Aid for earthquake survivors
Chiclayo was supposed to be a stopover before I went up to meet Angela and Beatriz in Mancora
by the beach, but I decided to skip it and come back later because it was on the way back to get to Cajamarca
anyway. The attractions were more archeological sites, including the most exciting, valuable and largest of recent excavations, the site of Sipan. The story of the huaca at Sipan unfolded in the late 80s and could be optioned for a movie. In 1987 a noted Peruvian archeologist noted the appearance of some incredible pre-Colombian pieces on the international market and his suspicions that they might have come from huacas in the Chiclayo
valley plundered by grave robbers or “huaqueros” led him to the site of Sipan, where there was a brief and even violent struggle over the recently violated site.
Aid for earthquake survivors
The robbers had gotten into one tomb and had quickly sold the precious items on the world market. Some were recovered in Philadelphia and from Sothebys in London. One grave robber was shot and killed by the police guarding the site. In the end, the local population was grateful because the importance of the find would bring tourists and money into their area. Many were employed as assistants in the dig and as guards and employees of the resulting world-class museum. In 1989 the archeologists discovered what would turn out to be the most important pre-Colombian find in Peru, the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. This tomb contained the most precious works of gold, bronze, coral and shell necklaces, woven dress and other artistic expressions of the high Moche culture.
Statue in front of museum
It tied together many pieces of the culture that had puzzled archeologists for many years, and the treasure recovered was the most precious ever seen in the Pre-Incan culture. Altogether in the tomb, they recovered the remains of the lord, his wife, a concubine, a child, a warrior, the guardian of the tomb, a viringa dog, and a llama. All were sacrificed to accompany the lord into the afterlife.
The museum didn’t permit photographs but it was well done. Clearly marked and lighted exhibits very professionally arranged. The only downside was that everything was in Spanish. I could understand but how many people coming to visit don’t speak or read Spanish? You can’t call yourself a world-class museum without bi-lingual tags on the exhibits.
First I saw the Bruning Museum in Lambeyeque. Bruning was an archeologist and ethnographist from Germany who lived in Peru for most of his life, from the late 1800s to the 1920s. He spent much time among the native people and discovered many important archeological sites. The museum had a nice collection of both his black and white photos as well as objects from the ancient sites. I particularly liked the life-sized dioramas.
The Tumbes Reales museum was impressive and I looked at nearly everything. The wealth of objects extracted from the tombs was fascinating. But by the end of the afternoon I had had enough of the ancient cultures and archeology for the time being and I decided to skip the actual site of Sipan and the other pyramids further north from Lambeyeque and to head to Cajamarca.
Last Supper recreation (early 1900s)
At the rate I'm traveling I'll never make it to the jungle! So I bought a ticket for the bus the next morning. Chiclayo as a town doesn't have much beyond the famous Mercado Modelo, but I just didn't have the energy to wander through it. My hotel was located in the red light district (unfortunately you can't find out these things in the day when the taxi driver takes you there..I was looking for something cheap..well, I found it!) and I found that out when I went out in the evening to have a beer. There was a place next door to the hotel and I went in, but when I asked for a beer the guy behind the bar told me sit with a girl and he would bring it to me. That set off some alarm bells. Well, I'm not naive (sometimes I am, ok, I admit, but in this case I was not!) and I realized what was going on.
That was confirmed when I walked a bit down the street and saw 3 more places just like it, and then at the corner a couple of girls less dressed than the norm, especially on a chilly and windy night. Well, I grabbed a taxi and went to the center and found a nice grill and cold beer I wanted. Time to get out of Chiclayo, "the city of friendship" as they are known. Yes, extremely friendly on the street that I was staying!