Thursday, March 26, 2009

¿Beheadings: better than praying?

Saturday the 21st.

After bad chicken sandwich (too much mayo) I met my guide Henry (En-RR-IE) at 9am. Nice short guy, descendent of the Moche culture which we were going to investigate this day. It was cheap to have him as a guide, and he rode with me explaining the history of the region and the lore of the peoples. Good thing I had him or I never would have found the Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna (temples of the sun and the moon). No sign and dirt road to get to them. A huaca is a place of archeological significance; a structure or pyramid.

Huaca del Sol is a giant structure looted by the Spanish and inaccessible. Huaca de la Luna is where it´s at. 1500 years ago the Moche culture built a fortress here. Everytime there was a new king, a new fortress was built around the old one (every 80-100 years). There are 4 layers of fortresses here, the oldest being the best preserved! They were into repeating patterns across all the walls. Faces of differing emotional expressions, dancing people, sea creatures, stars, etc. See the photo of the wall with lots of icons in my post: The Moche Valley. The paint is still on these things making them scary. Red, black, yellow.

There was a black rock here that was sacred. Below it was a courtyard where people were ritually beheaded so there would be great harvests. Henry told it like this: The Moche civilization came to an end and the Chimu culture started up 100 years later. They were the same people but what separated them was some sort of natural disaster. Uh, yeah.

So we went over to Huaca Esmeralda, a Chimu temple with neat carvings of a rainbow monster biting a guys head off (see the photo of me scratching my head in The Moche Valley post). It was a symbol that in order to serve the harvest rains (rainbow)....PEOPLE GOTTA DIE! The adobe friezes had fish, seabirds and waves in the carvings. How I understood how human sacrifices were chosen was they go fight in the desert and the guy who gets his hat knocked off gets a rope around his neck, is stripped naked and let through a procession of cheering and dancing people then beheaded by a high priest.

We dropped in the Chan Chan museum which had life sized figures of Chimu kings in full garb.

On to center of the Chimu culture: Chan Chan. Built in 1300AD and spanning 28sq kilometers with 9 royal compounds (everytime a king died, his wife and servants were all killed, buried around him and the whole palace abandoned. A new palace was built for the new king). This place was conquered by the Incas but later looted by the damn Spanish and all but washed away by El Nino floods. What´s left is a Big Whup on my part, but I´m okay with the restorations that were done so we have some idea of what was up. Some government officails pocketed the $ that was supposed to go to restoring other areas of the Chan Chan complex but are now just off limits to touristicos. The ceremonial courtyard is the most iconic, although surrounded with a drole repeating pattern of a sea otter (or squirrel says Henry).

Then onto the beach town of Huanchaco. Henry scored me a good hotel near the beach. Then we went to have cebiche (raw fish dish in lemon) at a tourist bus restaurant. There was a famous soccer star there and Henry had his photo taken with him. I paid for the lunch as a tip.

Then back to Trujillo where I did net stuff, picked up laundry then drove out to Huanchaco. Walked around a bit on the beach, bought suiveniers, and laid down at 8:30p for a nap before going out for a drink later. I woke up at 7:30am. OOPS!

1 comment:

  1. It's ceviche, sir, and the acid in the juice "cooks" the fish, so it's not raw like sashimi.

    By soccer I assume you mean football. Go Liverpool FC!