Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Galápagos Islands (12th-19th July 2011)

The Galápagos Islands stretch over a 320km axis from east to west and the equator passes precisely across the crater of Wolf volcano in the north of Isabela Island.  The archipelago is made up of 19 islands and 42 islets or surfacing rocks. The total land surface of the archipelago is just over 8,000 square kms.  The Islands are purely oceanic, which means that they have never been connected to the mainland by any sort of land bridge. The conspicuous absence of land mammals in the Galápagos also helps to confirm the oceanic Island theory.  The archipelago is entirely volcanic, and Isabela Island alone is made up of six volcanoes side by side.  Five of them are typical shield volcanoes, the craters of which are huge ‘calderas’.
The Galápagos Islands were declared a National Park in 1959.  Organised tourism began in the 1960s and by the 1990s some 60,000 people visited annually.  Today, over 100,000 people visit each year.  With increased tourism, more people have migrated to the island to work, both legally and illegally.  The dramatic increase in human activity has begun to impact the islands’ fragile ecology.  In 2005, the largest of the eighty tourist boats operating in the Galápagos held 96 passengers.  In 2006, the 500 passenger MV Discovery made its first visit to the islands.  Many see it as the writing on the wall when it comes to mass tourism in the Galápagos.
The Islands have faced other problems that include oil spills, the poaching of sea lions for their reproductive organs (which are sold on the international black market) over-fishing, illegal fishing for shark, lobster and other marine life, and the introduction of non-native animals.  Obviously, the Galápagos National Park has its hands full protecting itself.  Charles Darwin Foundation (www.galapagos.org) is a non-profit organisation in charge of protecting and studying the islands, you can donate money online if you wish.
Today I awake early to finish my preparations to leave Guayaquil and head to the airport for my journey to the Galápagos Islands. I am so looking forward to my mini holiday.  For 8 days I will not have to think about where I will be laying my head for the night, where I will find food, how will I get around to see the sights and how safe will I and my belongings be.  Speaking to other travellers on the boat (later in the week) we were all feeling the same.
Santa Cruz (Indefatigable Island) – 12/07/2011
Santa Cruz is the most central of the islands, with the largest population of all the five inhabited ones.  The town Puerto Ayora has been the main base for tourism for the last 25 years, and is home to the National Park headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Centre.  The island has all the recognised vegetation zones, though much of the native flora has been destroyed by introduced plants and animals.  The southeast is much wetter, for it faces the trade winds.  Probably the highest number of bird species can be seen overall on Santa Cruz, including nine species of Darwin’s finches and the rare Galápagos variety of Hawaiian or dark-rumped petrel.

The plane goes well and within an hour and half we descend below the clouds and I can see Islands dotted in the water below.  My excitement increases.  Before long we are landing on a small airstrip at Isla Baltra and being hustled into a tiny airport.  I clear customs, which are very strict about bringing in plant and animal matter and exiting the Island with anything (remember it is a National Park).  Then immigration, pay my $100US National Park entry and I am through.  As noted in my very detailed instructions, there was a driver waiting for me to take me to join my fellow passengers who had earlier gone through the same process as me.  We board a bus, just as every other traveller from the tiny airport has and then after a short distance we head to a small harbour and take a small boat across the narrow strait to Santa Cruz.  From here we walk to his car and we travel along a very straight and narrow road leading to the farming community of Bellavista. We leave the road and into the gates of a private farm, here I find the rest of my group walking around with our guide for the week.  I join them and our guide Christina shows me the very large tortoises, lava tubes and talks to us about the plants and birdlife in this area.  Soon we head back to the farm for a most delicious boxed lunch.  If so far has been any indication to what my week will be like, I am in for a great week.

Wild large tortoise on the farm

Lava tube on the farm,  some farms have lost their stock falling down these tubes, this was large enough for us to walk into.

Christina, our guide for the Galapagos, here she is explaining this tree is poisonous and for us not to touch.
Refreshed by a great lunch, introductions amongst the group and some new friends, we pile into our minivan and head to Puerto Ayora to visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.

Charles Darwin Research Station
Though primarily an international scientific research station and not a tourist site, this is one of the most visited spots in the islands.  It is situated just outside the town of Puerto Ayora (about a 20 minute walk) and next to the Galápagos National Park offices, with which the CDRS is closely linked. A raised wooden walkway curves through the transitional zone vegetation and on to the corrals of fully grown tortoises.  Most poignant of all is the enclosed section where ‘Lonesome George’ the sole survivor of the Pinta Island subspecies, now resides with some females from Volcán Wolf on Isabela.  Despite all encouragement he has failed to take an interest in his companions!

Here we walk around the complex with Christina explaining/informing us as we move around the several enclosures of turtle hatchings to giant tortoises .  ‘Lonesome George’ was indeed a hit, we stayed for ages watching his antics.  He apparently doesn’t move too much these days so we were very lucky.  I have dozens of photos but will just bore you with a few. 
Baby hatchings at the Charles Darwin Station

Candelabra catcus, very important plant for the life of many animals on the Galapagos

as too is the Lava catcus

Me with a rescued giant tortoise at the Charles Darwin Centre

A giant tortoise paw, they are really huge

Explaining the life cycle of the land iguana

Dear old (at around 100 years old) 'Lonesome George'
a rescued land iguana, we will see many more in the days to come

From here we walked back into Puerto Ayora, a pretty town, many tourist shops, lovely cafes, water views and a seafood market.  Here we stop for a bit to watch the fisherman try and hold onto their morning catch, the pelicans, blue-footed booby, seals and seagulls do their best to try and swipe anything while the fisherman’s attention is distracted.  We have a little time left before we need to board our boat, so my new friend and later room buddy Brandy (from San Diego) opt for a cocktail to celebrate the week ahead.  The café is lovely and we sip our cocktails and watch the world go by. Heaven!

Puerto Ayora, where Samba is waiting for us

Fresh fish at the harbour

Waiting for the fisherman's attention to lapse, a pelican and a blue footed booby
Soon it is time to board the dingy and then to board our boat.  The ‘Samba’ is just right for me, only 13 passengers (can take 16), big enough to move at a good pace, but small enough to know your fellow passengers.  During the week, her sails are raised and what a lovely sight it was.  The 9 of us board Samba and are introduced to the other 4 passengers already on board.  Soon we were allocated our ‘cabin buddies’ and cabins.  I must say both Brandy and I were very pleased with the whole boat, much more comfortable than I had really expected.  We organise our rooms and before we know it the dinner bell has been rung.  Further introductions and a lively dinner conversation flowed while eating a most delicious dinner.  First there was soup, then an array of salads, vegetables, and meats.  The dinner was finished with a scrumptious dessert.
White tablecloths, crisp table napkins, table set perfectly, yes indeed, this was going to be a great week.
The Captain lets us know that we will be navigating straight after dinner till around 3am until we reach our first Island, if anyone was prone to seasickness, now would be the time to take tablets.  It was indeed rough and many didn’t sleep well that first night, some wondering if they would see the light of day again (exaggeration) though Brandy did tell me she held onto the mattress all night.
Our boat for 8 days 'The Samba"

our bunks with towels made into rabbit ears for me

and Brandy's towel was made into a flower.


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Piura to Guayaquil- Ecuador 9th-12th July, 2011

Piura (Population around 329,200)
Fransisco Pizarro first came to the region in 1532, founding the city of Sullana, then Paita, and finally Piura after a series of mishaps, such as pirate raids and intolerable heat; thus, the city’s nickname “La Primera Ciudad” or “the first city” arose.  During colonial times, the city was also the main port, used to transport ships loaded with gold back to Spain. Once the conquistadors showed up, the mestizo and criollo culture was born and this makes up the modern day Piura.
Arriving in Piura from the South after crossing the unforgiving Sechura Desert, Peru’s oldest city is like a mirage on the horizon.  Piura, located almost 900kms from Lima, is located in the valley of the Rio Chira and is a transportation hub.

I arrive late in the afternoon and after some discussion, I find out the CIFI bus line has moved from what should have been across the road to about 5kms away.  I decide not to walk it with my pack, yeah I know slack, and take a taxi.  This ended up being a good decision as the area was very industrial.  The bus station is very new, clean and with nothing to do there to fill in the 5 hours before my overnight bus to Guayaquil departs.  I leave my large pack with the bus line and head to a Mega supamarcado I noticed coming in.  As it was still light I decided to walk the 2kms or so.  I was hoping for a café or restaurant to eat but was out of luck, though the supamercado had a dining area, expensive but I was able to waste a reasonable amount of time.  Then I went shopping, amazed with the variety of grocery, electrical, clothing and baby items up for sale.  At around 8pm (yes the supamercado was still opened and doing a roaring trade), I started my trek back, thinking I would get a taxi if I felt unsafe.  I did walk the whole way back, at no time did I feel unsafe and this certainly helped fill in a little more time.  When back at the terminal I went to the bathroom, cleaned my teeth and prepared for the overnight journey.  One day, Peru will realise how helpful a hook on the back of toilet doors, a mirror, toilet paper, soap, hand towels etc would be to the traveller.  While preparing for the night trip I met a delightful young woman, Elenite, a Peruvian working in Guayaquil.  We had a lovely conversation, well Spanish/English, we did manage to understand each other, she invited me to sit with her while we waited for the bus and then was very generous ensuring I was okay at the border crossings, just in case she was needed to translate for me.  Fortunately I didn’t need her to translate, though I was grateful to know she was there in case there was a problem.

We all board the bus at 10pm, I get comfy and before we know it the bus is quiet and we all fall asleep.  Around 3am we are awakened to disembark for our first stop, exiting Peru.  The process was long with no toilet facility, so gratefully it was not so cold.  The Peruvians can be a little annoying in lines, particularly when there are a lot of tourists, they push in constantly, sometimes they are told to go back to the end of the line by an official and luckily just as I was at the head of the line, my pushy Peruvian was told to go back. 
No problems with this crossing, we all pile back into the bus and around an hour later we were awakened again for the next border crossing, this time into Ecuador.  More lines, more forms, more impatience and then finally a stamp in my passport and tourist visa.  Eventually we are back on the bus.  I am feeling very relieved, none of the warnings had come to fruition.  I slept for a little more and then watched the changing scenery rush by.  Ecuador is much greener than the desert we had left behind in Peru.

Guayaquil (population 2,119,000 approximately) 10th-12th July
Ecuador’s biggest city is an oppressively hot, noisy and chaotic place. Guayaquil has come a long way from its dismal days as a dangerous port town offering nothing but trouble to the visitor.  The city has transformed the once crime-ridden waterfront along the wide Rio Guayas into as 2.5 km outdoor showpiece, Malecón 2000.  At the northern end of the Malecón is the historical neighbourhood of Las Peńas, refurbished into and idealised version of a quaint South American hillside village – brightly painted homes, cobblestone alleyways and all.  The stairway winding up Cerro Santa Ana has views from the hilltop fort, called Fortin del Cerro and there is a lighthouse as well.  Guayaquil’s principal downtown thoroughfare, Calle 9 de Octubre, has also been restored.  All flights to the Galápagos either stop or originate in Guayaquil.

I arrive in Guayaquil around 8am, pick up my pack and head for the taxi to take me to my Hostel.  I slept reasonably well considering it was in a semi-cama, the seat only goes back 90 degrees, no flatbed this time, though I am really looking forward to a shower.  The taxi takes me through the city and I can see it is indeed a large and overcrowded city.  I arrive at the hostel and the taxi driver was kind and rang the bell and waited till it was answered before he left me.  In South America all houses, shops etc have grill/wrought iron doors onto the street, than a timber door to enter the house.  Usually no one can enter without a key or using the bell to have someone open the door for you.  Great for security.
The door was answered by an American (Californian-married to an Ecuadorian, my hosts) and preceded with check in.  My room wasn’t ready but I was able to leave my pack.  Here I met a young French Canadian – Alex who arrived late the night before.  After some introductions, we decide to share a taxi into the city and have a walk around.  The American heard us and told us not to take any bags, no cameras, passports, bank cards etc, just take money and hide on ourselves, telling us there were thieves about and we were likely to have a knife to our throat if we took these items.  He really put the wind up us.  We did what he requested, later I wished I had taken at least my camera as I have no photos of Guayaquil and it is indeed lovely around the waterfront and Las Peńas.  Nothing happened of course and I am disappointed with myself for letting him decide my actions.  I am a careful and a clued traveller and I would have been perfectly fine.  Oh well we live and learn constantly.

My young friend (Alex) and I hop into a taxi (an ordered safe taxi) and headed first into the main square to see the many iguanas lying around a fountain and little lake, it was a lovely setting but felt sorry for the iguanas.  Then we walked up some of Calle 9 de Octubre till be reached Malecón 2000.  By this time it was mid-morning and starting to heat up.  I was still wearing long sleeves, long pants, wool socks and boots so was starting to feel the humidity.  We walked around here for a few hours and we were upset not to have had our cameras, particularly as there were many others with theirs.  The River was lovely and we watched the boats cruise along, wishing we were on one of them, catching a cool breeze.
Next we meandered along the kilometers till be reached the cobblestone alleyways and the stairway winding up Cerro Santa Ana.  This was a step climb with each step numbered, (over 300 steps- they stopped being numbered but still went steadily up) we figured seeing there was no building numbers, the step numbers helped identify the houses or buildings.  The views from the hilltop fort, called Fortin del Cerro were beautiful over the water stretching out to the islands in the distance, the weather was warm, humid and sunny and we began to huff and puff a little as we headed up to the lighthouse.  Here we walked around the cliff top, took in the magnificent view, visited the small church and enjoyed looking around a model of a ship that sailed the area, the anchor was huge.  As it was well past 1:30pm we decide to have lunch in a quirky little café with tables on a tiny verandah.  We have the menu del dia, Alex was not sure about eating locally, though after a good meal and beer for $5.00 US he decided his suggestion was fabulous!! 
We head down the stairs, past many Panama hats shops and like and head to another part of the waterfront and stroll with an ice-cream, thankfully in the shade.  Las Peńas, a beautiful area built on a hill, with lovely coloured houses, is before us but with no cameras, the heat and the walk up another hill we decide to just view the area and enjoy the colours from our vantage point. 
Around 3ish we head towards the bus station to take the bus back, another adventure in this so called dangerous town.  The Hostel guy gave us a map with directions and cost so we thought we would try.  We did eventually find the bus stop, waited for ages, finally got on the bus and with my Spanish asked to be dropped off at the intersection stated on the map.  We are not sure if the driver just had a bad day (he was cranky), was sick of tourists or my Spanish but he dropped us off kms from the right stop.  We asked for guidance from a man and with new direction we started to trudge.  To cut a very long afternoon short, we either were receiving wrong instructions or were getting them mixed up but after hours of walking I said to Alex, after he was heading in a direction I had not seen before, let’s just take a taxi.  For some reason he was determined to find the hostel on foot.  Eventually we took a taxi (I think he was frightened the taxi drivers would steal from him or worse) and sure enough we had been walking in circles.  Oh well, I grabbed a beer and a lovely long shower and settled in for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning I awakened with a cold and felt a bit miserable.  After breakfast of juice, (sweet) bread roll, jam and coffee (usual Peruvian and Ecuador hostel breakfast) I gathered my washing and headed to the nearest Lavanderia (laundry) and then as I had a heap of computer work for my trip to The Galápagos Islands, I stayed around the Hostel until early afternoon.  I checked where the best Chifa restaurant was for a good feed of chicken, rice and vegetables, picked up my laundry and began the reshuffling of my pack for my flight to Galápagos.
I slept well, showered, finished packing and was ready for my ordered taxi, however the American took it upon himself to order the taxi just as I came down explaining I didn’t need so much time at the airport.  Good on him!  After a delayed start, I arrived at the airport, managed to follow the strict instructions I received from the travel agent (in Quito) and then go through security.  All was well, I had time for a good coffee (you take these opportunities) and soon headed to the boarding gate.  We were all lined up – then a commotion at the top of the line began.  Soon passengers in every direction were shouting and complaining.  Oh oh, things may not be too good.  I headed towards the top of the line as well, trying to find out what was wrong, eventually I did and the plane was delayed 2 hours.  I tried to explain I was heading for a boat and realised everyone else would be in the ‘same boat’.  I walked back into the airport area to Skype the agent and no sooner had I put my pack down to take out my notebook when the airline representative came over and told me to come with her.  Miraculously a seat was available (I am hoping on another plane).  Then I had to run the gantlet of angry Ecuadorians shouting (at me) why I was let on the plane and not them.  I was grateful for whatever reason I was lucky enough to board and around 15 minutes later we took off heading towards my dream 8 days on the Islands.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Chiclayo (continued)

We arrive back in Chiclayo around 7ish (pm), wave farewell as we are dropped off at our hotels.  I head back to Moche Tours office to organise my bus tickets to Piura and Guayaquil, Ecuador (and my first border crossing).  Another wonderful day, filled with new friends and adventures.

The next morning, after organising my accommodation in Guayaquil in Ecuador, I head out to visit the markets to buy freshly squeezed orange juice, shop for fruit and pan (bread rolls) for my trip to Piura.  I head to Moche Tours for my bus tickets and then with advice from Anfondso, I head to another market to try (the said) best Cerviche in Peru.  Cerviche is a traditional dish of small cutlets of fish marinated in lemon juice topped with onions and aji (garlic) is especially delicious due to the extremely fresh seafood caught daily.  It is delicious and tastes very fresh, served with a chilli based sauce (use very sparingly), a yuka fritta (similar to potato) and small salad.  Luckily there was no nasty comeback later that night!  I walk back to the hotel close to 11am, finish packing and head to the bus station for the six hour bus trip to Piura.

A sideline - El Purgatorio
Túcume is also the site of a major Peruvian myth – “El Purgatorio”, or Purgatory that tells of the Spanish forcing indigenous groups to convert to Catholicism during the conquest.  Due to local resistance and strong indigenous religious ties, the Spanish were quickly frustrated with the difficulties of converting the community.  As a result, they made up the story saying that the Túcume hill was actually purgatory.  Just to make sure locals understood, several Spanish built a huge bonfire at the base of the hill, which made the entire area look like an erupting volcano.  As a result, it was easy to convince the town that people who did not believe in the Catholic faith would be readily thrown into ‘purgatory” at the bottom of the hill.

Civilisation Timeline (for those who would like some extra reading)
The Moche (100BC to 700AD)
The Moche are one of the most renowned pre-Hispanic cultures in Peru.  Recent discoveries have been have enabled researchers to launch a series of hypotheses that ultimately gave new light on the lifestyle, socio-political organisation and development of the Moche as a culture.  The remains, that this culture has left us, are truly unique, unheard of for a culture of this time period. The Moche culture developed between 100BC and 700AD on the North coast, with its principal location in Moche Valley (Trujillo). 

Lambayeque (700 AD to 1350 AD)
The Lambayeque culture developed between 700 AD and 1350 AD.  They lived in the north coast, first around the centre of Batan Gande area (900-1000BC) and then later 10 miles south-west of Túcume (1100 to1350 BC).   They went as far north as Piura and south of the Valley Chicama.  Their origins date back to the end of the Moche culture, combined with influences of the Huari and Cajamarca and as a result the Lambayeque created a new ceramic and iconographic style.

The Lambayeque ran a theocratic state with a highly stratified social structure composed of family-based elite with a divine origin, a body of administrators, a group of artisans and farmers.  Although there was some independence between these groups, they had cohesion of delivering a series of rituals and kinship alliances, which was the basis of the power structure.  One example of power and complexity of society within the Lambayeque are the magnificent royal tombs, where they found abundant spondylus and gold.  Another architectural complex contains a truncated pyramid with ramps and murals painted with motifs of birds and marine scenes in relief.

In the mythical religious spectrum, the Lambayeque culture introduced two new elements to the history of Peruvian culture.  The first was a myth where the main character, Naylamp, comes from a distant land across the sea and founded the dynasty that would later become the elite of Lambayeque.  This myth was popular at the time of the Spanish conquest and was picked up by the chronicler Miguel Cabello de Balboa in an impressive detail.  The second element is a winged figure subject of a ritual axe known as Tumi who is the central deity of the Lambayeque culture, and it is believed that this is the very image of Naylamp.  Their representation has some interesting details such as eyes with pointed ends, a prominent nose and pointed ears with large earrings.

The Lambayeque economy was based on intensive agriculture producing irrigated corn and cotton.  In Batan Grande they developed and advanced system of channels that scaled the Reque valleys, Chancay, Lambayeque and La Leche.  There were three main channels: Raca, Rumi and Chancay rivers that linked with La Leche and the Old Taymi, which supplied the northern and southern valley of Milk and Collique Canal, which in turn supplied the Zana Valley.

In the field of art, the Lambayeque culture developed fine metal work.  They were the best exponents of all Hispanic cultures in this area.  This tradition is known in the north coast of the Moche, but has recently been added to the Late Intermediate achievements to show its fullest expression using gold, beach, and alloy, plus arsenical copper.  So many relics have been found so archaeologists have managed to reconstruct almost the entire process to the point of identifying their impressive and complicated techniques.

Chimú (1000 to 1460 AD)
The Chimú culture developed on the north coast around 1000 AD, just after the retreat of the Huari and before 1460, when the Incas arrived.  Recent research has provided new insights about Chimú tradition and ceramic style, as well as about a kingdom called Chimor which ultimately would be the supreme leader of the Chimú culture.  However it is important to clarify that the origin of Chimú and Chimor was not the same, even though they ended up being a political unit.  The Chimor, according to the texts, arose through a mythological founder who arrived by sea on a wooden raft, and brought together the political and religious powers.  Thus the kingdom of Chimor was developed through provinces governed by a local chief who profited from taxes and crops.

During their heyday, the Chimú reached to control about 20 valleys, from the Chillon (north of Lima) to Tumbes in the North just before the Inca conquest.  From 1300 AD they began expanding their territory which at one point covered more than 1000km and led to the need of creating administrative centres to exercise political and religious control.  This centre was the renowned city of Chan-Chan, known for its impressive scope and organisation.  Other important cities included the Túcume complexes (valley of the Milk), Pacatnamú (Rio Jequetepeque) and Farfan (Sierra de La Libertad).

Chiclayo 8th-9th July (Population around 592,500)

The “City of Friendship”, was founded by the Spanish missionaries in the 16th century and is 200km north of Lima.  Either by chance or through help from ‘above’ the crossroads city of Chiclayo has prospered ever since.  A bounty of important archaeology sites lies nearby.

I arrive late into Chiclayo (by bus) and was fortunate to be picked up and dropped off at a hotel by Moche Tours who will take me on an archaeological tour of the area in the morning.  The town and my hotel are full of university students on some sort of Summer School.  I was hardly in the room anyway so I wasn’t too concerned. 
Up early the next morning to meet my tour buddies for a day of visiting more ancient sites.  I will have a good handle of the Chimbú and Moche civilisations and the conquering Incas by the time I reach Cusco.
We meet our tour guide, a lovely young woman, Grace, who was an absolute delight and went to great pains to make sure I understood the mostly Spanish spoken tour. We begin at Sipán and after a drive through the countryside we arrive to a little oasis amongst dry sandy hills.

Sipán is the site of Huaca Rajada, a grave robbers-ridden set of pyramids virtually unknown before the late 1980’s.  After struggles with the community over control of the pyramids, archaeologists trained locals in excavation and research, and also employed some people to guard the site.  The most important person to be buried here was the Señor de Sipán, discovered in 1987, in an extravagant tomb including gold and silver decorated objects with stones and shells from the coast of Ecuador. The grave was uncovered by huaqueros (grave robbers).  When archaeologist Walter Alva realised the unusual influx of items on the black market, he headed up towards Chiclayo and eventually found the site.  He and his team later uncovered several pyramids (which happened to be more extravagant than the ones the huaqueros had found) and began excavating. In recent times hundreds of exquisite and priceless artefacts have been recovered from the black market.  At Sipán there is a replica of his burial site, but the most spectacular finds are in the Lambayeque museum. 

The weather is warming up and the sun is quite strong amongst the dusty ruins.  During our tour I have been chatting away with Sibonney, a Peruvian who speaks English very well.  She is with her mum (who doesn’t speak English) but is just as friendly.  We walk a short distance to visit the Museo.
Tomb Number 8

Inside Tomb Number 8 - note the pottery and other items for the after life

Soldiers are sacrificed so to protect their master in the next life

Tomb Number 7

Inside the tomb, note the Llama, obviously a pet and will go with its master to the next life

The most important find, Lord of Sipan

Inside his tomb, note the solider above him and in the left hand corner there is another skeleton to protect the grave.  His wife and mistresses were buried along with him.

Lord Sipan in his funeral finery

More tombs are being found

Me at the Lord of Sipan archaeological site
Museo de Sitio Huaca Rajada Sipán
This is a relatively new Museo just up the road from Sipán.  Here we watch an informative reproduction of life as it was during the building of Sipán pyramid.  Then we view artifacts, mummies, gods, jewellery and pottery of the Moche.  Another wonderful Museo.
Museo de Sitio Huaca Rajada Sipán, with Sibonney and her Mum walking towards the camera

Explaining the landscape around Sipan

Lord of Sipan with all the items from his tomb

Lord of Sipan

from Lord of Sipan's tomb

Moche God figure

Explaining burial clothing

How the soldiers looked when buried

Artifacts from the Tomb of Lord of Sipan
We all file back into the bus, everyone a little chattier and excited when we are told (at 1:30pm) we were heading to a Peruvian restaurant for lunch.  Around 2pm we arrive, starving and looking forward to a good lunch. I end up sitting with Sibonney, her mum, Vanessa (a German/Peruvian) and another young man whose job is to visit hotels, tourist operators etc and critique them, I want his job!! 
We are a merry little group, particularly when Sibonney’s mum orders beers for us all.  Lunch done, we board the bus and head to Túcume, about 30kms north of Lambayeque.

We arrive at Huacas Las Balsas and stroll through a working farm to arrive at the pyramid. The sun was low in the sky, a little cooler and the walk through the farm was just gorgeous.  Here we saw the carob tree, native to this area.  Túcume has 26 pyramids and formed the capital of the Sicán culture.  The ruins are a combination work between the Sicán and later the Chimú cultures with the base levels of buildings constructed by the Sicán and the top levels and outside walls added by the Chimú.  The area itself is very impressive in that it’s so vast and simply undiscovered.  These ruins are truly ruins, still being excavated.  In addition, much erosion has occurred as a result of rains from El Niño, hence the reason the area is not well preserved.  Discovered in 1989 by a Norwegian archaeologist, exploration of the temples began in 1991 but stopped after funding was cut.  They have recently restarted excavation of a different pyramid, which is thought to be the most important of the area.  Though there are 26 pyramids, the Huaca Larga tomb is the longest adobe structure in the world at over 700 metres long.  (Yet to become a tourist option).
Explaining the layout of Tucume

Where more tombs are being discovered

The working farm we walk through

with a donkey

with cattle

with pigs

A grove of Carob trees

The layout of Tucume tomb site

Explaining the construction

Some of the friezes

Explaining the ritual for sacrifices


The Tucume site

Explaining the friezes

the frieze from above

Explaining the tomb site of a woman

The woman's burial site, there is a child in the left-top hand corner
Again we head to the bus, back along the same road, driving past more canefields, farms and witnessing everyday life of farming Peruvians, really just delightful.  The bus now is getting a little rowdy as we are all more familiar with each other.  Our next stop is the world renowned Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán.

Museo Tumbas Reales de Sipán, Lambayeque
The pride of northern Peru and a world class facility showcasing the dazzling finds of the Royal Tombs of Sipán, including that of the Lord of Sipán himself.  One of the best set up museums in the region, this three story building explains in great detail the excavation and history of the Señor de Sipán and is set up to explain the discoveries in the order they occurred. This impressive museum is truly well organised, interesting and very informative.  Everything was written in Spanish only so Grace relayed to me in English when I couldn’t quite get the gist of the information.  Again you could easily spend a day, however night was falling and soon we were back in the bus to head back to Chiclayo.
(No belongings or photos were allowed in this Museum, sorry no photos)

On the way back we stop at the renowned original store (1920’s) for our supply of the Lambayeque speciality ‘King Kong’ a type of biscuit called alfajor filled with a sweetened condensed milk cooked down called manjarblanco and topped with candied pineapple and peanuts or dulce de leche.   Very, very sweet, just what Peruvians tend to love.  I carried the packet around for a while trying to share, however in the end I opened up the packet and munched on it when I needed a sugar boast. Another Peruvian delicacy to add to my growing list of anything Peruvian.