28 - PERU
Border to Chiclayo - 09/6/04 - 24/6/04
Peruvians are cheeky! At least the first few we met at the border were.
The customs guy was trying to buy the bike off R for a fiver and I was surrounded by taxi drivers having a great laugh at my expense.
The joker of the bunch was asking me all the usual stuff about the bike and realizing I didn't understand everything, decided to have some fun. He started to tell me how very handsome he was among Peruvian men. This I did understand and decided to point out my much more handsome and much bigger husband just over there with the customs official. His mates all thought this very funny and there followed a big discussion which I didn't understand at all.
We had a long chat with a policeman who told us not to stop in Chimbote but apart from that said we should be fine.
It's odd but the first thing different I noticed about Peru was the transport. Each country has something different. Here they have mototaxis. Motorbike at the front but two wheels at the back with a double passenger seat and little roof. We have to ride in one! Or maybe we could do a conversion, then I could have a little lie down!
Suddenly they were everywhere and the taxis are little hatchback Daewoo's that toot continually. This area of Peru is called the Egypt of S.America because of the Pyramids and ruins. I think it's also to do with car horns, toot, toot, toot, all the time, just like Cairo.
We stayed in Piura our first night and next morning headed across the Sechura desert to Chiclayo.
On the outskirts of the town and creeping in to the desert is a huge area of makeshift housing. The shacks were constructed of what I think you would call bamboo rushing. The sort of thing Alan Titchmarsh would suggest you use as a decorative screen "to hide that unsightly compost area".
A little girl Amy's age appeared through a matting door and ran along waving at us. I thought of Amy & Owen, just back from Disneyland and all the kids I know and love back home. They're all amazingly lucky kids. We live in such a privileged little bubble in the world.
We arrived in Chiclayo and found a cool little place to stay. For a few extra bucks we could have a room with a bath. I had hardly been able to move my neck for a week and worked out the last bath we had was on the 30th Dec. It had to be done.
Used the free shampoo as bubble bath and lay in it for hours. Surrounded by privileged little bubbles.
There are lots of ruins around Chiclayo. Mud brick pyramids and cities built by the Chimu a pre-Inca civilization. We went to Tucume and Sipan. At Sipan we found ourselves with an eight year old guide named Anna. We had wandered round the open tombs and she was sitting waiting for us at the base of the pyramid. She scrambled around ahead of us pointing out the right route, openings of passageways and the towns in the distance. She knew her stuff and was very cute and patient. Think she thought we were a bit stupid really for not understanding her!
The Lord of Sipan
All the things they found at Sipan are housed in a brand new museum in Lambayeque. The finds are amazing, gold and silver jewelry, masses of pottery and loads of intricate beadwork.
It's an incredible amount of stuff and there's more to find. It has only been discovered in the last ten years but now the funding has run out.
It is a bit like Egypt here, it has that biblical feel. Very flat and dusty, irrigation channels and donkeys lugging around huge piles of sticks. The other thing in common is that none of the buildings are finished, don't know what that's about.
The market at Chiclayo is huge and sells all manor of things. I had read in our guide book that one section of it is the largest Witch Doctor's market in S.America. Well how often do you get to go to a Witch Doctor's market? Not likely to come across one at home, not even in deepest, darkest Norfolk, but then again......
So off we went, it was particularly brave of me having had recurring nightmares as a child after watching "Live & Let Die". I was half being very grown up and fine and half expecting a seven foot tall black guy, painted as a skeleton with half his head missing to leap out at any moment.
It was fascinating, all kinds of weird things, some a bit gruesome. Lots of Llama feet, snake skins and quite a few bears jaws. Hopefully no relation to Paddington. Mostly it was lotions and potions for all kinds of ailments and herbs galore. Everyone wanted to sell us little ceramic creatures, whistles & beads but being of a superstitious nature I wasn't going to risk it. Who knows what they could represent! One of the weirdest things was spying, amongst all these potions and bits of animal, a bottle of "Taboo" perfume. My Mum's favorite from the Seventies.......???
The other side of the market was food, lots of it still alive. Many fat and healthy looking chickens, some rabbits and hundreds of Guinea Pigs waiting to be put on a spit. Most worrying of all.... a puppy, looking very confused sitting in a cage with a chicken. They seem to like dogs here though so we are assuming he wasn't meant for the pot!!!
I was considering lurking around, waiting for a chance to release the Guineas but they looked kind of comfy. Think it would have taken them a while to work out the concept of freedom, by which time I would have been nabbed. Wouldn't have gone down too well with the lovely old ladies either, all their hard work. Don't need to be giving anyone else anywhere in the world anymore reason to hate the Brits at the moment either.
Watched the football. France..... well R's Dad summed it up best "sheer carelessness".
The staff at the hotel were really great. I had a cold and they kept making me hot lemonade and giving us a thermos of hot water each night so I could make Lemsips. They loved all the stickers on the bike and asked if we would put one from the hotel on. We said yes and secretly hoped it wouldn't be vile. A few days later the sticker arrived, they'd had it specially made! It's really cool.
Mummy - Lambayeque Museum
Offering Pots - Sipan
One morning we had a very rude awakening as water started coming through the ceiling above the bed! The Germans upstairs had left heir bath running all night and at 5.30am the ceiling could take it no more. I scrambled around saving our passports, wallets and watches from the bedside tables as R went and dragged a disbelieving night watchman up to see the mini Niagara in our bedroom. Think the Germans then got a rude awakening too.
When we left all the staff came to say goodbye, told us to come back and that they'd miss us. We felt quite sad.
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