Posted by: adegraffenreid31708 | 12th Jan, 2011

Peru!…Trujillo and Cajamarca

I arrived in Trujillo aroun 4pm (should{ve been there at noon according to the guide book…yeah). The guide book warned me that decent cheap hostals are incredibly hard to find in Trujillo…and yeah, try impossible. I went to 5 different places before settling on a place for 40 soles. Now, I{m used to bad, somewhat dirty rooms – but I have my limits. Rooms where I{m afraid to use the bathroom or sleep in the bed…not my style. It needs to be cleaned SOMETIME in the last century. The place I got was pretty nice, other than the manager who proceeded to grill me about where my husband was and making all sorts of remarks about a woman{s place in society…then proceded to tell me how beautiful I was. I was like, go screw yourself.

Then, I went to dinner because I{d been on the bus for lunch. Walking around after dinner (it was all of 5pm), I was not only inundated by car horns and whistles, but some idiot followed me around for 3 minutes blaring a religious CD all about how proper Christian women should behave. That{s when I reached the end of my rope…hence, angry facebook status.

But, I did buy a tour for all day the next day to go to all the archaeological stuff that I wanted to see in the same day – 30 soles. So cheap!

The next day, off on the tour with the other Peruvians. It was really an awesome day. First, we went to Huaca de La Luna and Huaca del Sol. You can{t actually go up to Huaca del Sol because of ongoing excavations, but we got to see AMAZING panoramic views of the pyramid. Besides, Huaca la Lunca was so much better because you actually go inside it. ALso, the excavations are ongoing, so each year tourists can view more and more of the site. The site is actually five pyramids built on top of each other over hundreds of years, so as you go in, you actually get to see several layers of the pyramid. You can only see layers 3, 4, and 5 because to excavate further with the current technology runs the risk of completely destroying the top three layers which archaeologists aren{t currently willing to do.

The pyramid is incredible. You walk in, and immediately see friezes, still perfectly in tact and brightly colored as they were when first painted because they have been preserved by the younger layers of the pyramid (the 5th layer has been mostly destroyed by rain. Now, the pyramid itself is semi-protected from the elements as best as possible.). These friezes are HUGE and incredibly detailed. Also, you get to see the tool marks on the adobe bricks made by the workers who built the pyramids. Furthermore, you get to walk through and see individual rooms of the pyramid. However, the best part is walking to the front of the pyramid.

Walking around to the front of La Luna, I again was shocked to silence by the incredible site in front of me. The outside friezes of the pyramid were intact, and MASSIVE. They covered the entire outside wall of the pyramid, and the ramp leading up to the enterance. There were various frieze patterns representing different things, each in a row on top of one another. Each frieze was a goot 7-8 feet tall, and the entire wall was over 20 meters tall. It was truly incredible, and absolutely made Trujillo worth it.

That afternoon, we went to another Huaca, not as well preserved, but still with various visible friezes. Then, we went to one of the palaces of Chan Chan. Now Chan Chan needs imagination, because it{s almost been completely melted away, but this palace is the best preserved. Now, Chan Chan is an expansive city of adobe, the largest adobe city in the world, and we went to ONE of its palaces. To give you a hint of the scope of chan chan, we spent over an hour walking through the one palace, and saw only about a THIRD of it. Also, when driving on the road going through chan chan, it takes about 10 minutes to drive through the middle, and that{s just what is left of the city. It. Is. Huge.

Even decaying, the palace was impressive. It is easy to imagine how it used to be a five story building standing over 15 meters high. There are several plazas in the palace, each incredibly huge, meant to hold thousands of people for religious services. Walking through the palace is like walking through a labrynth, without a guide I would have been completely lost. The palace includes several plazas, burial chambers, expansive trade chambers, and its own beautiful lake to provide ceremonial water to the inhabitants, not to mention much more. It was so freaking cool.

After that, I decided to move on to the sierra the next day, I{d basically seen what I wanted to see, and the treatment I{d been receiving from citizens along the coast was sending me to the end of my rope, and I was nearly prepared to just pack up and go back to Ecuador where people aren{t so predatory ALL THE TIME.

Next morning, hoped on a bus to Cajamarca, going right back to the mountains I vastly prefer. Again, the bus ride was over an hour longer than the book said, but I suspected that. Best part though was right across the street was a bus company going to Chachapoyas, the next place I wanted to go. The guide book said there were no buses there, and I would have to go eight-ten hours to chiclayo, then 12-14 hours back to Chachapoyas to get there and I was considering skipping it, but there were tickets going there directly. So, I settled for the 11-12 hour bus ride (during the day) to get there. The book says the ride{s supposed to be stunning, hopefully It is and will keep me occupied, or 11 hours on a bus may drive me completely out of my mind.

Then, got a hotel and a tour the next day to Cumbe Mayo.

So, I as I went off to my tour of Cumbe Mayo (an amazing rock forrest and over 1,000 year-old aquaduct system with petroglyphs and religious caves), I went into my purse to get my camera to take a panoramic picture of the city and realized that I had left my camera in my hostal room. I feel like SUCH an idiot. I went somewhere INCREDIBLE – and have no pictures to show people how awe-inspiring it is. I´m still pissed at myself.

So, anyway, got there and we were surrounded on all sides by the Cumbe Mayo, which are these incredible rock-faces that just come-out of the fields and stand over 20-30 meters in the air. They´re incredible. Then, we walked to the Sanctuary of Cumbe Mayo (the poor people from the coast on vacation were suffering horribly from the altitude). It´s really cool because there is a cave that is completely filled with all sorts of petroglyphs representing all sorts of mysterious things. They believe that they are to worrship the god of water. There is then a path THROUGH the stone sanctuary used for myseterious religious services. The path itself was a little trecherous. You start by climbing up steep rocks and into the cave through a rock-path that is only about a foot or so wide, and that is as tall as the rest of the rockface. So, not only do you have to watch your step while climbing up steep and slippery rocks, but you have to do it sideways and squeezing. Then, as you enter the rock-sanctuary, you are plunged into complete darkness. No head-lamps, no nothing – they take you on the path the same way their ancestors did – in the dark. Of course, you´re still climbing and walking through an incredibly confined space, now with no way to see in front of you. It was an awesome experience – but the poor little girl several people in front of me got so scared she started crying.

Coming through, you are immersed in light, and come out into an absolutely stunning view of the Peruvian countryside, littered with these incredible rock forests. Unfortunately, the worst part of the tour is that you see how the local farmers exploit their children. All the children position themselves in various parts of the two-hour long trail to beg for money. Additionally, the parents have the children pose for pictures with various animals, traditional clothing, and farm equipment to charge people to take photographs. It´s just very sad that the locals have to use their children to try and get a few extra soles from tourists.

The rest of the tour is stunning, you get to walk through the rock-forests, climb the enormous boulders, and see the incredible archaeological feat that is ancient aquaducts, using perfect 45% and 90% angles, even within the rocks themselves. Also, there are an incredible number of petroglyphs all over the park, some remarkably preserved.

So pissed about the camera.

So, I spent the rest of the day walking around the city, which I really like. It´s the first city in Peru so far where I´ve actually really liked the city and not just the archaeology. Also, the people are so much different than on the coast – more polite, nicer, less predatory. I went a full 30 minutes in Cajamarca without being hissed or honked at. It´s been an incredible relief – i´m feeling much less like killing someone now that I´m here.

One cool thing, though, I went to the Ransom House, which is the only Incan building left in Cajamarca. It is the building where the Incan Emperor Athaualpa was held hostage while his people put together the infamous ransom for Francisco Pizarro. Also, I walked in the city´s main square, which is where the Emperor was burned alive at the stake by Pizarro´s men.

Today, I{m just relaxing and sight-seeing in the city. I didn{t want to go on another tour today, and am kind of worn down from all the travelling. Also, I feel far more comfortable in this city, still hissing and declarations and such, but it{s far less bad than along the coast. So, I{m not feeling the need to immediately escape the city. So, I{m just going to enjoy it here till tomorrow morning.

11 hours. On a bus. Im kind of dreading it already….I may just lose my mind.

Hope you{re all well!

So, advice on Peru.

1) It´s far more expensive than Ecuador, plan accordingly.

2) Patience with the buses. They´re nice, really nice with VAST amounts of leg room in comparison to Ecuadorian long-distance buses. But, times in the guide book should be elongated for about 1-2 hours, don´t be surprised.

3) Bathrooms – this is important. In Ecuador, typically you always have toilet paper (or, they sell it to you. Also, except along the southern coast.) and the toilet flushes. Don´t expect that in Peru. At all. The typical toilet has no paper or anything available, ALWAYS bring tissues with you. Also, the toilet most likely will not flush. There is either a bucket of water sitting outside for you to pour in to flush manually, or the attendants hand you a bucket of water to use. You´ve been warned.

4) Machismo. Ladies, it is so much worse in Peru than in Ecuador. It´s incredibly awful. Although, I´ve been told that it´s the worst along the northern coast, so I may have a skewed perspective. But, after a few days I was about ready to either abandon ship and head back to Ecuador or cut out the next sexist asshole´s toungue. Be prepared. The sierra is shapping up must better, though.

5) Taxis, et all. The vast majority of people seem to work for the sole purpose of getting a commission somewhere. Keep that in mind at all times.Don´t trust them. Have a hotel in mind when you get it in. As in the rest of Latin America, ask a price BEFORE getting in. Also, be prepared for ENDLESS numbers of taxis honking at you. They seem to think that just because you are walking down the street, you need a taxi (even if you´re walking in the opposite direction of traffic). It gets pretty bad, I had about 20 or so taxis honking at me every minute for days. Tour agencies are the same way. It can send you to your wits end. The number of people trying to get something from you is ENDLESS.

But, the sites are stunning.

6) Mototaxis. These are fabulous, they{re so much fun. Basically, a motorcycle attached to a little pull-along covered seat in the back. They{re cheap, friendly, and you get to ride along amused while bouncing around in the back seat. It{s great.


The ruins sound extraordinary….you had me worried about the camera. I was afraid you lost it.