Making adobe bricks
After another bout with gastric distress, brought on by my own stupid thoughtlessness in ordering a couple mojitos with ice. It was the ice that did it, just like in Mexico. But I took the antibiotics right away and after a day I was alright and ready to resume my program. I did nothing the day before. The weather was cold and windy and I just had enough energy to walk around a bit to get out of the hostel. My room featured filthy walls and foul smelling sheets or blankets and it was bad enough to sleep there without spending more time. Luckily I had a Tom Clancy novel to occupy some of the time and there was wireless internet so I could catch up on my blog.
There were a few more things in Trujillo
and the area that I wanted to see and one of those was the Chimu complex of Chan Chan, near Huanchaco where I was staying.
The Chimu people came after the Moche who mysteriously died out leaving very little reason to explain their decline. The Chimu complex of Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the world and a UNESCO world heritage site. The whole covers more than 20 square kilometers and they are still excavating more. The ruins were first brought to light only in the last century and there is much more to uncover. Part of the reason all of these pre-Columbian ruins are so well preserved is due to the dry desert climate that prevails. The only thing that has damaged the ruins have been the El Nino rains and floods that have washed away some of the paint and detail of the carvings in the adobe walls.
The main complex is set a couple kilometers from the main road and on the way in I paused to talk to some of the workmen who were making adobe bricks to shore up some of the crumbling and unsteady walls.
The fascinating thing to think about as you travel in this area of Peru is that very little has changed in 3,000 years. These people still make the adobe bricks the same way and build their houses in the same way. When you think about how little movement there is in the people, you realize that the modern Peruvians living in the Moche valley in Trujillo and Huanchaco are the direct descendents of the Moche and Chimu peoples. Their food, customs, architecture and many other things still mirror so much of the ancient cultures. The Spanish influence left a mark, but it didn’t erase the character of the ancient peoples. I had enough information in my Lonely Planet and a small brochure I picked up that I didn’t need a guide to the main complex.
There was a ceremonial courtyard that was pretty for its symmetry and clean lines. I really liked the bas-relief carvings of fish, seals, waves and other aquatic themes in the adobe walls. Corridors led to other rooms and then a reservoir and the main burial chamber. For the morning at least, the clouds had broken and I had strong sun to see everything by. I walked back towards the road to get to the site museum and again stopped to talk to a little boy and girl and their mother and grandmother. It was the little boy’s birthday the next day as his mom informed me and I really enjoyed talking to them all. They were gathering sticks and brambles to sell as firewood.
The site museum was interesting and afterwards I got in a bus for the center of Trujillo to see some of the things that I hadn’t been able to see the first day.
Ceremonial Courtyard #1
First stop was a toy museum that included many Peruvian and European toys, dolls, model trains, cars, boats and other games. Then I saw the church of San Francisco and some colonial palaces, one of which had an art exhibit going on that I found interesting. I ended up at a church and cloister that was supposed to have the best collection of religious art in Trujillo but unfortunately it was closed. There was nothing to do but keep going and I decided to try my luck with the main plaza and the cathedral. I had no problems there but there wasn’t much of interest to see. I was there during a mass and was slightly surprised to hear the tune of “Hey Jude” sung to religious Spanish words. I wondered if the people knew the origin of the hymn? After seeing some of the main square I decided to call it a day.
Seals and Waves
I had seen enough of Trujillo, Chan Chan, Huanchaco and the ancient ruins. I was just beat and just wanted some rest from sightseeing. I guess I was suffering burnout and that it’s fairly common.
In the evening I had been invited to Julia’s friend’s apartment for a little fiesta and it turned out to be nice. We danced and had some wine and beer and talked. I had a nice time!