Or Trujillo my new love.
ALERT: PUTTING THIS OUT ON A HIDEOUS BUS TRIP IN GUATEMALA SO THERE MIGHT BE MANY MISTAKES!
At last I feel at home in Peru. I arrived from Cusco yesterday and now I am really happy. It’s so much more me.
You can f***ing breathe for a start which is good in my books, and you don’t feel hemmed in by those dang mountains.
This place is a working town as well as in the centre of a plethora of ancient tombs and monuments. Most of the “Huacas” (revered monuments) are delapitated and frankly nobody knows what’s within.There simply is not the money to excavate. However the sandy landscape is strewn with them, some of them in farmers fields abandoned and looted. I investigated my own abandoned one on the roadside. Each of the unearthed tombs had owls jealously guarding them like spirits of the past.
Trujillo is a coastal town which has an older heritage than Cusco. The sea dwelling people having arrived from Asia, quickly made this place a proud sea faring lot who were in the inspiration historically for the Incas. Here we have such a reflection of the love of nature extended to the aquatic type. Fish and pelicans are motifs seen all over. The decapitating god that was popular for millennia finally lost its clout when one El Niño too many upset them and they abandoned their solar and lunar temples in disgust. They might well have been peed off, for each time Nino passed they sacrificed many children and had gladitorial style showdowns the losers of which were placed in a special part of the temple for cleansing and given hallucinagenic drugs before having their throats slit before the high priest.
Please watch video to get the “feel” of Chan Chan
Their archaeological museum is so clear and helpful giving an anthropological event line of the various people and even written in English too. This was very helpful for Chan Chan the next day.
I came here for this site and it didn’t disappoint. Although restored in parts it was done in an artful and respectful manner. The Chimu would have approved! The traditional founding ruler of the Chimu was Taycanamo, who was considered to have been born from a golden egg and then arrived from the sea! (Cool dude!!)
Chan Chan is a revelation. How any of it survived is remarkable. All the local money has been funnelled that way as there are other sites which are only receiving money from Ford and a local beer company, but Chan Chan has been saved for the most part.
It’s like a huge sandcastle complex. They call it adobe but it’s mixed with so much sand that it’s being much more punished by the elements. The main thing you notice is the ruined Huaca in the distance (no money for that yet) and then you enter (“follow the fish”) into a labyrinth. Those fish are handy as this is a huge site. Suddenly a huge ceremonial courtyard then a group of houses then lattice land then fish so many fish then pelicans?
After when I went down to the sea for lunch I understood, bobbing around on the sea along with the surfers a huge gang of pelicans.
Lady of Cao, at El Brujo Complex.
El brujo means male witch, and indeed they still practise Shamanism here. The place is electric with atmosphere. Along with the empty tiny town (do I see the curtains twitching?), the permanent cloud at the top of the natural huaca rock mountain, the shamens round the corner and the owls flying out of my private huaca, we have the lady mirrored in her private chamber in a ghostly light too. It’s spooky and surreal being in the desert lands of the Peruvian Pacific coast.
This place has one classy lady that made it famous and here she is reconstructed.
Modern science has reconstructed the petite woman’s face so it’s particularly poignant when you see her heavily tattooed body in her new resting place.
Her mummy, which was heavily tattooed and wrapped in many layers of cloth, was found with a number of ceremonial items (crowns, diadems, truncheons, nose rings, necklaces, among others. Bling to die for!). Also found were the remains of a second young woman The estimated date of death for the Lady of Cao is about 450 CE and shows she was top brass in the time of the Mochica culture.
Video showing the replica being made.
Thanks to the use of cinnabar (mercury sulfide), a toxic substance used for ritual purposes, as well as the conservation conditions of the site where it was found, the remains of the Lady of Cao were preserved for more than 1,700 years.
The museum there is fantastic. There are copious examples of Moche ware and her special room set out with all the funerary paraphernalia. As with a lot of these sites there’s a grim side. A courtyard for gladiatorial fights that decided the human sacrifices and her body had two other graves next to her. A man and a woman were chosen for her journey to the afterlife.
Before I start with this, if you’re going to come here don’t get upset by the fact that the Sun Huaca is closed, and so are other parts of the sites. I was expecting it to be open as I had checked, but no, much like a few other places (get real Rebecca, most of them) a lot has been closed off or indeed never even been opened to the public, the really ancient Huaca Prieta you can only view with longing from the distance. Having said this you’re in for a treat and you can always nip over to the beach and get some cheap and fabulous ceviche after.
This place is revered because of the status of the WOMAN. Before being discovered they thought that only men were worthy of importance in these times. She is now equal to the Sipan site due to her funerary goods being of such opulence. The temple was smothered with images of the “decapitator god” and geometric designs so must have been spectacular in its time. I have enhanced the colours a bit as they are protected by huge tents and obviously no flash is allowed.
Huaca Prieta. The earliest endeavour.
Huaca Prieta not open but the start of it all! The evidence of the roots of the Moche civilization, here’s a bit to explain:
“These early agricultural experiments boosted the development of ancient Huaca Prieta fishing industry. The domestication of cotton, for example, allowed them to refine and strengthen networks and fishing twines; pumpkin served as flotation element for networks. Their food, based on fish, crab, sea urchin and other extracted mollusks, supplemented thereafter with new crops such as chili, lima beans and Chira. Thus Huaca Prieta marked the emergence of an economy and a cosmology based on water (sea and river). The first images produced by its inhabitants combined value of sea with mountain crabs and seabirds, along with condors and snakes. Presumably they were among the first manifestations of a way of seeing and appropriating the landscape. ” exerpt from El Brujo site
I have loved every minute here, the food, the people, the darker more ancient history, the fresh sea air and the town with it’s fiestas every five minutes. I’m aware this is all rather garbled and it will be remedied and polished at some point but it’s hard fitting in the travelling and blogging as I’m always out and about as I should be. C’mon girls, it’s great!