Week of February 29, 2004
The city of Trujillo is surrounded by ruins and when you visit the sites, you start to wonder how much history is still buried beneath the desert sands and beneath the city itself. The largest site we visited was Chan Chan, built around 1300 AD and contained (are you ready for this) over 10,000 buildings! There were storage bins for food and other products, huge walk-in wells, canals, workshops, homes and temples. The entire city was decorated with designs molded into the mud walls and the more important areas were layered with precious metals. Although the Incas conquered the Chimu around 1460, the city was not looted until the Spanish arrived.
The mud bricks that you see used in the construction of the buildings was made from mud (obviously), crushed sea shells, plant material and small rocks. When molded into a block and set to dry, they rapidly harden. While they are hardening, they are cut into the bricks and left to dry to their finished, extremely sturdy state. So sturdy, that the walls have lasted hundreds of years with weathering and erosion occurring only along the tops of the walls. Many walls have eroded to half or less of their original height, but their thickness remains intact.
We also visited La Huaca Esmeralda and Huaca Arco Iris, which were both built by the Chimu around the same time as Chan Chan. Only some of the reliefs on the stairs remain in La Huaca Esmeralda; however, in Huaca Arco Iris, significant reliefs remain on the walls. This is because Huaca Arco Iris was not excavated until 1963 since it was covered with sand for hundreds of years.
Even though the Chimu conquered the Moche, there still remains several remarkable Moche temples that date from 500 AD. We visited the Huaca la Luna and from afar, were able to gaze upon the unexcavated Huaca del Sol. These temples (six levels and eleven levels, respectively) were created for religious observation purposes and with each new priest, they would bury the priest (and several "volunteers") in that level of temple. They would then cover that temple with mud bricks and that would serve as the floor for the next, larger level to be built. Each level was decorated with designs important for that priest and that point in time.
Last, but not least, we visited the archeological site of Sechin. This sites dates from 1600 BC and is one of the more important and well-preserved coastal ruins in Peru. They are still in the process of releasing this site from the sand's grip.
Alright! Enough with the heat of the desert and the traipsing through sand, we were off to the mountains around Huaraz. Huaraz is considered Peru's hiking and trekking mecca and no wonder when the city is nestled in a valley at the base of the Andes mountains that reach their pinnacle at no less than 20,000 feet. Sorry Rockies, but the Andes mock you. We did not nearly have enough time to spend enjoying all this city and what the surrounding area had to offer as we had to get to Lima for our flight back home to the U.S. At least we got a chance to trek up to a local overlook area (via a white-knuckle taxi ride) and we strolled around town.
Now, we have visited 10 countries in over four months and we have been stopped by either local or highway police and/or military approximately 60 times. We have not had any problems with their inspections or document checks and we were hoping to get through this entire first leg of our journey without paying a bribe. But alas, that was not to be because within 12 hours of our flight back home, an ambitious, young police officer was not impressed by Gerson's spanish and stuck with his story that we were doing 69 kph (about 50) when we know we were not going over 35 mph (which was within the speed limit). So stubbornly, we negotiated the "ticket" down from 320 Soles (about $100) to 50 Soles ($14 US) and went on our way. But, what can you do. The officer threatened to keep the passport and we would have had to fight the "ticket" at a town an hour away. $14 is a cheap price to pay for our escape.
I need to step back a bit. During a previous, overnight stay in Casma, Peru (just a quick stopover), we met Carlos and his wife, Rosa. Carlos and Rosa run a touring bus around Peru (among other ventures) and were parked behind Cindy. Gerson and Carlos became fast friends and as it turned out, Carlos and Rosa live in Lima AND had a secure place to park their bus.
With this in mind, we called Carlos when we got close to Lima and within an hour, we followed Carlos to the necessary "Cochera" (parking lot). One of our significant concerns, and especially more so now after the shipping debacle, was finding a secure place to leave Cindy while we were back in the U.S. Carlos not only relieved us of that worry, he and Rosa treated us to a fantastic dinner once we had secured Cindy. After dinner, Carlos toured us around Lima before they took us to the airport. Needless to say, we were overwhelmed with how terrific these people are and we look forward to seeing them again upon our return to Lima.
At the time of the completion of this page, we are at home in Huntington Beach. We leave to go back to Lima on March 29th so there will not be any further updates to the website until after our return.