Thursday, July 3rd, 2003- Day 135

Thursday, July 3rd, 2003- Day 135

Huaraz is the primary base destination for most visitors who are keen on exploring the Callejin de Huaylas Valley that runs 200km (120 miles) right down the middle of Peru. At an altitude of 3,100m (10,230 ft.), Huaraz enjoys a spectacular setting at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca: The town is dominated by 20 snowcapped peaks, each higher than 6,000m (19,800 ft.), which rise in splendor just beyond reach of the city. Huaraz itself is a far cry from the postcard perfection of a picturesque alpine village, however. It has a major earthquake to blame for its ragged look, which is weighed down by rapid and cheap concrete construction. The massive 1970 earthquake leveled nearly the entire city, eradicating half its population in the process.

The bus journey was uncomfortable. The seats were small and I could not stretch out my legs. I also had a big guy in the seat beside me who snored and kept leaning back in my direction. I had to elbow him a few times. I watched Wasabi on TV (French with Spanish subtitles) which was poor even thought I like Jean Reno as an actor. After that a more interesting feature called THE ANIMATIX. Matrix writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski commissioned seven artists from Japan, America and Korea to make nine short films set in the world of their feature trilogy. Pretty cool and they were in English.

Anyway I got very little sleep and we arrived crazy early. It was 5.15am and it was dark. I knew where I wanted to go – five blocks away, so I did not need or want a taxi. I waited until 6.00am and I braved it. There must have been about 100 local taxi drivers and accommodation providers outside (for a small town of 18,000). I told them all I had a reservation. It only took me 5 minutes to walk to my chosen hostel called Hotel Los Andes (Bolognesi 296). It was a dive but quiet, empty and secure. It was 11 Soles for a room without bath and 20 Soles with. The shared bathroom was one of the worse I had seen. Anyway the owner was a nice old lady and showed me up to the roof to watch a beautiful sunrise.

There was no point in going to bed and wasting a morning. Decided to Yungay, 50km (31 miles) N of Huaraz

This small town is permanently marked by tragedy–it was completely buried in a 1970 landslide, precipitated by the massive earthquake that loosened tons of granite from the top of Nevado Huascarin. The hurtling mass killed at least 20,000 people, nearly the town’s entire population. Only a few children survived. A new settlement was established about a half mile away.

I took a Combi min van from the Quillcay Bridge on Alameda Fitzcarrald Huaraz. The trip took about 1 1/2 hours and it cost three Soles. It was 50% full of gringos on a climbing Trip. At Yungay, I went to the local market and looked at the nice scenery and mountains surrounding the area. I found out that a bus would be leaving to Lagunas de Llanganuco at 9.00am. I bought some bread and water and waited. The lakes are 26km (16 miles) away. It cost seven Soles and it took about one hour fifteen minutes. It drop’s you off right at the lake. This brilliant turquoise alpine lakes, at nearly 4,000m (13,120 ft.) above sea level, compose a dazzling vista at the base of the Cordillera Blanca’s highest snowcapped summits. The views of Chopicalqui (6,354m/20,841 ft.), Huandoy (6,395m/20,976 ft.), and hulking Huascar?n (6,768m/22,199 ft.) are simply mesmerizing. I stayed about an hour and took an optional row boat out (4 Soles) for 15 minutes.

It was only about 11.30am and I decided to walk back to Yungay (until the next bus came). I had walked about 1/3 of the route when a bus came. I was happy as it was roasting hot. It only cost me 3 Soles to get back to Yungay.

At Yungay I walked to Campo Santo, monument to the 20,000 dead and a macabre tourist attraction. The only reminders of the life that once existed there are four palm trees that graced the Plaza de Armas and rosebushes and monuments honoring the dead. Part of the old church spire also survived. It was free entry. It was eerie there with no one about. It took me about 20 minutes to walk here from town and I spent an hour there. I then walked out to the road and waved down a shared taxi which brought me back to town for three Soles.

I then walked around town for a while but I was tired (I kept falling asleep in the taxi). Huaraz humed with the business of mountain and adventure tourism. Most of the business properties in town re geared to tourists: dozens of tour operators and travel agencies, restaurants and bars, and hotels and inns can be found in town, most clustered along the main drag, Avenida Luzuriaga. It was a site to see them all offering rafting and mainly climbing. This is the main backpacker site in Peru. I was really tired so I decided to book a tour for tomorrow as public transport to the mountains is not good. In Pablo tours on the main street I booked a tour to Pastoruri. I cost 20 Soles. After going on the NET for 30 minutes I went to bed at 8.30pma and boy did I sleep.

More trouble in Bolivia (land invasions) , Brazil (land invasions) and Peru (shining Path).

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Dawn over the Town (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Dawn over the town (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Yunday – Peru – Market (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Yunday – Peru – Lagunas de Llanganuco (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Yunday – Peru – Lagunas de Llanganuco (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Yunday – Peru – The old Plaza and Church in the landslide area now deserted. (03-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huraz – Peru – Market (03-07-2003)

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003- Day 134

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003- Day 134

I was up at 9.00am and had a shower. I booked out and took a taxi to “Mobil Tours” – (supposed to be the very best in Peru). He was so enthusatic about showing a picture of his “Irish” girlfriend that we slambed into another taxi in front us. Damage was mimiuma nd no body was huty. My driver paid him 10 Soles and off we went as normal. I bought a ticket to Huaraz for 35 Soles. I should arrive there early tomorrow. I left my bag there in storage and walked back into town. Went onto he NET for a while (1 Sole an hour) and took a collective bus (1 Sole) to Huanchaco, 12km (7 miles) northwest of Trujillo. It is a tranquil and traditional fishing village now doubling as pretty low-key resort. It was the same bus as yesterday to Chan Chan and only cost 1 Sole (.25 EURO cent).

“The town’s fishing character is apparent in the long jetty that juts out over the water and the pointy handcrafted boats called caballitos del mar (or caballitos de totora), for which Huanchaco has become famous and which remain the photogenic vessel of choice for fishers. These small boats, made of bound totora reeds, have been used by fishermen for more than 1,000 years, since the reign of the Moche. The area around Huanchaco is one of the few places in Peru where this ancient sea vessel tradition has not disappeared from use. When not out on the water, they’re parked on the beach in groups like slender tepees.”

The weather was hot and sticky but I enjoyed been a beach bum for a few hours. Besides a stroll on the beach and visit to Huanchaco’s, there’s not too much to see or do. Its proximity to the sea are its main attractions. After getting back to town I had lunch and decided to go to the Temple of the Sun and the Moon.

I caught the “Campia de Moche” colectivo (1 Sole) on Surez (at Av. Los Incas), several blocks northeast of the Plaza de Armas. It took me about 40 minutes to find the street as there are no street names so I had to ask three people. I passed the city market to get there and passed some interesting stalls with people selling fowl, guinea pigs, ducks, pigeons and rabbits. Bought some nice fruit. The bus journey took 15 minutes (8 km) down back streets and farm land.

“This complex of Moche ruins is enigmatic from a distance. Two imposing rounded-off and weathered adobe pyramids, partially eroded, sit in a dusty open field at the foot of Cerro Blanco. Built by the Moche people around A.D. 500, they are about 7 centuries older than the ruined city of Chan Chan. The two masses constituted a religious center and an urban settlement.

The first pyramid, the Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun), is nearly 20m (70 ft.) high, though it was once bigger by perhaps two-thirds, and it was very likely the largest man-made structure in the Americas in its day. Heavy rains of the El Nino phenomenon, and the Spaniards’ diversion of the nearby Moche River, precipitated the erosion. It is said to have been built by 250,000 men and 140 million adobe bricks.

Across the open field, where burials sites have been found and living quarters were once erected, is the smaller but more interesting Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon). It is better preserved than the Temple of the Sun and has been excavated; many of the most important finds took place only in the last decade, and excavations are ongoing.”

I met a German girl there and her Peruvian boyfriend. They offered me a lift to the outskirts of town in there taxi. I should have taken the bus and it was quite far away. It took me 20 minutes to walk into town centre. It was 5.30pm and I had dinner and went on the NET. There was an Israeli whom I had met in Banos in the NET cafe saying he had just gotten a fake 100 Soles (25 EURO) note. He was asking all and sundry what to do. We all get false notes and coins here (I have gotten a 5 Sole and a 1 Sole false coin) and he was angry because he had gotten it from a VISA ATM. He was a pain in the ass in Banos too asking 100 questions about where to do this and that. You have to get out there and find out for yourself. I went on the NET for a while and walked to the Mobil Tour bus station (about 15 minutes from the centre) to catch my 9.00pm bus. It is supposed to be the best. When I got to board, a lady dressed as an airline stewardness welcommed me. She even did a safety demonsration (just like on an airline) using hand signals.

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Tujillo – Peru (02-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Tujillo – Peru (02-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Tujillo – Peru (02-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huanchaco – Peru (02-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huanchaco – Peru (02-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Temple of the Moon – Peru (02-07-2003)

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003- Day 133

Tuesday, July 1st, 2003- Day 133

I caught the bus to Trujillo at 9.00am (well, it left at 9.25pm). It was a VERY cramped bus. I never had so little room on a bus and there was no air-conditioning. It was sticky and uncomfortable and I got very little sleep. I got to town at 7.30am and started walking into town. The bus company “El Dorado” was about 5 large blocks from the town centre. About half way there I stopped a hotel. As the buses to the ruins go from close to hear, I decided to check it out It was a double bed with shower and hot water and nice view for 25 Soles (6.50 EURO). It was good value and booked in.

Trujillo is the capital of La Libertad department, is the third-largest city in Peru and one of only two of commercial importance on the entire north coast. Yet the town, founded in 1534 by Diego Almagro on the orders of Francisco Pizarro, retains the Spanish colonial feel of a much smaller town. The downtown area is an attractive grid with streets lined by elegant, pastel colonial mansions embellished by wrought-iron window grilles.

The importance of this area greatly predates the arrival of the Spaniards, however, and Trujillo is celebrated mostly for a collection of pre-Columbian sites that abound on the outskirts of the city. Looming in the desert are five major archaeological sites, including two of the richest ensembles of Moche temples and ruins of the Chim culture in Peru. Chan Chan, a monumental adobe complex of royal palaces covering more than 52km2 (20 sq. miles), is the primary draw for visitors, but archaeological tours also visit the fascinating Temples of the Moon and Sun (Huacas del Sol y de la Luna), built by the Moche culture around A.D. 500.

Chan Chan – taken from Frommers.

One of the most important archaeological sites in Peru, though in its present state it may not seem as “complete” to the layman observer as some of the Inca stone ruins in the highlands, Chan Chan is an enormous adobe city in the Moche valley, just 5km (3 miles) from Trujillo. The great capital of the Chimu empire, which stretched some 966km (600 miles) along the northern coast of Peru from Lima to the Ecuadorian border, is the largest complex of its kind from pre-Columbian America. The urban Chimu were the chief state in Peru prior to the continental conquest of the Inca Empire. Begun around 1300, it reaches all the way from Huanchaco port to Campana Mountain, an area covering more than 25km2 (9 1/2 sq. miles) of desert floor. First excavated in the mid-1960s, the crumbling mud city was once home to perhaps as many 60,000 inhabitants. In all, the UNESCO Cultural Mankind Heritage Monument comprises more than a dozen citadels and a maze of living quarters, thick defensive walls, ramps, plazas, gardens, workshops, warehouses, narrow streets, a huge reservoir, a royal cemetery, and pyramidal temples. Nine palaces were the personal domains of Chim? chieftains; when one died, he was buried in an elaborate ritual in the palace and a new royal compound was built for his successor. These were almost certainly overflowing with gold and silver riches, and were later ransacked not by the Incas but by the Spaniards and subsequent huaqueros (grave robbers, or treasure hunters). The fragile buildings themselves have fallen victim to erosion caused by recurring El Nino floods; in 1986, Chan Chan was listed on World Heritage Sites in Danger due to both physical erosion and acts of continued pillaging.

The kingdom began around 1000 and reached its apex in the 15th century, before succumbing to the Incas in 1470 and 1471, after more than a decade of resistance. Today, one can only imagine what this massive complex looked like and the sophisticated society that once inhabited it. Unfortunately, there are no written records or documents that aid our understanding of the establishment of the city or reconstruct the daily activities that took place there. Long walls are embellished with friezes of geometric figures, stylized birds and fish, ocean motifs, and mythological creatures–though some might be considered a bit too impeccably restored. There are no doors or arches in the entire complex, and there are no stairs–only ramps.

There are four main sites at Chan Chan, all spread out over a large area that requires either a lot of walking or a couple taxi rides. The principal complex, named the Tschudi Palace for a 19th-century Swiss explorer, has been partially restored, and a walking tour is indicated by painted arrows. The royal palace was home to a noble population of 500 to 1,000. The first area of interest is a ceremonial courtyard decorated with aquatic-themed friezes. The original walls were 18m (60 ft.) high. Just beyond the courtyard are walls with interesting friezes of fish and seabirds. The most fascinating component of the palace is the large area known as the Sanctuary, whose walls are textured like fishing nets. Although Chan Chan contains the ruins of an additional eight royal compounds, none has been restored like Tschudi, and very little can be seen or understood from viewing them.

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Chan Chan – Peru (01-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Chan Chan – Peru (01-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it?´s original size

Chan Chan – Peru (01-07-2003)

The Museo de Sitio de Chan Chan, along the road back toward Trujillo, has a small collection of ceramics from Chan Chan and some exhibits about the nature of the city and its history. The museum is equipped with a new auditorium and models of Chan Chan; an audio and light presentation is given in English as well as Spanish. The museum is at least a 20-minute walk from Tschudi Palace.

Huaca Esmeralda and Huaca Arco Iris are two smaller pyramidal temples that are rather removed from the main palace. They are included in the Chan Chan ticket, but one must go to either the museum or Tschudi Palace first. Huaca Esmeralda is in the Mansiche district, midway between Chan Chan and Trujillo (several blocks behind the church, to the right). The huaca consists of a couple platforms and some friezes that have not yet been restored; though less impressive than others, at least visitors get a clear chance to see original reliefs.

Huaca Arco Iris (the Rainbow Temple, also called Huaca El Dragon), lies in the La Esperanza suburb a couple kilometers from Trujillo, west of the Pan-American Highway. It is in much better condition than Huaca Esmeralda, having only been excavated in the 1960s, and its well-conserved rainbow-shaped friezes are fascinating. Some have interpreted the central motif to be that of a dragon. Outer walls have reliefs of snakes and peculiar lizards. The fairly large structure has several ramps, and visitors can climb to platforms at the top of the temple”.

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huaca Arco Iris – Peru (01-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size

Huaca Arco Iris – Peru (01-07-2003)

I had a shower after getting to town and was getting a bus to the ruins at 8.45 am into the morning. To get there I caught the Huanchaco bus (1 Sole) on Av. Espana and ask to be let off at the turnoff to Chan Chan. It took 10 minutes and there were taxis waiting here. I decided to walk the mile (15 minutes walk) down a dirt road to the left, to the Tschudi Palace. You pass the Museo de Sitio getting to Chan Chan. I met three people from Sweden there who were hiring a guide. I asked to join them. The fee was five Soles each for the guide and it was 10 Soles (5 if you have a students card) to visit the FOUR sites (excluding the Temples of the Moon and Sun). I enjoyed the tour and it a fasinating site (as you can read above). We spent about one hour there (you can hear and see the Pacific Sea from there). We all walked back to the Museo de Sitio (20 minutes). It was very small and we only spent twenty minutes there. Instead of catching a bus we walked to Huaca Esmeralda which was a good 30 minutes walk on the same road I got the bus this morning. Again it was a small site bus interesting. From there we took a taxi (4 Soles) to Huaca Arco Iris. We could have walked bus its tough as you take back streets. We spent 15 minutes there and the taxi driver waited for us. I explored the city centre for a while. It has many churches and a fine plaza. The weather was good. I went to see the Hulk in the local cinema. I enjoyed the story and style of the film but the CGI effects of the hulk himself was unrealistic. It had emotional depth (the main characters did not) though. I went for dinner after and I walked back to my hotel (15 minute walk). Had a nice hot shower and went to bed.