An excellent a la carte breakfast later (only most options contained egg), we are introduced to Carmen, our guide for the day. First stop is Huaca de la Luna - one of a three section site, of which this is the only one open.
Another museum whose exhibits do not disappoint - my favourites are a Moche drinking vessel shaped like a seal's head that has a fish between its teeth and a carved wooden set of figures, inlaid with shell, representing a funeral procession with musicians, dignitaries, and the funery bundle carried on poles - in my mind's eye I could see an expensive chess set in the museum shop ... but alas. No photographs are allowed sadly.
Carmen was a member of the archeological team excavating here in the early 90s. She keeps in contact with them for seminars, lectures, etc and keeps the knowledge up to date. Since switching into tourism she has learned English, German and Italian and the rate at which both her phones ring suggest she is much in demand as a guide. In between fielding calls, educating us and organising the next itinerary event she finds time to try to check us in on-line and calls the airline when this fails to determine that we are confirmed on the flight, but that these are not on-line check-in-able tickets. Unstoppable!
Lunch is at a tourist restaurant which sounds far worse than it is - remember most tourists are Peruvian. There is a large dance floor in the restaurant and we are seated front and enter at the only table with a red tablecloth. Carmel 'encourages' the manager to put the dance show on (he never really stood a chance) and it is much, much better than we had dared hope - a handsome couple in bare feet and traditional dress perform a couple of Latin American dances of substantial complexity to growing applause, before pausing for photos with patrons, one of whom looks unnervingly like Immelda Marcos. While I'm sure she's dead, South America was the favoured destination for ex-dictators on the lam, so could it be?
Slipping away while Immelda gurns at the camera, we travel the 15 minutes to Chan Chan, simultaneously the largest and most unexcavated site in South America.
Chan Chan was continuously occupied for over 900 years and unusually, each time a ruler died, their complex was abandoned and the court moved to that of the new rulers'. When a prince was born, the building of the next, new complex started. Efficient succession planning indeed.
The scale of the excavated 2% of the site is enormous. The Peruvian government and the Japanese firm that sponsors the archeological effort at Chan Chan received a report in the mid 90s that was several hundred pages long, detailing the work required to excavate, catalogue, conserve and display all that was anticipated to be found at that time. One hundred and thirty two years was the high level plan's duration! The Japanese firm felt that in light of this they would review their sponsorship every 5 years, adding still more time to the initial estimate.
Our early finish at Chan Chan - there's a very small museum which has little to display since the site was looted way back after the site had been abandoned due to a super El Niño event. These happen every hundred years or so and cause upto 3 months of continuous rain that would have destroyed crops, demolished houses and infrastructure and caused the sea temperature to rise by as much as 15 degrees C, killing or driving away all marine life. This event lead to the overthrow of the last ruler and the installing of a military leader, but this did not abate El Niño and the Moshe period ended and there was a hundred years of silence before the Chimu arose.
As I was saying before I side-tracked myself, our early finish at Chan Chan gave us 3 plus hours to kill before our ride to the bus station and the overnight to Lima and onwards to Santiago, Chile. So we returned to Plaza del Armas to sit in the sun and think about life. Alfie, at 6 foot tall, towers over most Peruvians and was clearly catching a few eyes - 2 pairs of girls came up and asked for a photo while a mixed group of 3 sat on the stone bench opposite ours and filmed us blatantly, while trying (and failing) to muster the courage to come over and strike up a conversation.
Finally the cafe from last night opened its doors, so we returned for coffee, hot chocolate and chocolate cakes, then back to the hotel to re-pack and read until the appointed transit hour.
A fond farewell to Hegel, our bus driver at the Civa bus terminal on the edge of Trujillo, leaves us with a wait and a warning ringing in our ears. The station where the bus is scheduled to terminate in Lima is a long way from the airport which will mean a scramble to make the Santiago flight at 08.40. Alfie turns on the 'young gringo far from home' charm and begs a stop at the northern bus terminal operated by the same firm which we would pass on our way through Lima. The ticketing girl talks to her administrator, who talks to the driver. Word comes down that, yes, this is possible, but not guaranteed. We are advised to check out baggage in last, so it's accessible should we make an unscheduled stop at Plaza Norte. We hand our bags to the pilot (as they are termed) himself and Alfie shakes his hand and thanks him for st least considering our plea.
I awake at 05.15 after my first experience of 180 degree, flat-bed coach travel, which is rather great. Bah, humbug to the nay-saying tripadvisor-istas who claim they'd rather crawl over broken glass than use this firm again.
Double bah, humbug as the coach is piloted off the main artery into Lima to pause at Plaza Norte! Let joy be uncontained! And let our feet be fleet. It's 06.30 already, and we need to get a wiggle on.
A prowling taxi-driver with an eye for the main chance, and a panicked gringo, offers us the chance to ride to the airport for only 40 soles, double the expected rate, but I'm not quibbling over a fiver. Sensing a rising frisson over the desultory conversation he gouges us for a further 5 soles for the airport parking ticket. I fairly fling the coinage at him as we flee inside the terminal.
Time is ticking on past 07.10 as we scoot up to check in. Alfie manages a humungous queue jump at boarding pass inspection, but cannot repeat the trick at security. After security its immigration where the small pieces of paper we have guarded with our lives are retrieved, reviewed, stamped and probably binned.
A quick dash through duty free (no time for pisco) and a yomp past gates 17 to 32 gets us finally to Gate 33 at 07.50 in time for the shuttle bus. Our heart rates subside as we stand, crammed on the bus to take us to our plane, which takes-off at 09.15 from a 08.40 ticketed slot.
Oh, the pleasures of modern travel. But we are here, ready and waiting for Chile! Yay!
Chile rhymes with Yay, FYI.