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29 - PERU

Chiclayo to Huaraz  -  24/06/04 - 08/07/04

Fishing Boats - Huanchaco

We didn't have far to go that day and arrived in Huanchaco a small fishing village just north of Trujillo. Having been in cities for so long it was really good to find a room overlooking the beach. I love listening to the sea as I go to sleep, reminds me of being in Cornwall.

Portugal.... why? why?? why???

We found Jerome (JB) in Trujllo, who we'd met in Quito and caught up with his news. He'd been stuck further north in Peru waiting for parts for his bike and had been back on the road just a couple of days.

There are more ruins here and we went to visit the Moche Pyramids. The archaeology being done by the University of Trujillo is being sponsored by the local beer company. They have opened up the Pyramid of the Moon which unlike anywhere else we have seen was built in layers. Each time a king died a new layer was built. It's a really great set up with free English speaking guides. The original colours on the walls that have been uncovered is incredible.

The Pyramid of the Sun which is twice the size but half destroyed by the Spanish has yet to be investigated.

Moche Pyramid

It's amazing to think these huge structures are still just sitting here waiting to be explored, when there's hardly an inch left uncovered in Egypt and the Yucatan. It's all about money, as ever.

They have had quite a pounding though. It seems the Spanish gave little regard to preserving anything in their search for gold and being mud brick the El Nino phenomenon has reeked havoc.

The fishermen in Huanchaco have the most unusual and cool little boats. They only exist here and are called Caballitos de Totora. "Little Horses". Totora is the type of reed they are made from.

They ride them in and out like surfboards. There are lots of surfers here but the fishermen are much better.

St. Peter arrives!!

Yesterday was St. Peter's day, patron saint of fishermen. There was a parade from the church, perched on the hill above the town. They carried an effigy of the man down to the beach where they loaded him in to a large reed boat along with the mayor and other town dignitaries. They were then rowed out accompanied by all the fishermen on their caballitos to deposit flowers in the sea. Then back to town for a slap up lunch. The mayor, who had ridden standing on the edge of the boat like a cool dude in his suit, was hoisted over the shoulder of one of the larger fishermen and carried through the surf to the cheers of the whole town.

Fireworks, toffee apples, and sticky cakes all round! Isn't religion fun?!!

Whilst we'd been waiting for St. Pete to arrive we were amazed to spy Justin mooching along the street. We met him on the ferry from Baja to the Mexican mainland, had high hopes of meeting up with him again but our paths had never quite crossed. As he said "like herding cats". We had exchanged a few emails in the last six months so knew he was being as tardy as us but couldn't quite believe the luck of just bumping in to him like that.

Out to Sea

He's off home to the States for a couple of months so we spent the evening catching up. Lots of beers and lots of hugs.

Next day we left the internet cafe and found Ian admiring our bike.

Ian is 61, from Yorkshire and travelling on an Africa Twin. He likens himself to a scrap yard dog that's been on a chain all it's life and has just escaped!

He left home for a few months in 2001 and hasn't been home since. He was going north so we had a few beers, exchanged emails and went our separate ways.

We had one more site to visit before we left. Chan Chan, the capital city of the Chimu people.

You only ever hear about the Inca's when it comes to Peru but they were very recent really. There were many other civilisations way before they came along. The Inca's kind of bashed everyone else and then got bashed by the Spanish.

Wooden Idol - Chan Chan

Chan Chan is an incredible size, very sophisticated and over 1000 years old.

We had a lovely old guy who took us round. He had a conch shell, which the Chimu used as a signalling horn. The sound resonating round the Grand Plaza was wonderful. By the time we left it was almost dusk and nobody else was around, it was quite eerie.

Ian had told us that the road up to Huaraz in the mountains was amazing. Before we could turn inland we went down the coast and through the lovely town of Chimbote, where the policeman at the border had told us not to stop. It didn't seem so bad really but there was no way in the world you would even consider stopping there. The whole town is a massive fish processing plant and the stink was unbelievable. In fact the wiff started before we could see the town. Perhaps thatís all he meant. We stopped in Casma that night, the town where we needed to turn left for the mountains.

It was only about 100 miles to Huaraz but it took us five hours. Paved for about the first fifteen, then dirt and very steep and twisty. Our tyres are more suited to tarmac and getting towards the end of their life so it was quite interesting in parts.

Hero Shot

The scenery was beautiful but unfortunately we spent all our time looking at the road. It got higher and higher and narrower as we climbed. Luckily there was little traffic as it was quite hairy when we met anything coming the other way. Quite what they do when two buses meet I don't know.

We came round one corner and could see the road cut out of the side of the next mountain, gradually climbing. I'm glad to say at that point I couldn't tell how narrow it was or I may have wanted to turn round. A sheer drop with no protection whatsoever. The pass was at 12000 ft and bloody cold but finally we were on our way down again.

There was Huaraz in the valley below. We twisted our way down the mountain, passing llamas and lots of people farming impossibly steep land. Came across an old lady with some goats and a couple of donkeys that were meandering along. R decided he couldn't be waiting for donkeys to decide which way to go so rode straight through the middle of them! Think we just made it as they chose that moment to decide they wanted to be much closer to each other.

Teacher's on the march

Lurked in town for a day, had lunch in a cafe overlooking the square. Just feeling very relaxed when the riot police turned up. Then we heard chanting and saw placards coming round the corner. Got slightly nervous as there has been some trouble recently. Nobody likes the Pres. The government is corrupt and the Pres apparently takes so much coke he thinks everything is just fine and he's the man!! The indigenous people down at Lake Titicaca actually lynched their mayor. Anyway it turned out to be the teachers on the march and they were all very reasonable. Riot police looked a bit silly, just had to stand around with their shields trying to blend in.

The town was full of serious mountain climbers planning expeditions. Not much else to do there but admire the scenery so we decided to split.


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