Shamans n Bees

Trip Start Jan 08, 2007
Trip End Oct 01, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Ambling around Chiclayo´s king-size Mercado Modelo other than the normal market wares I stumbled across the herbalist and Brujo or witchdoctor stalls located in the southwest corner selling all manner of bones, herbs, potions, charms and hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus. Ensuing a chat with a friendly bruja, I decided to purchase a voodoo doll thingy and a small glass vial filled with special herbs, and other oddities for a bit of extra luck and whereupon the shaman offered to perform a ritual on me. Agreeing I was ushered behind her stall where all the medicinal herbs were stored and taken behind a curtain. She positioned me standing up, arms in front with my palms open and pointing towards the sky then proceeded to pass the doll over my body starting with my arms, then body and finally legs before placing it in my left hand. The second part of my ritual required me closing my eyes while she spat scented water  from a green bottle over my face, lifted my t-shirt to spit on my front, back, back of my head, arms and lastly my outstretched palms and the doll.All this was more than enough to get me to smile at the very least and so smelling like a perfume factory I showed some appreciation and continued on my merry way round the market gabbing with the other Shamans to learn more of their dark secrets. This was by far the most wholesome section of the market, hassle was a minimum except for the occasional offer of San Pedro juice and many of the were occupied with hanging balloons and bunches of grapes overhead for the afternoons fiesta in celebration of the mercado´s fifteenth year.
I had a quick investigation of the other sections, tasted some dried catfish, bought some tasty local choccy in the form of hard dark balls containing a lot of granulated sugar in before making my exit through the brujos area. Before escaping into the light, a male Shaman who I asked what all the sulfur was for [when rubbed on arms n neck it helps with pain apparently] offered me some black market trinkets stolen from the archaeological site of Sipan. He had a clay monkey head, rattle and a bone whistle among other random items, all of which I declined gracefully and went in search of sustenance.
A short bus journey out of Chiclayo is the Sipán archaeological site discovered in 1987 after an influx of beautiful artefact's on the black market were spotted by local archaeologist Dr Alva. These earthen hills turned out to be both pyramids and a royal burial site. After checking out the dig reconstructed with replicas (although I think some of the Skelly's may have been real) the next step was to climb the hill (actually a crumbling pyramid) to get an aerial view of the area.
So after picking what I thought to be the easiest and best route I started up only to minutes later fly back down in a cloud of some what angry bees. I´m almost beginning to think I must have done something terrible in a past life to deserve such bad luck when a plague of angry bees appears out of nowhere. I´m pretty sure I didn´t desturb the nest, in fact I never even saw it. Anyway lessons for the day were 1.bees can fly a lot faster than I can run and 2.South Americans are aways willing to come to my rescue!
After dousing myself in water kindly left in the road for me(nearly losing camera in the process- what am I like) and passing a few of the swarm off onto the locals(who were less than impressed)I escaped to the safety of some random blokes hut. With a smile on my face as usual when you can´t do anything else but laugh all I could think was "F**king waste of time that Shaman was"! Ha.
Assessing the damage which, turned out pretty minimal considering the black, buzzing cloud spinning round my head moments earlier I started picking out the 50 or so stings left in my shirt... The problem with bees is when they get pissed off enough to attack they actually commit suicide on stinging you and in that instant release a pheromone advertising to the rest of the hive exactly where the intruder is and hence the direction more soldiers need to be sent. So the few random stragglers hungry for a piece of the action forced a hasty retreat on the next bus back to town where I could lick my wounds from the war, I was never going to have won without a can of RAID in my back pocket.
Slightly vexed at not being allowed to continue onwards at the site (The pic on the ticket looks good so I can almost imagine it) and not to be beaten I went straight to the safe Museo Tumbas Reales De Sipán in Lambayeque. For once the guide didn´t lie and this really is a world class facility. I was thoroughly impressed by the wealth of artefact's Dr Alva salvaged by the amazingly beautifully crafted objects he discovered and the layout of the museum mimicking the order they were removed from the tombs. The main tombs of the Lord Sipán and priests had both soldiers buried to guard the occupants, animals such as llamas and dogs, women, children and offerings of food as well as numerous jugs, shells, jewelery and clothes placed both above and below the corpse in layers.
The jugs depicted the various stages of life all the way from birth to adult hood and finally death and I was surprised by the impeccable craftsmanship and labor that had obviously been the norm in 300AD shown in the gold and blue stone jewelery which, looked modern even by todays high standards.
The complete archaeological process is explained in great detail and the museum even had some pieces the FBI located.
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