Waiting taxis filled the dusty parking lot. Taxi drivers chatted under the little tree that offered them some shade from the harsh sunlight waiting for tourists. We purchased our tickets, declined the offer of a guide and began to explore Chan Chan once the world’s largest Adobe city, built around AD 1300, and which covered 36 sq km. It was the largest pre Colombian city in the Americas. At its height, 60,000 residents of the Chimu Empire lived in this huge complex of flat roof mud homes. It is in the middle of one of the worlds driest coastal deserts. We have been very impressed with the museums and archaeological sites in Peru they are world class. Yet when we leave them and head back into regular Peru it is grimy and litter everywhere. What happened to their pride?
We past the city of Trujillo and just south we once again were treated to an amazing archaeological site and museum. The immense and impressive Moche, Huaca Del Sol and Huaca Del Luna (Temples of the Sun and Moon) and more than 700 years older than Chan Chan. We wandered around the splendid museum, learning about these ancient civilizations. It seems that human sacrifice was always part of ancient civilizations. I am intrigued to know if the victims felt okay about having their throats slit or whether they were petrified. Some were captured victims but others were family members, wives, children and servants who were killed and buried with the leader on his death.
Between the two temples, lie the ruins of the village of the locals. One is not able to visit the Huaca del Sol it is not open to the public. Huaca del Luna is opposite and contains beautiful friezes. Ruth a young Peruvian is our guide up to the Huaca del Luna. She tells us the pyramid is three levels. When the first leader died, he was buried in the temple and then everything was covered up with sand and the next leader built his temple on top of it. Then again, when that leader died his temple was filled with sand and the next leader built his temple on top. So the temples became pyramid shaped and the sands burying the underlying temples preserved the building, murals, friezes and objects.
After our archaeological fill, we headed south still following the coastal desert road. It is stunning beautiful, sand dunes and deserted beaches all shrouded in the Coastal Fog called “garúa.”
We could smell Chimbote before we saw it. Peru’s largest fishing port and fish processing factories are located in Chimbote. We were tired and it was time to find some places to sleep and eat. As we entered the supermarket in this bustling little town we were faced with 1000’s of people all trying to move through the crowds. “It must be pay day,” I said, as we watched a mother pushing her grocery trolley while breast-feeding the toddler seated in the trolley. Taxis constantly honked their horn as shoppers loaded up their month supplies into the taxis. At sea shipping boats were in the harbour, a wreck lay beached up on the rocks.
It was time to head for the Andes of Peru. We debate the route, Tom loves the desert and so we head further south before heading west and then up and over the Andes to reach the town of Huaraz. We arrived on a Sunday night and we thought we were in a combination of Nigeria and Angola it was so chaotic!!!, No streets names matched any on our maps, roads were either dug up or filled with vendor stalls, every road we turned into was a wrong one way, it was dark. Ah yes the circus had come to town literally and we were caught up in the loud, chaotic streets as everyone who lived in or around Huaraz descended into the city.
The following morning it was as if everyone had died, where did they all go? Streets were empty, stores shuttered closed a few souls ventured out but we had a problem. Our air ride suspension had had developed “Bad Road Syndrome,” it was time to find a mechanic. We would have to stay in Huaraz and get the suspension fixed. Hiking the mountains will have to wait,