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Published: February 17th 2014
16 February 2104 – Sunday – Trujillo, Peru
We woke early after a soundless and deep sleep and had a wonderfully hot and long shower in our ultra-cool open-plan hip bathroom. We then Skype-connected with the DeLaVega’s in County Meath, Ireland and met newly born Noah Samuel – congrats to Sarah and David, and also to Grandma Betty and Grandpa Paul!
The brand new hotel Due does not offer breakfast so we ate the leftovers from yesterday’s bus journey and then we walked out to the main road and with the help of a young Peruvian woman we hailed a little yellow banger of a taxi to take us the 4 kilometres into the Plaza des Armes that is the centre of this city.
Trujillo is located on the banks of the Moche River near its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. It was the site of the great prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before they were conquered by the Incas. And it is the centre of the second most populous city of Peru with just under 1 million people.
The tourist office is located on the Plaza des Armes so we visited it and received an
excellent map from the very friendly and helpful attendant who had very good English. She gave us some information on local places to visit, how to get there by local bus or taxi and what to expect to pay.
Our next stop was a walk through the wide open square that is the Plaza des Armes. In this square is located the cathedral of the city, colonial and republican mansions, all freshly- and brightly-painted. In December of 1820 it was the scene of the proclamation of Independence of Trujillo from Spain. At its centre is Trujillo’s Freedom Monument.
From there we visited the Casona Deza Cafe for a lunch of cream of vegetable soup and triple decker grilled chicken sandwich with oven-baked baby potatoes. We sat outside in the courtyard of a wonderful colonial building. We had to sit under an umbrella as the sun was beating down heavily from directly overhead.
After lunch we caught another taxi out to the archaeological site of Chan Chan. During its heyday about 600 years ago, Chan Chan was the largest city in all of the Americas and the largest adobe city on earth. It contained over ten thousand structures,
some with walls of 30 feet in height. Palaces and temples were decorated with elaborate carved friezes, some of which were hundreds of feet in length. Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu civilization which lasted from 850 to 1470 AD. The adobe metropolis was the centre of power for an empire that stretched over six hundred miles, from just south of Ecuador to central Peru. As many as 60,000 people lived in Chan Chan. Most were servants of the monarch and privileged, wealthy classes of highly skilled craftsmen and priests. The Chimu people followed a strict hierarchy based on the belief that all men were not created equal. According to Chimú myth, the sun populated the world by creating three eggs: gold for the ruling elite, silver for their wives and copper for everybody else. (Not being a student of ancient civilizations, all this particular history was new to me.) Chan Chan's days of glory came to an end when the Inca conquered the city and broke up the Chimú Empire and brought many of Chan Chan's craftsmen to their own capital, Cuzco and Machu Picchu nearly 600 miles to the southeast (and a destination next week for
When we arrived at Chan Chan I forgot the camera in the taxi. I noticed it missing within about 5 minutes, as we were purchasing our entrance tickets, and ran back out into the parking lot but the taxi had already departed. I was very angry and upset with myself and my carelessness. We reported it to the two tourist police officers who were present at the sight and they took down the details, including the registration number of the taxi that Joan somehow remembered and then proceeded to walk around the archaeological site. I was seething with anger at myself and Joan was upset as well and we walked through the site without taking in or appreciating its magnificence or grandeur. We stopped frequently to discuss the lost camera and knew that we would never see the camera again and what we were going to do to replace it.
After the hour-long circuit of the archaeological site we returned to the entrance to catch a taxi back to town. A man at the entrance waved to me and after a second I recognized the man as the taxi driver. He had returned with the camera and
was waiting for me. I was so relieved and grateful and happy that I broke down in tears right there in the car park (and I am tearing up a bit writing this). What started out as great disappointment was immediately transformed into relief and then joy by this Peruvian taxi man’s honesty! I did not get the man’s name but I shall be forever grateful to him; and he has a story to tell to his children about the gringo who cried happy thankful tears!
Even though we had exited the site, we were allowed back in and repeated our walk through it and took many photographs.
The taxi back into town dropped us again at the Plaza des Armes and we repaired back to Casona Deza Cafe where we had two excellent strong Peruvian coffees and cake (lemon meringue for Joan and double chocolate for me). This cafe is a wonderfully comfortable place to sit and talk and read and research on the internet. We were pleasantly passing time again in the open air courtyard when the young Canadian couple we had shared a taxi with the previous evening arrived. It was their second visit to
the cafe that day also; they had a quick coffee and cookies for their breakfast before going out on an all day highlights of Trujillo tour that started at the tour operator next door.
We chatted about wine in Canada and Americans and travel in South America and wineries in Europe and politics and a little about jazz (but not too much). It was evening as we left the cafe and we headed back through the Plaza des Armes which was now full of families. We stopped for a few minutes to listen to a gathering of about a dozen young men group-rapping. At least I think that is what it was. One man would say his piece while the others kept a beat and when he was finished another would take up where he left off. Even the park policeman was intrigued by the performance (or maybe he was making sure there was no political content in the vocals!). We couldn’t understand a word but it was interesting to observe nonetheless.
We walked back along Calle Larco 4 kilometres and we stopped at Roky’s and shared half a rotisserie chicken that was delicious, french fries and split
a large Peruvian lager. We stopped at a grocery store and bought some breakfast items for tomorrow morning. We have reserved a taxi for 8am to take us to visit the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon on the outskirts of town. They are from the world of the Moche kingdom which we will also learn about tomorrow.
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