Chicos en ChiclayoFebruary 17 in Peru
From Huanchaco, we arranged for a taxi to take us to Chiclayo, about three hours north of the coastal town, along with our friends, Dave and Terrie, who we have affectionately nicknamed “Team Canada”. Team Canada have joined us on our amazing race across Peru. But the amazing race almost came to a halt an hour before we were ready to leave Huanchaco, when we received a message from our driver saying that his car would not make the journey but that he had sourced other transport at a much higher cost. Team Australia and Team Canada went into crisis recovery mode and went in search of alternative transport. After some negotiations between the teams, we settled on a car that would actually make the 100 kilometre journey.
We arrived in Chiclayo in the late afternoon, before the sunset, giving us and Team Canada time to explore the centre of Chiclayo, around the Plaza de Armas. During the evening we were awoken by the roar of a wild animal. At first, we thought Team Canada had brought with them a hibernating brown bear with sinus problems. Coming from the land down-under, we've never dealt with a bear before, other than the gay, hairy type found in most pubs and clubs, so we stayed still and pretended to be dead. Turns out the brown bear's name is Dave.
Chiclayo is the fourth largest city in Peru with a population of around 750,000 and with almost as many ancient ruins, much to Jason's displeasure. With so many sites surrounding the city, we went in search of available tours, along with Team Canada. We were recommended a particular tour company but, when we arrived, we found the shop closed. But at that very moment, a mini-van pulled up directly in front of it. Terrie noticed a guy from England, who we had met in Huanchaco, named Kev in the mini-van. We found out that he was taking a tour of Sicán, Túcume and Lambayeque. We also knew that we couldn't delay our tour because all of the museums would be closed the next day. Before the lights went green, we had agreed to join the tour and took off in the mini-van.
The first stop was the Sicán National Museum. Sicán is the name attributed to a culture that lived in the Lambayeque region between 750 CE and 1375 CE. Debates amongst archaeologists continue as to whether Sicán culture is separate to or part of Moche culture, which preceded this period. The next part of the tour continued onto Túcume, where 26 pyramids and mounds surround La Raya Mountain. Apparently the area, nicknamed purgatory by the locals, are still frequented by local sharman healers. Some of the items used in their rituals, such as “voodoo dolls”, can be seen in the on-site museum.
The final stop, after a quick bit to eat, was the Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sípan. The story of the discovery of the royal tombs in Sípan in 1987 is almost as interesting as the contents of the tombs. Apparently the archaeological discovery only became known after tomb robbers had a disagreement and informed the police, who in turn notified a prominent archaeologist who had been working in the area. Locals supposedly didn't appreciate the work of the archaeologists and tried to scare them off by propelling objects at them in the hope that they would go away and then they could continue the pillaging that had began earlier.
The Royal Tomb of the Lord of Sípan is considered by some archaeologists as one of the most important discoveries in South America in recent times, due to the fact that the main tomb was untouched by the tomb robbers. The body of Lord Sípan was found inside the tomb along with numerous funerary items. According to archaeologists, the Lord of Sípan was 1.63 cm tall and about 35–45 years old when he died. Apparently the royals of Sípan practised incest and the lord was found to have had deformities of the feet. Buried alongside the Lord of Sipán were six other people and a dog. One of the males, identified as a warrior, in the tomb had his feet amputated, presumably to prevent him from leaving the tomb. In total, there have been fourteen royal tombs discovered.
The next day, along with Team Canada, we headed to the Mercado Modelo, a large market on the north side of the city. Within the mercado, there is section called the Mercado de Brujo, the Witch Doctor's market, where all kinds of potions and antidotes can be purchased. One of the main ingredients used by many of the ancient cultures in Peru is San Pedro's cactus, which is psychoactive and when consumed causes hallucinations. San Pedro's cactus was given to the “victims” before they were sacrificed to the gods. Its seems that there is still a demand for San Pedro's cactus if the Mercado de Brujo is anything to go by. Fortunately we all made it out of the market without being drugged and taken hostage as a sacrifice, and we could continue on with our journey to the north of Peru.
Next stop: Piura.
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