Sometime this morning, as we walked through a street in Trujillo, it suddenly struck me. We are in Peru! We docked in Salaverry this morning and exactly as we had been led to expect, we were faced with a grey-beige landscape.
The climate here results in this grey mist and though it cleared as the day wore on, the landscape which was revealed turned out to be rather grey-beige in colour too!
Our arrival made the local news this morning though, and as we were preparing for our day out, a TV crew were filming alongside a few stallholders bringing their goods for sale. All was accompanied by loud pan-pipey music. Oh yes, we are in South America!
We’d had breakfast overlooking the dock, watching the tugboats
and counting the huge jellyfish which surfaced now and again.
I kept an eye on the flock of birds which was occasionally taking flight. There must have been thousands of them here, as well as a fair few pelicans too.
But come on, I’m not here to do bird watching. Let’s go!
Driving out through the dockgates at the port of Salaverry, the first thing that we noticed was that this was another marginal community. All of those “boxes” on the dry and dusty hillside (it rains here maybe once in seven or eight years) were actually squatters, who hope that in five years time they will be given the land they have occupied by the government.
Turning onto the Pan American Highway (yes, this road starts in Ushuaia, Argentina and finishes in Alaska, USA), the homes of earlier squatters were a little more established, but even so, this was not exactly a well developed, prosperous community.
We passed a group of people making adobe bricks in the same way they have done here for centuries. Their work was to become very relevant to our destination, for we were heading for the Huaca De Luna, an enormous pyramid built out of these adobe bricks almost two thousand years ago by the Moche people.
It was just warming up nicely when we arrived. Actually, the sun was quite hot but there was a refreshing breeze which was particularly welcome when the time came to climb steps up to the temple.
That breeze had blown sand and created some rather interesting shadows on one of the sloping walls nearby.
The Huaca de Luna is undergoing careful excavation. Particular care is needed because we are in an earthquake zone and undermining any of the structure could be fatal if a seismic event occurs, To begin with, there seemed to be nothing much here beyond the adobe walls.
But then we went inside.
Now, all of this had been built by a race of people who were not against the odd human sacrifice or more. They believed that the forces of El Nino, which brought devastating floods now and again, could be placated by blood and the designs on these two temples provides sufficient evidence of some pretty violent behaviours.
But right now, I was simply enjoying looking at the patterns and the traces of colour which had survived so long.
There were interpretations of the designs here and there which were helpful.
The human touch was there in some of the adobe bricks which had been excavated, where the makers had applied their trademark. We liked the dancing man!
From further up in the temple complex, we could look over to the “partner” temple, the Huaca de Sol, which is larger but not so well preserved, we were told. In between, there are other excavations being worked, because it’s thought there could be the remains of a village of some sort there.
I was so busy looking out over there that it came as a surprise when I turned around and saw this! Oh yes, here we go…captives have been roped together and are being led to be sacrificed.
Here’s someone carrying a head, dripping blood. (Sorry about that!)
You can see how well preserved this all is – altogether, quite breathtaking, especially that bit in the corner.
There was a key to the Mural of the Myths and we stood a while with Henry our guide to hear about it.
Guess what was represented there?
Oh yes. The man at the top holding a ball in his hands? Well, it’s not a ball but the head of the chap to his right, who is laid down, headless (of course) with a condor “kissing him” (Henry’s words, not mine) and sending him into the next life.
We can’t imagine how we’d never even heard of the Huaca de Luna before!
Moving right along…well, back along a few narrow village roads and on our way to Trujillo itself. Running alongside the road was a small but fast flowing canalised stream, also built by the Moche people, said Henry. But, just a minute, I thought it didn’t rain here? It seems that the Moche worked out that the rain came from the mountains, so built these waterways to bring the valuable source of water to their communities in the dry plain down here. Clever things – and how interesting to see that they are still working so well, too.
Into Trujillo then, the second largest city in Peru.
We stopped by the main historic, pedestrianised street and had a bit of a welcoming party there to greet us.
There’s quite an attractive centre here with some lovely old, colonial buildings.
I especially liked the old street signs.
We walked down through the bustling street with our friends alongside and vigilant at all times. I’m not really sure it was really necessary but clearly, someone thought so.
We popped inside a couple of these grand buildings for a look. This one has been restored well and is now a private members club.
A little further along was an historic church, but sadly we couldn’t go in there because the cupola had fallen in and the structure was unsafe.
So, we carried on into the wide open square where the monument to independence was the centre of attention. Literally so when it was first built, for a statue of a naked man in a city with a large population of nuns caused quite a stir, we learned!
There were several pretty buildings around the square and we were able to look in a couple of them.
The first one was now the Federal Reserve, we were told.
A former residence, it was furnished in European style but with some Peruvian touches such as this floor level mirror to check one’s shoes were in order!
There was also a bed where Simon Bolivar slept.
But the main attraction for me was the colour.
Glorious, isn’t it?!
We were able to go in the cathedral of course, which turned out to have some very bright paintings too.
We did a quick run round in the five minutes we were allotted here, but agreed, it was enough and gathered ourselves together again to return to the ship.
Perhaps they were all heaving a sigh of relief to see us go? Actually, they were remarkably friendly and perhaps we added a little lightness to an otherwise ordinary day. Let’s hope that was the case.
We returned the same way as we’d come, past the large market garden fields, growing asparagus and artichokes amongst other things, for export and yes, making use of the Moche designed irrigation system, no doubt.
This afternoon, around 4pm we set sail for Callao, the port of Lima. We arrive there tomorrow for the last day of our cruise and look forward to a fun packed day of exploring another new city.
I really hope there won’t be much human sacrifice involved.