Adobe ruins, reed boats and bus rides

I had a virtually total sleepless night, which I attributed to spending too much time, late at night, on the ipad. I eventually dozed off after 5am, having spent the hours listening to very loud disco music and people coming in late. I was awake again at 7am and lay in bed for a while before going for a shower. There was no water. Not happy, I went down and told the lady, who was sort of doing the breakfasts, and got a garbled explanation, which I thought meant it will be back on in 10 minutes. It wasn’t, so I went down to breakfast where there were one or two other people who were wanting showers and were also a little unhappy.

Then, there was apparently no more bread. This was not turning into a good day! As the breakfast, included in the price, was only bread and jam (and eggs if you wanted to cook them yourself) this was a bit much. I had one roll and then a left over crust before a few more rolls magically appeared. The owner of the house also eventually materialised and said there was water but the taps needed to be turned on. Really?

We stayed chatting at the breakfast table for a while and eventually heard the sound of running water. Someone optimistically went to try the shower, but no luck. However, when I tried a little while later, lo and behold there was hot running water. Thank goodness, as I needed it to make me feel normal after the sleepless night!

Chan Chan archaeological site
Chan Chan archaeological site

My agenda for today was the Chan Chan ruins. I took a bus from the corner of the street and off we went. The bus was being driven by a 12 year old wannabe cowboy and the conductor had a very piercing whistle (not physical instrument but his mouth) that he used to drum up custom along the way, in addition to the usual shouting. We raced along and I was dropped off at the entrance to the ruins, which were about 2 kms walk away along a dusty track, in the sun. Luckily there was a reasonable breeze as otherwise the walk might have been quite unbearable.

A couple of girls were walking ahead of me and we were stopped by a man, purporting to be a guide, who suggested taking us between the 4 sites (for there were 4) for a certain price. As he spoke Spanish it would have been useless to me, but I also wasn’t sure about him and the other girls weren’t interested at all. So that solved that!

Restoration in progress at Chan Chan
Restoration in progress at Chan Chan
Symbols on a frieze at Chan Chan
Symbols on a frieze at Chan Chan

A UNESCO site, the ruins are the remains of the largest Pre-Columbian adobe city in the world and were built by the Chimu from approximately 850 BC. Sadly, they have been eroded by the weather and, in particular, El Nino. However, they are in the process of being restored and the palace is one of the sites where there are many people working on reconstructing the palace walls and friezes. It was difficult to tell which areas were what as, whilst there were a few information boards in English, they were insufficient and the guide book was in Spanish. However, it might have been helpful if I had had it to give some meaning to the construction. The most fascinating part was the extent of the city, which in its heyday, housed 60,000 people. Sadly, much of it at the moment, anyway, apart from the Palace, just looks like a pile of rocks.

Restoration workers at Chan Chan
Restoration workers at Chan Chan

After walking around, I went back to the road and headed for the Museum. I had forgotten that all museums are closed on Mondays! A very helpful man supplied me with the information and told me where to catch the bus to Huanchaco, the fishing town where the fishermen use a very strange looking reed vessel. Before the bus came, a ‘collectivo’ approached, as usual, touting for customers, so I took that. It was already reasonably full but we still managed to add a few more passengers. At one point, I counted 17 adults, 1 child, the driver and conductor in the minivan. Not bad for a vehicle with 9 seats!

I got off before the end of the route and strolled along the beach front, where I spotted an agency for the bus companies. As they were busy, I decided to come back later to find out about the bus tickets to Huaraz. The only ones I could find on the internet were night buses and I really wanted to travel by day.

Fisherman at Huanchaco
Fisherman at Huanchaco

The beach was a little disappointing (for I am a spoilt New Zealander) with some black sand and some rubbish. The fishing boats were all lined up along the promenade wall with some out at sea bobbing in the waves. I paid my 50 centivos and walked out on the jetty and watched the men line fishing at the end. They seemed to be catching some very small fish, which would definitely not have met standards in N.Z.!

Afterwards, I walked further along the sea front, until the pavement was covered in sand and there were sandbags all along the edge. They obviously have some wild weather here! Souvenir stalls were interspersed with the fishing boats as were piles of reeds, which must either have been for repairs or building new boats.

Fishermen mending their nets at Huanchaco
Fishermen mending their nets at Huanchaco
Beach at Huanchaco
Beach at Huanchaco

There were many restaurants lining the waterfront as well and I was starving but didn’t have enough money on me to buy lunch if I was going to purchase a bus ticket. The latter seemed more prudent as it was going to be far more problematic buying one in Trujillo if I didn’t buy one now. I walked back to the agency and discovered that there were no day buses and I would have to travel by night. At least the bus had seats that reclined into beds.

I caught the bus back to Trujillo but didn’t recognise anywhere so went past my stop. Once this had occurred, I decided I might as well stay on the bus and see where I ended up. As it only cost 1.30 soles, I could always buy another ticket to return. Luckily, it did a circular route so, once we had visited the suburbs and driven through an absolutely vast market selling everything under the sun, we came back towards the central city. By this stage, I had my phone in hand and was tracking us on Google maps so I knew when to get off. (I wouldn’t have recognised it otherwise and could have gone back to Huanchaco!)

Finally back in my room, I collected some more money and set off to find lunch. As it was now 4.00pm, the chances of finding a place that was still offering ‘almuerzo’ were slim as they tend to stop at 3pm. However, I was in luck as the restaurant I went to yesterday was still open. Also, as it happened, Israel and Eefje were just finishing theirs so I sat with them and chatted whilst I ate. After they had gone, I enjoyed a coffee and then went for a short stroll through the market place and the plaza, a quick look in the Cathedral, which just happened to be open, and then back along some parallel streets to the ones I had been using. I chanced upon a bit of excitement just around the corner from ‘home’ where there were 3 security guards with pistols drawn outside a bank. Obviously, there had been some happening but whatever it was had been resolved before I arrived. It would have been nice if they had holstered their guns though!

I was feeling extremely full from my late lunch, which comprised a large bowl of bean soup, followed by a very tender beef steak of some variety served with chips, rice and plantains (nothing like a few carbs!) and fruit salad. Even though I didn’t eat the rice or chips, it was extremely filling and I didn’t require anything to eat for the rest of the evening, which was spent in my room, booking Huaraz, doing my diary and reading.

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