Published: April 27th 2006April 16th 2006
The Lord of Sipan´s tomb
On our travels we have met a number of travellers who have been robbed while in Peru. This has led us to become rather wary and to travel through the country predominantly as a means to reach Chile. However while we are here we couldn´t miss the opportunity to see a couple of the main attractions such as Machu Picchu.
We were thus hoping to do the 4 day standard Inca Trail, but unfortunately due to failing technology and the inefficiencies of Western Union our deposit was never accepted and the Inca Trail is now booked up until June. Whilst this is disappointing we have done so many amazing things this trip that we can´t really complain.
With our Paranoia already pretty acute we were most displeased to discover the only bus we could get from Guayaquil to our first destination - Chiclayo, arrived at midnight. As bus terminals are notoriously dodgy places and we had no hostel to go to - we knew this was a little risky. Our midnight arrival soon turned into a 2am arrival but luckily for us we found a taxi that deposited us at the hotel of our choice, though only after an
Noel at Tucame pyramids
argument whereby the taxi driver was determined to take us to another hostel and tried to overcharge us.
Chiclayo is a coastal city in Northern Peru, with a population of half a milllion people and is the easiest place to visit the Sipan Pyramids from. On day one we got our bearings and booked a tour. In the evening we ate at Govindas a vegetarain chain ran by the Hare Krishnas. Apparently its an international brand but not one we´ve come across before. It allowed us to take advantage of the low cost set menu which is ubiquitous in South america.
Our initial perception of Peru is that it is more expensive than Ecuador though it seems that this is without good reason. We had also been warned that everyone is on the take or trying to rip you off to get that extra few soles from you. This proved to be pretty true. Within a few hours we had been overcharged by our first taxi, ridicuously overcharged for the use of the internet and had been verbally abused by a clown who turned very nasty when we politely declined to buy sweets from him.
A few of the 5000 varieties of potato found in Peru
day - Good Friday, was our tour of the Sipan archeological site and the museum which showcases the majority of the findings. As a part of our tour we also got a visit to the less known archeological site of Tucame. The site in Sipan was only discovered in 1987 when a local archeologist became aware of a large number of beautiful objects being sold on the black market. After careful questioning he discovered that tombs had been uncovered by looters. Fast protective action by the police stopped the plundering and scientists were able to uncover more tombs which are thought to go back over 1,500 years to the time of the Moches and includes the burial site of the lord of Sipan. As the Wari tribe overthrew the Moches they took over the site for their own use as did the Chimu and finally the Incas.
Our first stop was to the museum in Lambayeque which contains Sipan´s and some of Tucame´s findings. Here you can see various ceramics, clothing and jewelry from which much about the tribes has been learned. The whole thing was fascinating and our guide Julio was very informative but fast paced - great
Thoroughly amused by a game of BINGO
for someone like me with a terrible attention span.
Julio was 19 years old and had taught himself English, firstly by listening to the Beatles and then by buying tape and video learning aids. After the museum we had lunch and chatted to him. He was a genuinely nice and interesting guy who gave us an insight in to his country and the people.
At the Sipan site you can see the actual sites of some of the tombs including the Lord. The Lord was buried wearing all his royal attire including crown, nose-ring etc. He was positioned in the centre of a large tomb with his priest to his left - and a llama which they believed would carry him to his next life, his wife at his feet, two concubines above him and a guardian to his right. The guardian, a boy of 18 had had his feet chopped off so that even after death he would never be able to leave the Lord´s side. The Lord et al were surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of cups containing food and drink. They had been left as offerings bvy the mourners as it was thought that they would be needed for Sustenance in the next life.
What with it being Good Friday - a national holiday the sites were quite busy with Peruvian tourists. A mother approached us and asked us to be in some photos with her children. it was apparently the novelty of our blond hair and blue eyes. We obliged though I wasn´t sure whether I felt like a film star or a freak but Noel thinks its our resemblance to Britney and Justin.
At Tucame we saw the pyramids - its a large site though little excavation has been done and little accept Inca burials has been found. There was a large security presence on both Sipan and Tucame. Julio explained that this is necessary over Easter Weekend because the Peruvian ´Catholics´believe that if they loot the tombs over this period the deceased´s spirit will not haunt them. When I asked Julio how Catholic this notion of digging up and stealing from dead people was, he said that Peruvian Catholics had their own rules and many even have several wives. At the end of the day Julio offered to give us some artefacts that he had found in the area of the Sipàn pyramids, which could have been 1,500 years old. However as good travellers we declined.
That evening we decided to celebrate Easter early by having Easter eggs infront of the TV. From our bedroom we could hear a parade in the street below so we went out and had a look. It was all very sombre and serious.
Our bus to Lima was leaving at 9.30pm the next day so after checking out of our hostel we amused ourselves by exploring more of the town including looking around Chiclayo market. The market is massive and includes some really interesting sections such as the witches market which sells all sorts of potions and animal bones. I wish my Spanish was up to inquiring what everything was for. In the afternoon we sat in the central plaza and Noel got talking to a Peruvian English teacher called Tomas. He was very friendly and showed us some of his photos. It was good to meet another nice Peruvian who wasn´t on the make.
Before getting our bus we ate in a Chinese restaurant, the poshest place we´d been to in a long time - the toilets even had toilet paper. After a pleasent meal we were pretty riled when the waiter tried to overcharge us. On questioning he tried to justify the price by writing random number on a bit of paper. Not surprisingly we were not fooled. He soon backed down but by now had stuffed up any chances of receiving a tip.
Our overnight bus journey was pretty uneventful and the scenary was just desert - though we had a bit of excitement the following morning. At six-thirty am we were woken up by blaring music from the stereo. This was followed by the serving of cake for breakfast and a game of BINGO. Everyone on the bus was given a bingo card and became thoroughly engrossed in the game. The lucky winner was congratulated and even got the say her name over the tannoy. Very amusing.
We arrived in Lima at 8.00am and decided to get another bus directly to Ica as big cities aren´t really our thing. After another 5 hours of travelling we arrived and got a cab the 4 km out of Ica to Huacachina, which is a tiny resort village dominated by a backdrop of giant sandunes next to a small lagoon.