Our Cruz del Sur Cruzero service bus north took us through Lima and the extensive suburbs that certainly reflected the other side of the city - poor slum areas where locals were scratching a living (and possibly many were not even managing that). It took well over an hour before we were well clear of the city, heading through the barren desert landscape and along the dramatic cliff top road. The scenery was stunning in parts and every so often we emerged from the desert into lush green and fertile valleys. The desert extends right to the Pacific Ocean (on our left) and at some points it seems to be swallowing the main road - sand flew up from the tyres of vehicles as they drove north and south. We pulled into Trujillo after dark and were soon in our accommodation, Hostal Malibu, for the next 3 nights.
Next morning we set out to get our bus tickets to Piura, from where we would travel to Colan. We should explain that like some other remoter areas of countries we'd travelled through, bus tickets have to be bought direct from the bus company that runs the service and cannot be purchased from travel agencies. So this involves finding out which buses run where and then locating their office which, incidentally, is usually not the same place the bus leaves from (yes - there's not one single bus station which all buses use). However, we managed to find Linea and got 2 tickets to Piura. After that we set out to explore the town but, as expected, we were to be disappointed because Saturday is usually quiet and particularly after Christmas most places of interest were closed. We had to satisfy ourselves with a look into the Cathedral, which is simpler than most Peruvian churches, and with admiring some of the well preserved colonial buildings from the outside.
This area is famous for its ancient archaeological sites which are dotted along the plain. One of the most famous is Chan Chan which is the remains of the vast 25 sq km historical capital city of the Moche people and dates from around 100 AD to 1400 AD when they were conquered by the Incas. There are also many Huacas (sacred temples) dotted all over the area, two of the most renowned being the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna. We therefore took a tour of the main sites and Huaca de la Luna was remarkable in that, for a structure built of clay and being 2000 years old, there were many original colours and relief work still evident as layers of buildings were uncovered. So far the site has revealed 7 levels but it is expected many more remain hidden below. Scores of (sacrified) mummies have been discovered along with the inevitable riches although most were plundered by the invading Spanish. Chan Chan was certainly impressive in the vast size of the site and how it too has remained as intact as it has - the 'city' was home to approximately 300,000 people in pre Inca days. However, it is hard to grasp its actual scale and how much is original or restored because everything is seen from ground level. Excavations are still going on and it is not clear what plans are to open up more of the site or for restoration.
Our final visit was to Huaca Arco Idris which is within Trujillo. Until only a few years ago this was standing out in the desert but is now surrounded by houses. It contained further ancient carvings some of which with the original yellow colour. We were glad we came to Trujillo (Elliott and Anna recommended it) and pleased we had been able to see such interesting historical sites. So much we have seen in Peru highlights how different races across the world were very similar in how they lived their lives and we can better imagine that there must have been more contact between the Americas and Asia before Columbus set foot on this land.
Before catching the bus we were pleased that we had time to visit some of the fine Spanish colonial mansions around the town centre (that had been closed over the weekend). They were certainly worth a visit and some are in the safe hands of banks and one is now the home of the Central Club which probably ensures their future.
Interestingly, the main square was closed off to traffic that day and the area was buzzing with troops with guns.We didn't know what was going on but it seemed to be a normal event as Trujillons went about their business as normal - it was probably just a bit of Peruvian pomp!