Marg and Leigh's travels around the world

We are two retired women from New Zealand, busy travelling the world. Our quest is to experience other cultures before they are changed beyond recognition, and see endangered animals and environments before they disappear. We hope you like our blog and enjoy our exploits. We sure have had fun getting here.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Trujillo (Peru)

We flew from Iquitos and the Amazon jungle to Lima, and on the same day from Lima to Trujillo, still in Peru, but up north and on the Pacific coast.

On landing in Lima we had to wait quite a few hours until we boarded our plane to Trujillo, but we had decided that it was easier to fly, than to take another 8 hour bus ride (although flying is about twice the price of the bus).

Trujillo ornate Spanish influenced windows
Arriving at Trujillo airport we caught a taxi to our accommodation, Hotel Saint Germain in the historic city centre. The Hotel is a family run business and while we found the room to be a little ‘tired’, the family were lovely friendly people.

Trujillo, is the third largest city in Peru. It has an historic centre constructed mainly by the Spanish. The Spanish influence is obvious in the beautiful buildings with their lattice windows and doors.

Trujillo Plaza buildings
We discovered the lovely Plaza de Armas, which has a lot of interesting colonial buildings around its edge.

Nearby, there were lots of narrow streets and pedestrian walkways with cute shops and restaurants.

We were in one wee restaurant that was full of locals at dinnertime. It offered simple but yummy food, prepared by an enthusiastic group of chatty women in the kitchen.  

Trujillo pedestrian street
We enjoyed watching the locals there, and they were probably just as interested in us, the only 'gringos' in the place.

We came to Trujillo on the recommendation of friends Jenny and Jools who lauded the pre-Columbian archaeological site of Chan Chan, located just outside Trujillo city.

We had arrange to spend only two nights in Trujillo and obviously Chan Chan was our priority.

Being short of time, we purchased seats on an organised tour. Other members of the tour group were Spanish speaking except for us and another woman from Norway. As the tour agency had arranged an English speaking guide, we ended up having him pretty-well all to ourselves.

Chan Chan part of outer wall
He was very informative but had the most unpleasant habit of poking one on the arm to gain attention, or emphasize points.

Marg told him firmly that she didn't like it and fortunately he got the message and stopped.

But Chan Chan is amazing. It’s an enormous adobe complex of royal palaces from the pre-Inca empire – older than Machu Picchu.

Chan Chan intricate room decoration
It is a huge site covering 20 square kilometres and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is an amazing place, not only because of its large scale, but also because the intricacy of its structure and the detail of its decorations, are still visible after all these years.

We found the on-site museum to be absolutely fascinating with descriptions in English as well as Spanish.

Huaca del Sol pyramid
Our tickets also took us to see other archaeological sites in the area. One was Huaca del Arco Iris – the Dragon Temple. Built around 1100 years ago, it had some beautiful intact carvings.

A larger site was Huaca del Sol - the Temple of the Sun. This is an adobe brick temple built in a pyramid shape by the Moche peoples in around AD 450 (about 1000 years before the better-known Aztecs and Incas).

It is estimated that 130 million adobe bricks were used to build the temple.

Huaca de la Luna interconnecting rooms
We also visited stunning Huaca de la Luna, Temple of the Moon.

This was built around the same time as Huaca del Sol as a ceremonial place.

What is left is an amazingly preserved series of interconnecting rooms, many showing the original painted friezes.

They were all incredible and we came away absolutely amazed at the skills and sophistication of these ancient people, to build such massive and intricate structures.

Huaca de la Luna frieze
While we were visiting the Huaca de la Luna, a bunch of school children standing behind us, seemed fascinated with Leigh’s blonde hair and gave it a little tug.

We turned around and giggled with them and we all spoke together in mixed English and Spanish. It was a lovely moment.

Our organized tour included lunch at a local restaurant with traditional dancing. It was all a bit touristy but interesting.

The last part of our trip was a visit to Huanchaco beach.

The beach is famous for its seafood and surf as well as its ancient hand-made boats, caballitos del mar. The boats are made of bound totara reeds which are the same reeds used for the floating islands on Lake Titicaca at the southern end of Peru.   
Our web searching led us to believe that we would see fishermen still using these boats. Sadly this was not the case - while they were propped up on the beach they seemed to be there only for tourists to ride in or take photos! Any fishermen we saw on the coast were using more modern boats so time has moved on here.

Time for us to move on, and we caught a bus out of Trujillo heading to the border into Ecuador.

We decided to take an overnight (18 hours) bus because the cost of flying across the border is hugely expensive.

We booked VIP seats with Cruz del Sur bus line the day before we needed to leave. These seats were on the bottom tier of a double-decker bus and had big wide soft seats that reclined so that we could sleep.

The only downside was that the bus didn't leave until midnight. However, our lovely hotel owners let us stay in their lobby and use their wifi, toilets etc until we left.

We were really tired when we finally got under way and initially had some difficulty getting used to the bus motion in the dark with curtains drawn. Eventually we slept until served a basic breakfast just before the border.

When we arrived at the border, the whole busload emptied, lined up, and trooped through Peruvian customs. We then walked to the other side of the room where we again lined up, but this time at Ecuador customs.

Allowed into Ecuador officially now, we were back on the bus and headed to our next stop, Guayaquil.

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