Huaca de La Luna Day 269 Friday 6th July
The designs on the temple wall
The breakfast at the hotel is pretty good and included fresh fruit, eggs, toast and juice so it was a good start to the morning. Our first missions today are to get our laundry done and airline tickets out of here. The first thing was the laundry which was easy and will be ready today at 5.00pm the next one the tickets were also easy and we have decided to fly all the way through to Trujillo which turned out to be expensive but worth it. We then did some site seeing which involved a few steps to the Plaza de Armas (note there is a plaza by this name in every town) to see the Casa de Fierro (Iron House) which was designed by Gustave Eiffel. It was made in Paris in 1860 and imported in pieces to Iquitos in 1890 during the rubber boom. There were three imported but only one exists today these buildings where designed to be portable and Eiffel unveiled the design at the Paris Exhibition in 1878. Note we had walked past the building several times yesterday and not known, it is not till you look at it that
The quality buses of Iquitos
you realise it is iron. We looked around a small market area and then moved onto Raimondi and Malecon Tarapaca which are decorated with Azulejos (handmade imported tiles from Portugal) these were used to decorate the buildings during the rubber boom.
On the way back we stopped at a café for a milkshake and as we stepped in the heavens opened up and it poured and poured. We lingered for as long as we could and then moved onto a tacky souvenir shop till it eventually stopped.
Hit the streets in the late afternoon and ended up at the Karma café where we stopped for a drink and eventually a feed. Met up with some of the guys from the boat who were out for a big night out, but we thought we would bail early. Day 270 Saturday 7th July
Over breakfast it started to rain and then kept getting heavier till around 9.30 when it started to ease, and gave us the chance to hit the streets. We walked the 10 blocks through town to the Belen markets, which is the main produce and goods markets for the locals. Markets are
Casa de Fierro (Iron House)
such are great way to get a feel of a town and to also gawk at stuff you just don’t see at your local supermarket. Of course a lot of the stuff you see at local markets you are quite glad the local Woolies don’t stock. The market was filled with lots of house hold goods, toys, kitchen ware, and of course food. The meat section of course was filled with all sorts of horrors to fill a Vegetarian’s sleep with nightmares, but it all looked really fresh and wasn’t stinky like a lot of markets we have been to. The fish section was truly extraordinary and the variety of species on offer was staggering, most of which we have never seen before. Of course the downside to all of this “exotic” is the fact that a lot of what is on offer is “exotic”. We had read that the market was filled with people selling turtles, caiman and monkeys, but fortunately we only saw turtles (I guess not so fortunate for the turtles). It is a sad fact that the locals here still eat animals which if not already endangered are heading that way, but hopefully the trend is
The street leading to the Belen Market
slowly changing and in years to come it may stop all together.
Besides all the dissected meat there was also heaps of great fruit and veg, along with an aisle filled with herbal remedies. Some of the remedies were just the loose herbs in packets whilst others were in prepared formulas in sealed bottles. We could just imagine trying to get them through Australian customs. At the back of the markets was another aisle filled with guys making cigarettes, cutting the leaf and rolling them into papers. They were very loose and large, and certainly had a distinct smell.
Whilst we were walking around it was drizzling a bit and a lot of the market was a mud hole and the deeper we walked the worse it got. We had foolishly worn our sandals so after a couple of hours of walking around our toes were covered in mud…well we think it was mud. It is a bit hard walking around too because the market is up and down a lot of the streets and you have to watch out for motorbikes and the auto rickshaws. The drivers and riders in Iquitos are really aggressive and you have
to keep a close eye on them. Sometimes when crossing the street riders would seem to speed up or even swerve to hit us. I think they may have been swerving to miss a pothole but the point is if you are in Iquitos watch out.
With muddy feet we decided to head home, and along the way passed heaps of hairdressers, filled with transgenders, which is another interesting aspect of this town in that it is a kind of gay capital of Peru. We saw quite a few gay guys on the boat and then again around town, which isn’t what we had expected for this rough frontier town at in the Amazon, but apparently they even have a gay pride march every year. I sort of felt like I should be singing Monty Python’s “the lumberjack song” as I walked around town.
I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay
I sleep all night and work all day
I cut down trees, I skip and jump
I like to press wildflowers
I put on Women’s clothing
And Hang around in bars
Unsure if the gay community gets a hard time or not,
A potion for everything
but it is very out in the open so we sort of figured that the locals are fine with it which is great to see.
We were going to head out to a butterfly farm/ small zoo in the afternoon but the rain came back on and off and so we opted to give it a miss. Tonight after seen so much meat I went a great falafel burger, something along with the transgender community we hadn’t expected to see in Iquitos. Day 271 Sunday 8th July
Our flight wasn’t till 1 in the afternoon so we could in theory sleep in till late but we needed to pack our bags and it wasn’t going to be easy. Because we were flying today our sleeping bags rather than hanging on the outside of our bags needed to go inside along with two bulky hammocks, and all this posed a serious problem for us. It was a huge battle but somehow it all seemed to fit except the tear in my back pack has now grown to about 60mm. We needed to get to the airport by 11 so we decided to check out at 10.30
Fish in the market
and when we did we got offered a free transfer to the airport. This was such a great surprise and so we jumped at the offer.
Had to wait till 10.50 before we got picked up and it was a twenty minute ride to the airport where we were able to check in without any hassle. Because we had to weigh our bags at check in we discovered that Shelley’s bag now weighs 20 Kilos and mine weighs 25 kilos, so we aren’t doing too bad hauling all this crap around with us. The Iquitos airport is a pristine fairly modern little place and was an easy place to hang around for a bit waiting for our plane. The flight to Lima took 1 hour and 30 minutes, so it seemed like a blink of an eye and we were once again in the Lima terminal. This was the third time we have been to Lima airport and we are yet to set foot in the city. All going well we will be able to walk the streets of Lima in a couple of weeks but today we had to content ourselves with once again having a late lunch
in the terminal. Our onward flight arrived at 5.05pm and we safely landed in Trujillo at 6.00pm. It had taken us nearly 2 weeks of buses and a boat to get to Iquitos and a bit under 2 and half hours of flying to get us near to where we had begun…the wonders of the jet age.
Trujillo is a coastal town with a population of nearly 300,000 and is about two hours south of Chiclayo where we were a couple of weeks ago. This morning we started out in the wet tropical jungle and this afternoon we were once again in the dry dusty coastal region. As per usual our bags were the last to come off the plane and we were the last to walk out of the terminal and so therefore missed the last available taxi. Before we had time to panic a guy came running up to offer us a lift into town for a silly 30 Sol ($12), which was 10 Sol ($8) more than the recommended price for a genuine taxi. He had a good go at haggling the price up but after pointing out the printed sign standing 2 metres from where
Shelley leaving town
we were standing showing the recommended prices he agreed to the 20 sol ($8). This of course was still about double what the fare should be but sometimes you are just happy to pay it. For our money we got to ride in the guy’s beaten up black family sedan, but it got us to our hotel The Hostal Colonial.
Hadn’t pre booked this place so was glad when they could get us a room, and whilst checking in we got talked into doing a tour tomorrow around the nearby historical sites. We knew we would have to do the sites via an organised tour and so to arrange it so late the day before we wanted to do it was sort of a bonus although we are unsure how good it is going to be. After dropping off our bags we went for a quick walk around the area and picked up a toasted sandwich at a nearby café. Day 272 Monday 9th July
The tour today starts at 10.30am so we had plenty of time for breakfast and to get ready. We walked out the front of the hotel and were picked up
The Amazon River from the air
at 10.45am, the sites are very close to town so it did not take long to get to the first stop Museo de la Huaca de La Luna. This museum contained amazingly preserved pottery pieces that were used for offerings and are so beautifully decorated. Unfortunately Trujillo was the first town that Francisco Pizarro founded in Peru on his way to wipe out the Incas and so this area was heavily plundered by the Spanish so there are not many metal artefacts left here, but it is a well presented museum with English descriptions. The tour today is very rushed and we only had half an hour to wander around, although it is a small museum more time would have been nice. The museum is situated near the major attraction of the Huaca de La Luna (Temple of the Moon) and the Huaca Del Sol (Temple of the Sun which is not open for tours). The temples were used by the Moche people for about 6 centuries to 600 AD and made from mud bricks meaning time or more specifically the rain has not been kind. The Huaca Del Sol is the largest single pre-Columbian structure in Peru, but about
The spreading town
one-third has been washed away and if off limits even the archaeologists are not working on it at present. It is thought the Huaca Del Sol may have been more administrative, military, residential and burial.
The Huaca de La Luna is located 500 metres away and although smaller some of the decorated walls and main entrance are still visible. It is thought to have served a largely ceremonial and religious function, though it contains burials. There are 5 layers to the temple the first temple is the smallest and approximately a 100 years later the next temple was built enveloping the first and so on like Russian Babushka Dolls. Inside the temple the walls of the 4th
layer are visible with their ornate decorations some of which are well preserved with the colours on the designs still present. Archaeologists have the difficult decisions on where to dig and how far, because to get to the earliest levels means destroying the more recent construction. At present they have chosen to avoid any major excavations through the pyramid and so the first and second levels remain unseen. We then walked outside to the northern wall were the main entrance to the
Statue in Plaza de Armas
temple can be seen and the original ramp. The designs on the entrance are intricate and in one section near the top with a large hole that you can just see the layer underneath. This northern face had been completely buried in sand and our guide claimed that it has only been recently opened to the public, and it was an incredible sight. Here in front of us was an ancient Pre-Columbian temple still with its original features and colours, just amazing. Because the El Nino rains are so destructive here a lot of this site is covered with an array of bamboo and steel roofs in an attempt to preserve this precious site. In the past El Nino rains have caused massive damage to uncovered temples, and so it was nice to see at this place they are at least a bit prepared for the next one, which everyone claims will be this year. At the side of the temple is a small formation made of rocks, which resembles the mountain behind. It is here that 70 warriors were sacrificed over the years, there would be a battle and the loser would be killed apparently this was a great
Huaca de La Luna
External view of the temple
From here we walked back to the front entrance to where a Biringo was laying, this is the Peruvian hairless dog, which are definitely not the most attractive dogs. The locals claim that they are good for arthritis and asthma and that you should sleep curled up with one because they give off a lot of heat. I think Scott would rather put up with his asthma than to curl up with one of these ugly things. We headed back to town for a lunch break before starting the afternoon tour which started is at 2.40pm.
The first stop in the afternoon was the small Huaca Arco Iris, which archaeologists believe was built by the Chimu culture from 1100 to 1450. It was built in abode mud bricks and decorated with friezes in relief showing stylized human figures and representing the rainbow. This pyramid/temple has 14 deposits indicating that it was not only a shrine but could have been storage for the supply of goods for the surrounding people. This site also has been badly damaged by the rains and still has no roof so will be further destroyed when the rains come again.
drove a short way down the road to Chan Chan which is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and largest adobe city in the world. It was built by the Chimu around 1300 AD and the site covers an area of approximately 20 square kilometres and had a dense urban centre of about 6 square kilometres and at its height housed 60,000 people. It contained a great wealth of gold, it was conquered by the Incas, but it was when the Spaniards came the real looting started. Like other sites Chan Chan has been severely damaged by the rains, so the main area to visit is the Palacio Nik-An (Tschudi Complex) which is a massive restored ceremonial courtyard and is about 800 metres long and 500 metres wide. Besides the main ceremonial courtyard the complex also has a vast array of buildings used by the king and priests along with a huge natural spring water reservoir. Some of the layouts of the buildings were set out like an almost labyrinth with designs of birds and fishes on the wall pointing you in the right direction. The interior walls are 4m thick and decorated with mostly recreated designs, our guide
Huaca de La Luna
The fourth level designs
did point out some original parts. It is a catch 22 if they did not restore and recreate this section it would be hard to imagine the former grandeur of Chan Chan. The Moche and Chimu probably didn’t pick the smartest product to build with in an area that cops torrential rain every 10 to 12 years, but I suppose for the rest of the time the place is dry. I guess when the El Nino rains come all the tradesman make a killing with repair work. Driving through this area all you can see are endless melted walls and piled heaps of dirt from where people have been churning the ground over in search of loot. The size of this city is truly staggering and the complex we visited was only one of at least six others of similar proportions. Our guide claimed that work is being done to excavate some of the other sites in Chan Chan and in the near future more of the city will be opened up to tourists. Clearing away the dirt probably only exposes the remaining structures to the rain so I am unsure if that is the right thing to do. For
Huaca de La Luna
Shelley and Scott
us again our time at this site was rushed which was annoying as we could have had more time here to have a wander around and especially as the small museum for Chan Chan is closed on Mondays and it meant we would end up getting back to the hotel early.
The last stop of the day was totally different, Huanchaco which is a small fishing village that is quickly changing to a surf hangout. The local fishermen still use the same narrow curved reed boats depicted on 2000 year old Moche pottery. They straddle the boats and paddle out to sea which leads to the nickname caballitos de tortora (little horses). It was nice being down on the beach and seeing the surf but we only had 30 minutes here, which wasn’t enough time to do much and too much time to just sit around.
We arrived back at the hotel at 5.30pm a whole hour earlier than we were told, I guess you can’t expect much for 60 sols each for both tours. We got ready and hit the town about 7.30pm going to a bar recommended in the LP, which we walked straight out of
because a Pisco Sour there is 20 sol ($8) and I know the café from yesterday only charges 10 sol. After a long walk we settled on Restaurant Demarco which is very average my ravioli was only about an entrée size although Scott’s spaghetti was a decent size the problem came with the bill. The bill was the carbon copy and the price looked like 95 sols which was about 20 more than we thought it should be when I asked I was told that 10 sols was for the bread that they put on the table a first in South America, the bread is always free. I think they hope that you do not check the bill anyway the bill miraculously went down to 75 sols which is what is should have been.
Day 273 Tuesday 10th July
We went to Oviedo Café for breakfast and then went to Linea bus company to discover there are only night buses to our next destination Huaraz. We had initially hoped to do a scenic trip through Cannon del Pato, but it involved 3 buses and an overnight stay in a small town to get the second
Huaca de La Luna
The impressive entrance wall
connection early in the morning. It is awful to say but we just could not be bothered and there was no guarantee the times we had were still current, so after much discussion we opted for the easy overnight option. This effectively means we have another whole day in Trujillo which is annoying and we will have to plan better as it seems most of the buses are overnight in Peru. We then hit the streets to look around this beautiful colonial town. It is full of great building and so many churches and the Plaza de Armas with the statue dedicated to the work, arts and liberty. This was the first Peruvian town to declare independence from the Spanish and in the 20th
century the bohemians flocked to the city. By the afternoon we had seen the town, so we are not sure what we will be doing tomorrow to fill in time till our bus.
In the evening we went for a long walk trying to find somewhere different to eat and eventually ended up back in the mall, but a different restaurant La Strada which was much cheaper and had some different options like duck and
Huaca de La Luna
The hole in the entrance wall
lamb not the usual chicken and chips. The food was nice but the service was slow so you would not want to be in a hurry.
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