Chan-Chan

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, April 23, 2012

I've had a horrible night's sleep but desperately need to see something decent today so we set off for Chan-Chan, a huge indigenous-built mud city constructed thousands of years ago by The Chimor.  It is one of those sights you don't forget in a hurry.  Thank goodness I'm sober enough to enjoy it.

In the baking Peruvian heat we're escorted round the fascinating ruins.  The city stretches for miles, yet only so much of it has been excavated.  It's built from adobe, and is the largest of it's kind in the world.  That's sand, clay and water to you and me.  The geometry and accuracy of the labyrinth of 50ft walls and intricate carvings is astounding, as is the stories behind them.  Archeologist's have a knowledge of the people here because of their illustrations in the walls and on pottery and artifacts found at the dig site.  Numerous examples of human remains were also uncovered, some as recently as 1998.  The power of history at work.

Chimor warriors fought battles with each other, with the loser being sacrificed to the gods.  Numerous examples of sacrificial alters were discovered.  One can't help but feel sorry for the chap who is beaten in the fight, only to add insult to injury by losing their head to appease the sun, moon, sea, or whoever else they worshiped at the time.  Bummer.  Watch Apocalypto for more historically accurate commentary.

The decorations engraved in the walls suggest a very talented, intelligent, if spiritually misguided race.  Four entrances into the palace for the cycle of the moon.  A series of four steps in the walls to represent the tides.  Perfectly sculptured diamond shapes to reference the fish nets.  Animals, rainbows, mythical creatures and stories all perfectly preserved.  That is if it wasn't for "El Niņo."

Unfortunately one of the continents most destructive natural occurrences rears it's head every 5 or 6 years.  It then rains torrents every day for 8 hours solid for around 6 months.  This has a somewhat damaging effect on the remains of the Chimor stronghold, so much so that much of the complex has been protected by recent roofing.  Good for the world heritage site, bad for photographs.  The picture postcard one will always elude with an intruding corrugated iron sheet in the way.  It's still pretty damn impressive.

A visit to the equally impressive Huaca Del La Luna follows, which is a Moche temple dedicated to...you've guessed it...the moon.  The sun temple was closed which was a little disappointing.  Standing at the top of this recently discovered behemoth, you can see in the valley below where the remains of a once great city are buried.  Archaeologists have only just begun the dig, which will not be finished in their lifetimes.  It would be very interesting to come back when they're a little further down.  I'm aiming for when I'm 80.

After burning in the sun and whipped with sand all day, Paddy and myself decide the health kick needs to continue with a sauna.  We've got a few hours to kill before the night bus to Lima, so we join sweaty fat men and pray it's not one of those establishments.  I've not been in a sauna and steam room for a while, but I can already feel it's benefits.  Hopefully this is a statement of intent on my continued road to recovery.  I even manage to throw out two packets of cigarettes.  I can always buy more in Lima.

Our transport awaits at 10.45pm.  The very aptly named "Itzabus" will whisk us to the capital in comfort and style.  I've never been on a coach like this, and it's about time the National Express learned a thing or two from these boys.  It's like flying first class, without the fear, complete with a sexy hostess sporting a cracking arse.  It's just a shame I pass out when my head touches the recliner and I don't regain consciousness for the full 8 hours journey.  At least it saved me from getting a slap.
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