So here are a few random experiences and observations that didn’t make it from my notes into the body of my blog in a timely manner:
-- On the bus ride back from Chiclayo (museum day) we had on board entertainment in the form of a travelling magician. In what I suspect was an unauthorized stop the doors opened and in came a rather tall man carrying a boxy suitcase. He proceeded to put on a rather entertaining routine involving all manor of disappearing and reappearing items… glasses of water, a dove, a bunny, some money procured from a hapless passenger. After his show he told us about his family and asked for “donations”. Suitably compensated, he hopped off the bus as it “conveniently” stopped at the side of the road. I wonder if the bus driver got a cut? No matter really, it passed a bit of time on the seemingly endless ride.
-- In a bid to protect the various archaeological sites, they are actually often covered back up in various ways. The Chimu complex of Chan Chan has many of it’s adobe wall reliefs covered in thin identical panels. They are opened intermittently and the humidity and temperature of the original ruins is checked, then they are sealed up again ready for public display. In the Huaca del Sol y de la Luna, the intricate and coloured friezes are not only protected by a UV blocking glass enclosure but are also partially reburied to stop the erosion and destruction caused by their exposure to the elements.
-- Chan Chan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, composed of a nine large complexes, yet there is a swath that was ploughed under in order to build a road to the Airport, and the periphery is being encroached and destroyed for farmland. This type of conflict between ruins and “progress” is a problem in many areas in Peru (if not worldwide)…
-- The Moche culture practiced ritual human sacrifice. These were almost exclusively warriors / gladiators, who were compelled to fight, with the winner earning the honour of death in order for their blood to be used by the high Priest in a ritual to ask for the kindness of the Mountain God. The fall of this culture occurred when the people lost belief in this Mountain Diety when it did not protect them or their crops from the rains, drought and floods that are now recognised scientifically as the El Nino / La Nina weather phenomenon. The people adopted the Sun and Moon as Gods, which became the Chimu culture. Interestingly this occurred at a climate change time identified historically about 1100 AD. Fascinating no?
-- A problem that seems to be common among all the cities I have visited is the lack of maintenance of sidewalks. Pitted, crumbling, dangerous areas abound… and I find myself often watching my feet instead of taking in the sights around me. I have tripped and fallen three times in the past few weeks, but luckily have suffered only torn jeans and colourful bruises. Sigh.
-- I am intrigued by the use of ground penetrating radar to find tombs outside Chiclayo. What a great way to treasure hunt (for culture, not necessarily for riches), and it leads me to wonder if there are other areas where it has been used to identify future digs. Inquiring minds and all that. This information would no doubt be kept top secret so as to protect such sights from the grave robbers waiting in the wings.
-- The area off the Northern Peruvian coast has world class surfing opportunities (or so I am told), including the longest breaking waves in the world. This is interesting, however the waters are cold thanks to something called the Humboldt Current, which has water moving north from the waters off Chile, so I feel freezing just watching the young, wet suit clad units paddling out to practice and enjoy their sport. BRRRRR.
-- I still love Peruvian Hairless dogs. They are so ugly that they are actually beautiful. Black skinned, they have wisps or hair on their heads and at the end of their tails. Peru has actually given them a protected status, and there is pictorial evidence on excavated pottery etc. that they have been present throughout the many cultures of Peruvian history. Way cool.
-- In addition the many images painted on to pottery vases and vessels (fruit, corn, frog, monkey, waves, fish, pelicans, vultures, jaguar, snake, lizard, dogs, fox, and goats, to name a few) there are pieces made into intricate replicas of all manner of fruit and vegetables common to the cultures, including of course their warrior and other Gods. The Moche culture has established a reputation for the intricate, graphic and ecstatic, sexual representations in many of their sculptures. In addition to oversized erect penises, (illustrated in what today would be x-rated and/or pornographic) are sexual acts of the oral, anal, homosexual and heterosexual kinds. Blush worthy.
-- There are both permanent and random road checkpoints throughout Peru. Evidence of the governments attempt to keep a lid on any possible smuggling, political unrest, and in certain areas of the country to fight the scattered remnants of the guerrilla factions that so terrified the country in the 80’s. It is mandatory that official ID be carried at all times, although I have only been asked to show it at a couple of checkpoints so far. All of the bus trips I have taken were interrupted at least once to pass through such checkpoints.
I still am about 4 travel adventure experiences behind in the telling. So at the moment there is no real time reporting. Will do my best to catch up in the next day or so. Trekking dependent of course.