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Trujillo, Peru

overcast 15 °C

Thursday 7th June


Didn't sleep too bad on the overnight bus, and arrive safe and sound in Trujillo at the crack of dawn. Pleased to see plenty of taxi drivers waiting at the bus station to take folks on to their next nearby destination.

We want to look at a couple of places and ask to be dropped at the main plaza, and we'll walk around from there. Arriving at the square it's closed off, and they seem to be making some celebration arrangements - there's several groups putting together large 'mosaic' things, using sand and other natural ingredients, like petals. The designs, whilst none look finished yet, are looking very creative and full of colour, though we see that some of the colour is being enhanced by aerosol can.

Find a hostel just off the main square, and it seems 'fine', though we generally seem to be happy with the first place we find. We checkin, but soon find out that the english channels we're promised aren't there, and ultimately decide to move on. It's not the cheapest place and if we're paying for extras, we expect them.

There's a recommended hotel just up the road, Hotel Peregrino, and we stop in to check the prices. We start at $35, which is as much as we paid to stay in the capital Lima, though the guy asks us to take a look.

Pretty pleased, it's a SUITE, and the biggest room we've stayed in. Also, not only do we have a bath, something we've craved for months, but it's a jacuzzi. The decor is a little Austin Powers, but it'll be a nice place to stay for a couple of days. Breakfast is included, and there's also a little business centre with 2 PC's and free internet access.

After the overnight bus we're happy to chill out a while, and we soon get the jacuzzi filling up (takes ages, and we're sorry for using so much water) and both of us fall asleep, despite the roar of the noisy bubble maker.

Paul happy to stay in and get wrinkly, though Chris jumps out to try and see the procession (seems like a memorial event) happening in the road behind the hotel. There's a bunch of military types and some music and commentary, though that's in Espanol of course.

Paul finally dragged himself out of the tub so we coud have some lunch - went along to Cafe Romano, and enjoyed the tastiest sandwich since we've been away, followed by a gorgeous slice of Lemon Pie.

After, we return to the main square where the ground artists are busy at work. The tourist office is by the square so we pop in for some info, and find out that the goingson in the square are preparations are for Corpus Christi celebrations later today, starting at 4pm.

Spend some more time relaxing in our room, before Chris returns to watch the fiesta/service in the square. It's packed with locals, and lots of music and singing going on. Some doves (and pigeons) released in to the air and everyone is given a balloon on a stick to wave.

Not much else today, just enjoying the rest.

Friday 8th June

Enjoyed the first night in our suite, and up bright and early-ish for breakfast.

Considered taking a local bus out to Chan Chan, to visit the archaelogical site there, but took the lazy, and still cheap, option of a taxi.

The largest Pre-Columbian city in South America, Chan Chan is an archaelogical site located in the region of La Libertad, about 5 km west of Trujillo. Covering an area of approximately 20 km², Chan Chan was constructed by the Chimor (the kingdom of the Chimu), a late intermediate period civilization which grew out of the remnants of the Moche civilization. The vast mud city of Chan Chan was built between c.850AD and c.1470AD and was the imperial capital until Chimor was conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. It is estimated that 30,000 people lived in the city of Chan Chan.

The city is composed of ten walled citadels which housed ceremonial rooms, burial chambers, temples, reservoirs and some residences. Each of these citadels has a rectangular configuration with a north-facing entrance, high walls, and a labyrinth of passages.

The walls themselves were constructed of adobe brick, and were then covered with a smooth surface into which intricate designs were carved. There are two styles of design present in these carvings: one is a 'realistic' representation of subjects such as birds, fish, and small mammals; and the other is a more graphic, stylized representation of the same subjects. While earlier civilizations concentrated on feline and anthromorphic forms, the Chimú style shows a preference for maritime motifs. The carvings at Chan Chan depict fish, pelicans, and nets for catching various sea creatures. Chan Chan, unlike most other coastal ruins in Peru, is located extremely close to the Pacific Ocean.

Chan Chan was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The city is severely threatened by erosion from El Nino, which causes heavy rains and flooding on the Peruvian coast.

Glad we paid for a guide to show us around.

We walked back across the desert fields to the small museum dedicated to the site, and spent a short time there before getting the bus back to town.

After a cheap and cheerful lunch, we spent most of the rest of the day enjoying our suite and, despite Chris protesting against the waste of water (well we are in the desert), Paul filled up the jacuzzi again and had a good soak in the bubbles.

Saturday 9th June

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. The sacrifice 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.

continues on next thread...

Posted by pdsaustin 16:43 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking

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