Moche tombs and desert roads

I had a fairly restless night and woke up early. Eefje and Israel had told me about the Moche ruins and museums for which Chiclayo is famous and, having actually read about them after they gave me the information, I decided to visit the Museo de Tumbas Reales de Sipan. This contained tombs of El Senor di Sipan (Lord of Sipan) and various important members of the Moche community, who lived between 300 and 700 BC. When discovered, these tombs were considered almost as important as that of Tutankhamen. Thankfully, they told me about them and made me realise that I should read a guide book occasionally!

I walked to the ‘collectivo’ garage, which took a little finding, and then had to wait a while for them to get more passengers. I was dropped off in the centre of Lambayeque and was pointed in the right direction for the museum. There are, in fact, two museums in Lambayeque, the other being the Bruning, but I only visited the Tumbas Reales.

First of all though, having not had any breakfast, I had a quick look in the market for juice but decided against having one after I saw them rinsing the glasses with water from the tap. (A bus journey and upset stomach are not a good combination.) I settled for juice in a carton and an empanada from a small cafe instead. The market was very busy and, again, comprised a lot of very narrow alleyways. Once again, I was the only tourist around and so was very wary and didn’t linger (not that I am a nervous traveller or anything….!). There were also a lot of security guards around, which didn’t reassure me.

Tumbas Reales Museum in Lambayeque
Tumbas Reales Museum in Lambayeque

Inside the museum, which was a stark contrast to the town outside, I attempted to read the Spanish signs and appreciated the occasional, seemingly random, English ones. The displays contained a lot of the gold, silver, copper, shell and turquoise treasures and artefacts that were found in the tombs, as well as reconstructions of the tombs themselves, complete with skeletons. It was extremely well presented and ended with a very realistic, animated tableau of the Moches. I was very glad to have visited it before I left for Trujillo.

Traffic outside the market in Lambayeque
Traffic outside the market in Lambayeque

For my return to Chiclayo, I had to go back to the main highway and look for a ‘collectivo’ going in the direction of the city. The most difficult part of this was crossing the road! There are always conductors calling the destinations of the buses/collectivos (which are like mini vans) so I very quickly found one. However, having specifically asked if it was going to the centre, the terminal for this particular collectivo was nowhere I recognised, nor did I have any idea where in the city I was. When I asked, the conductor pointed to the road to the right and basically said it was down there. Unfortunately my Google maps, a standby in desperation, didn’t work as I was off line.

Already feeling somewhat overwhelmed, I walked down the road that he indicated and eventually spotted a very large billboard for WhatsApp that I hoped was the one near the collectivo garage. Luckily it was, which was something of a relief. I stopped at the supermarket and stocked up on water and some lovely ciabatta rolls. I had still got the avocado and some sort of vegetable pastry thing I had bought at the bakery yesterday so was well supplied for eventualities. As it turned out, it was just as well I was.

I was already dreading having to find a taxi and negotiate with them to get to the bus station. However, whilst I was packing up, I heard Israel and Eefje in their room and, as I knew they were also heading to Trujillo, I asked if I could share a taxi with them. Unfortunately, they weren’t ready for another half an hour but the hotel called a taxi, Israel did the negotiating and we arrived at the terminal about 2.30pm, only to find that the next available seats weren’t until 4pm. Even though the buses left every half hour, they were all full. This meant that, as the journey was four hours long, we wouldn’t arrive until well after dark, something I normally try to avoid like the plague. The other two were going onto the beach at Huanchaco, so I wouldn’t be able to share a taxi.

Desert on the way to Trujillo
Desert on the way to Trujillo

The route took us through yet more dry, flat and dusty landscape with occasional areas where there must have been some form of irrigation as sugar cane and rice were being cultivated. There were also the occasional hills. We had the front seats on a double decker bus, which, whilst providing us with an excellent view, meant that we couldn’t stretch our legs so, by the end, I was getting decidedly fidgety. I had had a headache all day, which drugs wouldn’t remove, and managed to doze for a while, but the journey seemed extremely slow. There was a lot of traffic on the road and we stopped at many small towns along the way.

Eventually we arrived, Israel and Eefje said goodbye (I am sure they were quite thankful to be on their own again) and I took a mini van/taxi that was in the bus terminal and operated by the bus company (Emtrafesa). I’m sure I paid far too much but it is all relative (it was only a couple of dollars anyway) and it was safe. The hostel looked all closed up when I rang the bell and the driver waited until somebody opened the door, which I really appreciated. The lady did not appear to be expecting me but eventually found my booking. She was very kind and helpful and gave me a bit of tourist information, which I struggled to take in, being extremely tired by that stage and the conversation being all in Spanish. After the formalities, I was shown my room, which is another internal one with a window into a void. It also appeared to be a temporary construction in a hallway. She didn’t have any with exterior windows and seemed a bit puzzled by my request. The room is very basic and I am sharing a bathroom but there did not seem to be any other rooms, apart from one, that were occupied.

I had a shower, ate my delicious ciabatta with the, now squashed, avocado and went to sleep!

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