The Temple of Mud

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May 7th 2009
Published: May 27th 2009
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Day 766 (05.05.09)

We reached Piura, a few hours from Peru's border with Ecuador, at around 8am. Sadly we discovered that the next bus to Trujillo, today's planned destination, didn't leave until 2pm. With no choice (but desperately wanting showers after a night on the bus) we booked some tickets, dumped off our bags and headed into town for a bite to eat.

The streets of Piura were teaming with traffic from tuk-tuks to trucks and crossing the road felt like we'd gone back to Asia instead of returned to Peru. There's not an awful lot to do in Piura but we managed to fill our time with a wander around and a confusing trip to the post office to send a parcel home.

Back at the bus station and aboard the bus we were glad to have come back to the lovely comfy buses of Peru after the more rickety affairs in Ecuador and Colombia. We settled in for the ride and marvelled at the swift change in scenery from the lush tree covered hills of southern Ecuador to the vast arid deserts of Northern Peru.

We eventually reached Trujillo about 24 hours after we left Vilcabamba and, having had our fill of city life in busy Piura this morning, opted to head out to the smaller coastal town of Huanchaco just a few kilometres away. A bite to eat and a VERY welcome hot shower in our gorgeous room at Hotel Plazzas finished off a long day of travel.

Day 767 (06.05.09)

The reason we'd come to this area was to visit the huge mud brick temples at Chan Chan situated between Trujillo and Huanchaco (so easily visited from either). We hopped on a bus, got off on the main road and walked down the dusty track to get to the temple entrance.

After our recent extravagant trip to the Galapagos we've been on a stricter budget so opted not to go for a guide and just to wander around ourselves. Built by the Chimu Empire in around 1300AD, this was once the largest adobe city in the world and from 9 large palaces on the site the most well preserved (and recently restored) is Tschudi Palace which you are able to visit.

The towering mud walls were extremely impressive and we really enjoyed walking around looking at the huge square courtyards, amazingly intricate friezes of waves and fish and the large tomb where the Chimu King would have been buried.

Our entrance ticket also included some other sites so after a bit of lunch we visited the much smaller platformed structure of La Huaca Esmerelda. The highlight here was not the temple itself but the pair of Peruvian hairless dogs that live there. With a higher body temperature than normal dogs they have no need of fur but have apparently been used in the past as treatment for arthritis and other ailments, kind of like a live hot water bottle! Their skin felt pretty good actually, like stroking a soft leather jacket.

Back in Huanchaco after our sightseeing we made ourselves a delicious dinner of ceviche with fish that Mark had picked up fresh from the market this morning, a very popular local dish made from raw fish "cooked" in a marinade of lime juice, red onion and chilli it made a delicious dinner.

Day 768 (07.05.09)

We were catching the night bus out tonight so decided on a lazy morning before heading out to the market for some cheap lunch. We spent the afternoon wandering around the town and along the beach front watching the long waves curling and crashing into the shore.

We watched with fascination as locals headed out into the ocean in their reed boats. Named caballitos, or little horses, the small high ended rafts are paddled out to sea with a stick of bamboo to collect the catch of the day. Stacked up along the beach these cool little boats make for an excellent town trademark!

After watching a lovely sunset over the pier and catching a little bus into Trujillo later that night we managed to get an excellent deal on a full cama bus giving us large arm-chair style seats and a fairly good night of sleep over the 10 hour journey south to Lima.

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