My plan was to see some of old colonial Trujillo, the city known as the first to proclaim Peruvian independence from Spain. It's the third largest city in Peru and also known for its fine pacing horses and the dance known as Marinera, which has similarities to the Spanish flamenco except that it's danced as a couple and is very graceful. The women and men wave handkerchiefs and the woman wears a full skirt and goes barefoot. I saw an example of it that pena in Lima
I attended and it was beautiful. Much of the colonial architecture survives and there are some fine churches to visit too. The other major attraction are the ruins of the Moche and Chimu cultures in the valley.
Tiles in Bishop's residence
By the time I got to the city center, many of the churches were closing for the afternoon, so I opted instead to visit the excavated Huacas (ceremonial pyramids) of the Sun and the Moon just south of the city center. A very enthusiastic, young guide named Ines led our tour and she was very informative and professional. She's studying for her exam to pass the professional licensing for being a guide in Peru. As we walked up to the Huaca de la Luna, she filled us in on the history of the Moche people. They build the complexes as they asserted their hold over the valley and the whole northern coastal area of Peru in the first centuries A.D. Their deities were different than those of the Incas who worshiped the sun and mother earth.
Kitchen in Trujillo
Because of the proximity to the ocean, they saw the moon, the water and the stars as the most important in their cosmogeny. The naming of the huacas for the Sun and the Moon came from a Mexican tourist who saw that they looked like the eponymous temples in Teotitluacan outside of Mexico City. Unfortunately, not only do they have nothing to do with those temples, but the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico has been shown to be dedicated to the god of Water, so it's a double misnomer. Actually the Huaca del Sol here was the religious and ceremonial temple, while the other Huaca was dedicated to administration and government. In between lay the city dwellings where the people lived, with the exception of the priests and politicians and administrators, who lived in the temples.
Human sacrifice was practiced, but with a twist. They didn't sacrifice their enemies caught in battle. Rather, warriers from within the community pitched a mock battle. The losing team was paraded to prison cells and then groomed for sacrifice. They were given a hallucinagenic sedative before their throats would be slit. This was to appease the gods when el nino came, or when water failed. Supposedly, the sacrifice was an honorable thing in their culture, and the sacrificed were promised "heaven" so that they welcomed it. Sounds familiar to modern day? Most of these pre-Columbian cultures practised human sacrifice regularly. In many of them as well, when the ruler died, his family, concubines and a tomb guardian were sacrificed along with him and buried in the common tomb.
In Chan Chan, they've discovered the skeletons of many young women next to the rulers.
The huacas were covered over with adobe every so often and a new temple covered the old. Jerry and I saw the same thing in Mexico. These new temples covered and preserved the older levels so that when the archeologists dug in, they found the relief carvings, with their beautiful geometric motifs and brilliant colors well preserved. The dominant motifs were the head of their Moche god, the "throat slitter", in various guises, surrounded by fish or serpents or other animals in stylized form. We also saw the high altar and the ceremonial courtyard where the procession of the condemned took place, with the ramp up to the inside, where they would be sacrificed. I have yet to see Mel Gibson's Apocolyptica but it will be interesting to see after having learned so much about these ancient cultures.
I visited a couple churches and colonial palaces but my stomach was starting to feel funny and it was apparant that the drinks with ice had been a bad mistake the night before. I headed home and took some medicine and hoped for the best...