the guide's full attention. The museum is quite small, and gives a brief overview of the history of the site, and a few models of yesteryear.

Get to stroke our first Peruvian 'hairless' dogs - hairless except for a tuft on top of the head. They don't look very happy, perhaps they caught a look at themselves in the mirror - not the prettiest of creatures.

Behind the museum is the site itself, where you can see the remnants of the pyramids, there are 26 in all, spread over quite a wide area. The area can been seen well from the lookout point, a few minutes breathless walk up the hill. Unfortunately there is no access on to the pyramids, though the up-high view is pretty cool.

Time is getting on and we're told that the next stop is lunch, though we're conscious that the last stop (Sipan Museum) closes at 5pm.

We finally get to the lunch stop at 3.45pm, so we ask if we can get dropped off at the museum and we'll have a look around ourselves. The guide suggests he'll meet us at 4.15pm.

On arriving at the museum we need to hand in our cameras/bags/mobiles etc, and then when we get inside we find, again, that there's no information in English at all. Pretty bad for the supposedly best rated museum in Ecuador, if not South America.

Lacking a sense of humour, and having had his patience drained through the day, Paul walks straight out of the museum to wait for the guide (it seems such a waste of time looking at something, but not knowing anything about it).

The guide turns up 35 minutes later than planned, and there's 10 minutes to get around the museum. Thankfully, the closing time is for last admissions, and we get to have our tour of the museum.

The locals in our group are either not interested in the tour, or are happy to read the Spanish information accompanying the exhibits - either way, we have the guide to ourselves and the tour is excellent, and goes someway to make us for the frustration of the day.

Sipán is a Moche archaeological site that is famous for the tomb of El Senor de Sipan (Lord of Sipán). It is considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the last thirty years, because the main tomb was found intact and undisturbed by thieves, unlike many of the other sites we have visited in Peru.

There are some of the best examples of intact pottery we have seen, and also much jewellery.

The Lord of Sipán was a very important Mochican warrior priest, whose remains were founded in Huaca Rajada by Dr. Walter Alva in 1987.
In his tomb were discovered a great quantity of gold and silver objects, jewels, ceramics and carved wood of incredible value. This investigation had given archaeologists the chance to discover many more aspects of the Mochican Culture.

In the main tomb was found a guard, skeleton of a young man with a golden shield and sectioned feet.

'El Señor de Sipán', was found in a sarcophagus made of wood (this is the first event founded in South America), next to his head were the skeleton of two young women, and at his sides a skeleton of a dog and two llamas.

He was all covered with gold, silver and copper, chest protector with jewels and gold necklaces. His skull rested on a big golden plate.

Very close to this tomb, in 1989, some investigators of the Brüning Museum discovered the tombs of "El Sacerdote" (The Priest), and the tomb of "El Viejo Señor de Sipán" (The Old Lord of Sipán).

The tomb of the "Viejo Señor de Sipán" (Old Lord of Sipán) is chronologically older, and with difference among the others, was found a sarcophagus without company and wrapped in vegetal fiber. It had signs of royal importance, dressed with gold scepter, fine gold and silver jewels, chest protectors made with pearl shells, peculiar and unique pictures.

All the original pieces were restored in Germany at the Mainz Museum (1988-1993).

Glad we got to have a good look at the museum, though sorry that we couldn't take any pictures.

Got back to Chiclayo just before 7pm and headed straight out for dinner, back to the Chifa we found last night. Unfortunately no Nestle vendors out tonight, though we find some in the modern supermarket by the square.

Monday 11th June

Didn't bother with breakfast this morning, and Paul does some internet while Chris goes to the nearby market, with it's own 'Witch Doctor' section and Shamans walking around with some snakes.

Picked up some snacks from the supermarket, including a puff pastry roll with absolutely no filling, though the yoghurts were good.

Found out that the bus to Piura is just around the corner, so buy our tickets conveniently ahead of time - we can get away at 1.30pm and it's only 2 and a half hours, the shortest journey we've had for, seemingly, ever.

Realised that we used all our money up before we'd paid our hotel bill, so gutted to have to use a Globalnet ATM and pay 4 soles for using it.

Quickly pack our things and walk the few minutes back to the bus station.

Desert views all the way to Piura, so nothing to add here.

Arrive in Piura late afternoon, and feel the warmth of the desert, though Piura is a pretty big city. The map suggests that the hotel we check out is not that far, and is just a few minutes walk away. For 69Soles we get the usual type of room with our own facilities, though no breakfast.

We're only here for one night and there's nothing we're desperate to do here, so first of all make our way to the bus station where we can get a ticket to take us across the border into Ecuador. The Lonely Planet suggests that the best place to head is Transportes Loja, but sends us the wrong way - they give the wrong address - right street, wrong number. Get there eventually and grab our tickets, cost 24Soles each. There's a BCP ATM nearby if you need to take out some last Soles before you leave the country, though the smallest note issued by the machine is 50. There's a Scotiabank ATM on the main square that issues 20's.

Pleased we're sorted for our ticket out of Peru, and head back into town for a look around. A cafe recommended in LP has since closed (looks like a building site now), though there's a tasty veggie place on the square. For desert, we find an icecream place at the small shopping mall in the modern cinema building.

Back in the room, with some chocolate (no more chocolate until we get home....yeah, right) and we pack ready for tomorrow. Makes a change, we actually feel quite hot in the room, after complaining over the last few weeks of the cold, and need to use the fan.

continues on next thread....

Posted by pdsaustin 16:46 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking

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