Saturday, October 24, 2015

Déjà Vu, All Over Again

Map picture

In preparation for our visit yesterday to the Peruvian city of Salaverry, we had the usual briefing the night before during which a picture flashed on the screen which instantly brought back memories of having seen this structure. I even remembered the name, The Temple to the Sun. How could that be? I had never been to the town of Salaverry. So I started asking some questions of the expedition staff, but all that I came up with was that I was mistaken and confusing this with some other monument.

After our arrival into the small town of Salaverry, we boarded busses that quickly entered the Pam American highway headed into the third largest city in Peru, Trujillo. Again I had a flashback – I knew that name, but why? I actually have a list of every cruise port we have visited, and neither of these cities is on that list. Of course, I did travel before we took up cruising, but I just could not remember.

We arrived into the historic center of Trujillo, where we got off to walk around the Plaza. On our drive in, we were witness to the same development seen earlier on this trip. We had a fairly modern and bustling city surrounded by small one room shanties. We even saw a large area of “dwellings” which consisted of nothing but cardboard and bamboo boxes that stretched in long lines; clearly Peru is in transition.

The Plaza was immaculate however, and very beautiful. A Cathedral dominated one end, and surrounding the plaza were historic buildings. Some were luxury hotels now, some were government buildings, and one was a fully restored residence which we went to visit. However, our real purpose in visiting Trujillo was to go outside the city to the Valley of Chicama where discoveries in the last 25 years have revealed one of the most important archaeological finds in all of Peru-- the ruins of El Brujo, a ritualistic complex of the Mochica Culture, who thrived from around 1 AD until 740 AD.

Leaving the city, brought us to a turn off onto a small winding road with structures on both sides. That creepy feeling started to come back, and I had visions of this as an old dusty road where people walked or rode donkeys, not one paved with traffic. The road came to a sharp turn and there in front of us was the enormous Temple to the Sun, and I recognized it immediately. It is one of the largest adobe structures in the world, and I can vividly remember climbing to the top to survey the surroundings which at that time was just a few small farms. I was told that it was believed that an important city was in the adjoining field, but it had never been excavated. As it turns out, that suspicion was all too true since when digs started in 1990, they located an incredible find. Now I remembered the city of Trujillo, but why had I come there – well, I searched my map and found on the other side of the city, the ancient Mochican city of Chan Chan. Some 40 years ago I had come to this city on a one day excursion from Lima to see the ruins of Chan Chan. The Sun Temple was an afterthought to kill time while waiting for the late flight back to Lima.

What archaeologists have uncovered rivals work by the Egyptians. After our arrival to the complex yesterday, we set out to visit the massive digs which are still very much a work in progress. Our first problem was to navigate the 175 stairs to climb the 300 ft. to where the digs were visible. Slowly but surely Lisa and I made it, only to find that that may have been the top of the stairs but once inside there were many more stairs. Still what greeted our eyes was amazing! Buried beneath the dry desert for hundreds of years was a richly constructed decorated structure that for the most part still retained its brilliant colors. We walked around under the scaffolding simply amazed when a member of our expedition team said, “the best is yet to come.” Climbing further we came to a rather steep ramp down almost 150 feet at the bottom of which had been uncovered a huge wall which was richly decorated with colorful friezes and colored relief panels. I was truly amazed. We were running at that point because touring the ruins had taken longer than anticipated and suddenly we were being told we had 10 minutes to get back to our busses, BUT it had taken me 40 minutes to walk this far. I then heard a commotion and turned around to see Lisa being taken away in a police car while she frantically waved at me from the back seat. WHAT? Lisa arrested in Peru – this is about to get serious. What in the world had she done, step on some sacred stone? I ran to where a crowd had gathered to learn that far from being arrested the police had kindly offered to drive her back to the bus since there was no way she would have been able to make the walk. Quickly I decided to get “arrested” too! It took some effort by the expedition team, but about 15 minutes later the police showed up, and out steps two attractive young women, both armed mind you, and I went up and told them just to put the flex cuffs on and arrest me, too. We all laughed, and they got me back to the bus in plenty of time to spare without the flexi cuffs.

After lunch, the ship anchored off some small islands which were home to huge colonies of birds and sea lions where they offered a 90 minute zodiac tour around the islands. Lisa and I were so tired that we opted to take a nap, and I think wisely so. I went up on deck to take a picture where the smell of guano wafting from the island was so strong – I can’t imagine getting closer.

Tomorrow morning we have a bit of a break before we visit a very famous museum in Lima, Peru in the afternoon.

I am sorry I am so behind on my pictures and e-mails, but this is a really busy cruise, and last night we stayed up late having a private dinner with the Captain.


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