Fri 25th May
Feeling invigorated by yesterday’s run, this morning I’ve written my own HIIT programme and do that to start my day….shit, it’s pretty tough going!
Once ready, I have a cuppa downstairs and chat to the guys in my hostel then I’m off for the day on my tour to visit Chan Chan & the Huacas.
Back in Plaza de Armas in Trujillo wherein to meet my tour group, there’s a big parade (they’re very fond of these in S America it seems)! More school kids and bands parading the streets. I ask a policeman what urs about and I’m told it’s a celebration of education. The littliess at the back dressed as superheroes are super cute.
I meet an Irish guy who’s on my tour and we’re put in a car with 4 others and off we go. I recognise the route we’re taking and immediately question the driver. They’ve changed the order of the tour meaning I won’t get dropped off back where I’m staying like I was told when I booked it. He calls his boss and he tells me they’ll pay for a taxi home for me instead….result!
We arrive at Chan Chan, get our ticket and drive to the site first rather than visit the museum due to a school trip bringing Toby if us….better to avoid 30 odd kids!
So Chan Chan….which liberally translates to sun sun.
This was part of the Moche Valley and the capital of Chimu kingdom. It’s was a bustling kingdom spread over 20 square kms with a population of about 60,000 and was lived in from around 900AD to 1470 when they were defeated by and then became part of the Incas.
It was once the largest adobe (mud bricks/walls) city in the Americas with walls, passageways, ceremonial stages, storage rooms and funerales. Some walls built over 30 foot high,
decorated in the the chimu beliefs of a 3 tier method representing water, land and sky. This can be seen in the carvings in the walls – sun, moon, fish, pelicans and the fisherman’s nets.
The whole building structure represented these 3 tiers also where in the ceremonial rooms, you had different tiers for different levels of people – the chimu and the priests, noble men then the common folk.
Chan Chan was built up of 10 walled citadels, each built for the succeeding king and each with its own burial sites. Royalty were then buried along with their treasured possessions. A bit like Egypt’s mummies. Some of these artefacts are now housed in the museum.
Being so large, not all of the Chan Chan empire is being restored. The main focus and visitor site is the Tschudi Palace.
To ensure the area received enough water, the Chimu were clever beyond their years and built reservoirs inside
and created canals to direct water flow from the Moche River to reach their site.
Once outside the 10 citadels ir palaces, the area was made up of trades and craftsmen working in textiles, metal and wood.
After the Incas invasion, the Chimu community dwindled as the best workers etc were taking to the lands of the Incas. By the time the Spanish invaded in 1532, the area was largely uninhabited and open largely to being looted by the Spanish in their hunt for gold.
Looting today isn’t the biggest risk to the area. Being made of mud, the biggest risk to the site is the weather. With El Niños and the amount of rainfall, erosion of the site is a huge problem.
Archaeologists are doing as much as they can to preserve part of the site with many roof structures having been erected. Parts of the walls and friezes have also been covered with replicas in order to protect the originals underneath. It became a world heritage site in 1986.
The stories of the Chimu people were interesting but the place itself wasn’t hugely impressive. It did just feel like a big mud wall/sand pit. There really isn’t much left apart from some high walls and carvings to give much perspective on what it once was which to me made it lack that bit of a wow factor.
From here we go to the museum in which houses artefacts unearthed by archaeologists. More excitingly thou, I finally get to see 2 Peruvian hairless dogs! An ancient breed of dog that dares back to chimu times!
Back in the car/bus and we drive to Huanchaco for lunch. Everyone is carted off towards a designated restaurant but I do my own thing as this is where I’m staying and seek out a restaurant I want to try. Otra Cosa is a fabulous vegetarian restaurant and their Mexican burrito is hearty, healthy and cheap!
Herded back into our transport, a change of vehicle back in the city and a chance for me to claim my 15 soles taxi money, we finally set off, quite late to the next stop – Huaca de la Luna – Temple if the Moon.
This is part of the Huachas de Moche and the remains of the city of Cerro Blanco surrounding the volcano of the same name.
It was constructed between the 1st to 8th century using millions of adobe blocks. Many have the same pattern inscribed in them believed to have been made by the same community – probably for payment reasons.
Lived in by the Moche people until they moved to different areas – mainly due to crops being wiped out for many years in a row due to El Niños.
Huaca del Sol you can see from Huaca de la Luna and just looks like a sand/mud mountain. Archaeologists are digging but it isn’t a big site like the one we’re in.
Huaca de la Luna served as mainly a ceremonial and religious site built on 3 main platforms. The north was mainly destroyed by looters, the central appears to be a burial site for the elite and the eastern platform used for human sacrifices. Sacrifices were mainly offerings to the mountain of the fittest soldiers in order to receive some good weather for harvests.
This is an incredible site with an abundance of history and stories. So much so that it’s difficult to recall everything.
Huaca de la Luna stands out more than other sites because of the colourful murals in its walls.
Archaeologists painstakingly use small brushes to get rid of the sand that has blasted and set to the murals over the years.
A roof has been erected and a glass wall in some parts to protect the colours on the murals from the elements.
This was a good and interesting day out. Unnecessarily long in places but that’s life in these parts of the world.
I have been told that if u can get to these places on your own then a guide is included in the entrance fee but I’m not able to 100% confirm that.
The tour cost 55 soles for transport and English guides (I knocked them down to 50). Entry to the 2 sites is a further 10 soles each and another 5s for entry to the Huaca museum which I didn’t bother with.
In total you are looking at about £18 for the tour.
A long day and glad to be home I meet Lee at the hostel and we go to Sabes for pizza. Quite pricey in comparison to most food in the area (around 35s) but bloody good. When most places offer ceviche and fish, pizza was great – despite trying to eat healthier and especially when ur not a fish/seafood eater!
A cold beer back at the hostel and chatting to a few other guests then it’s bed time! I am sleeping so well here it’s amazing!