Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Chiclayo to Chimbote

Sun 27th to Mon 28th November

First stop today are the Sipan Tombs about 35 km east of Chiclayo. Off the Pan American and onto Peru's rural road network we left good tarmac for a mixture of pot holes and dirt

The discovery of these tombs in 1987 is considered to be the most important archaeological discovery in the previous 30 years.

The tombs, built with mud bricks, were originally much like pyramids but resemble little more than hills today as the weather has reduced them to a pile of earth.

Load of pottery pots discovered in the tombs

Bob in his rightful place (according to him at least)

Lord of Sipan whose tomb was discovered here, was head of the Moche culture that ruled the Northern coast of Peru from about 1 AD to 700 AD.

After visiting the museum and walking over the tombs, we decided to take a short cut (ha, ha) to Huanchahco via a road that didn’t even show on our sat nav’s.

All started well enough as we passed through some rural villages on dirt roads.

Unfortunately in rural areas rubbish is universally dumped at the side of the road and apart from looking awful can smell pretty ripe too.

A little later things got a little more difficult as Terry tried to negotiate a rather deep water filled hole. So far so good.........

Whilst the rest of us were sitting watching he then decided to drop it in the soft sand. After a quick scout ahead conditions didn't improve, so being the mature sensible folk we are, we decided to retrace our steps!

Perhaps we should use the local transport of choice in these rural parts.

We eventually found the safety of tarmac and the Pan American highway but we were then treated to a sand blasting from the desert being blown across the road by strong winds off the Pacific Ocean.

Our overnight stop was Huanchaco a seaside town of little note other than as a surfing beach.....

..... and where surfing was invented. The local indians apparently started the sport by standing up on these reed boats and riding the waves.

Monday - First off we visited the ruins at Chan Chan, the largest Pre Colombian city in South America, located just outside of Trujillo. The city grew out of the remnants of the Moche civilisation (Sipan) and was built by the Chimu around 850 AD and thrived until it was conquered by the Incas in 1470.

The city was built out of Adobe brick (mud bricks) and was decorated by intricate designs. At its height around 30,000 inhabitants lived in the city which due to the materials used in its construction has been largely destroyed by the passage of time.

Remnants of the intricate designs.

Leaving Chan Chan we headed back to the Pan American and South towards Chimbote. We have ridden through desert for most of the time we have been in Peru so far, however, vast areas of it are being reclaimed.......

Large Agro companies have bought huge areas and have spent millions on complex irrigation systems bringing water down from the mountains to enable all sorts of crops to be grown, such as citrus fruits, sugar cane, potatoes, maize and much more.

From what we can tell most of the people who work for these large agricultural companies are bussed to the plantations from communities such as this and must be paid next to nothing for their labours. I wonder how we'll feel about that when we get home and buy fresh veg or fruit in Sainsbury's and see 'produce of Peru' on the label.

On the road to Chimbote the desert scenery is quite dramatic.....

...... with a moon like appearance and no vegetation to break the starkness. It's quite stunning in its bleakness.

Our hotel at Chimbote was comfortable enough but was what I would have imagined hotels in Russia to have been like during the communist era. Cold, long narrow corridors with rows of doors leading into sparsely furnished rooms and staffed by elderly men who look suspiciously at you.

Tomorrow we tackle one of Roger's gravel roads through the mountains.

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