When people think of Peru, they automaticallly think Machu Picchu. In the past, The Shining Path was also top of mind, but those days seem (gratefully) to be over. Peru is still a country of the haves, and have-nots, but with the return of a strong tourism base, there is foreign money making its way into the wallets of many of the “common man”. They can spot a gringo from a mile away, and are quick to exploit all, and I mean ALL, opportunities to wrest yet another few dollars from visitors to their country. One can ignore it for only so long, and then it all becomes a bit tiresome. Nowhere was this more prevalent than in the entrance fees to most of the National Parks and attractions and was one of the reasons we really enjoyed the archaeological sites we visited in the north. Not quite so commercialized.
Chiclayo and Trujillo are fast becoming known for their most recently discovered sites at Sipán, Túcume, Chan Chan, and Las Huacas de los Moches, and it’s easy to add a week or two to your trip to experience it all. As we had a week before we needed to be in Lima, we were able to knock quite a few off our “sites to see” wish list.
Sipán combines all the good features of a blockbuster movie – buried treasure, the black market, grave robbers, archaeologists and murders. You can just envision an Indiana Jones type character stalking amongst the hills and burial sites. The latest gold-smothered tomb was only just recently discovered in 1987, so one can imagine that there are still countless others still in hiding. Which is why this area is so interesting.
|Jars of food for the afterlife|
Túcume was featured on a television show called Ancient Aliens, which loves to espouse ridiculous (?) notions of aliens descending on Peru in olden times and showing the earthlings how to build. Granted, this valley has dozens of crumbling pyramids, and at the height of its construction and prosperity must have been something to see. Millions of adobe brick were used to construct these solid pyramids rising hundreds of feet closer to their gods. While rain and sun eroded now, they still evoke wondrous thoughts.
|So much work!|
A trip to these parts would not be complete without a visit to the magnificent Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán in a small community called Lambayeque. Yawn….another museum, and well worth every minute spent there!
|Jewelry to be buried in|
An 8-hour bus ride south and we were in Trujillo. We didn’t have time to visit all the sites, so we got a tour one day that encompassed the “best of”.
La Huaca Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple) started off the day, smack dab in the middle of town. It was rediscovered, as so many of them are, when construction crews were set to “put up a parking lot”.
|Chimu Defense Wall|
|Holding up the Wall|
Next on the Pre-Inca hit parade was Chan Chan, and it was spectacular. At its height, some 10,000 structures dominated the plain, comprising nine royal compounds, and the impressive friezes were carved with depictions of fish, waves and sea life; understandable as the ocean was within reach.
|Immense and Brown|
Pretty impressive when you consider that these are all made of mud, and are almost a thousand years old. We’ve seen some structures in modern-day El Salvador that looked like they were made last year and weren’t going to last the week. Maybe Central America needs to have some help from the Ancient Aliens on their building techniques.
|Everything was decorated|
|Lots of airflow between rooms|
Rounding out the day was a visit to the surf-town of Huanchaco. We wondered aloud if THIS might be a good place to open up a palapa bar. Even better than watching the surfers, was to sit with a coldie and watch the fisherman riding the waves on their tortora reed boats.
|Surfing, Peruvian Style|
|Tortora Reed Boats|
|Catch of the day|
|Hey, Honey, wanna start a palapa bar?|
|A fittingly named beer, and the end to another great day|
Las Huacas del Moche, La Huaca de la Luna and the currently being excavated La Huaca del Sol, were on our next stop. A great museum, some REALLY ugly dogs, and a pretty impressive recently excavated wall were well worth the time we spent to go.
|Sacrificial Platform nicely decorated|
|Some work holds up better than others|
|As busy then as they are now|
|Who's better looking, me......|
|Or this? Can you believe they are SUPPOSED to look like that?!|