On to Huanuco 3/23/15

The People of Huaraz are healthy and strong. I deeply admire and respect the people of the Ancash region. Those who have ancestral roots here are direct descendents of the Incas. Many  still tend their corn (maize) and quinoa and llamas as the have for centuries.  Only dna and/or blood tests can reveal the extent of genetic mixing of these peoples since Pizarro arrived.

The mingling of cultures is obvious. Catholic buildings  are a ubiquitous presence. Many ‘evangelical’ protestant groups have substantial followings… Seventh day adventists, Ba’hia, Hare krisha and Mormons have a presence. There is a ‘plaza de armas’ in most every town. Quechua  is often heard in the marketplace. There are  ‘festival’ posters showing various cultural/historical images: Actors in the garb of conquisatores side by side with people in Incan costume and images of the crucified Jesus… all blended together.

My 11 day stay at the newly opened Santa Cruz Trek Hostal was a good one. Abundant hot water, new bed, quiet neighborhood, (a very economical price) great local food… delicious mountain air… vibrant, friendly people… all these things made it hard to leave Huaraz.

Found that there is only one transport company exiting Huaraz towards Huanuco.  The ‘Rapido’ transport company has three buses departing daily. 6AM, 1PM, and 3PM.  The bus goes to Huallanca and La Union only. From La Union one must hire a car to continue on to Huanuco.

P1140975Above: El Rapido Bus  in company, Huaraz 5:30AM

I chose the 6AM bus. Paid my bill at the Santa Cruz hostel the night before departing.  A young man would get up at 5:15AM and help me lug my bags down a flight of stairs and help me hail an early morning taxi.  I knew how far it was from the hostel to the bus office. Had all my bags completely packed before going to bed. Slept lightly. Arose at 5AM. Dressed. Stripped my bed. Piled my sheets, pillow case, and towel into a neat pile. Removed all my trash from the room. I like to leave a place as clean as I can and have it ready to be prepped for the next guest.

Was at the ‘El Rapido’ office by 5:30AM. Had a quinoa beverage sold by a sidewalk vendor in front of the station. Sat in the waiting area with others, watching the ever present flat panel television screen showing local news and images. It appeared to me that most travelers were local business people. Many had small laptops in tow.

We were invited to  board the small bus at 5:55AM.  It departed shortly after 6AM as advertised. The journey was to take exactly 4 hours from Huaraz to La Union, making various stops along the way until arriving in Huallanca where it stopped for 10 minutes before continuing on to La Union.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Huayhuash

The bus route is a continuous long low climb ascending among the Huayhuash range. There are some spectacular vistas of distant peaks along the way. The climb is steady for 2 hours before any descent. Then there is the constant ‘s’ curves up and down before a long decent into a lovely narrow valley.

P1140987Bus window view gradually climbing into the Huayhuash

P11600203 Hours East of Huaraz between Huallanca and La Union

At La Union there were cars waiting to take passengers on to Huanuco.  La Union to Huanuco is 137km. That ride takes another full 3 and a half hours.

P1160023P1160031Above: Bus station and street view of La Union (The red car was my ride to Huanuco)

If you have time or interest, you might find it amusing to do a Google Earth route from Huaraz to Huanuco. You will find the route from La Union to Huanuco of particular interest.  Imagine stitching together a hundred or so ‘S’ curves that are carved into the side of steep areas looking down into a continuously winding series of river valleys. There are no guard rails.

I sat in the front next to the young driver. There were two passengers in the back seat and we did pick up a third along the way. Buses do not do this leg of the Huaraz/Huanuco route during the rainy season. Many occasional (smaller) rock and mudslides are cleared on a daily basis. People accept this as a normal part of life.

Drivers get used to having to lay on the horn approaching the numerous ‘blind’ curves. You never know what might be right around the corner.  This is not a journey for those who spook easily. Once you do develop some confidence in your driver it is possible to enjoy the spectacularly beautiful scenery.

P1160039From the car window La Union to Huanuco

Santa Cruz Trek Days 3 and 4

P1140757Day 3:

Margarita, our wonderful guide would rise an hour before everyone else. I would hear her happy laughter at 5AM from her cooking tent. She and the cook would boil water from whatever river we were camped near for the evening meal, breakfast and hiking water. At 5:45AM she would go around to each tent and slap on the side of the fabric and say in her feminine Quechua lilt: “Gud mording, tyme tu gad ap… gad ap naow… bregfast ready 10  meenoots… gad ap naow.”

The morning ritual of renewing water for the hike from the newly boiled water happened sporadically as one camper after another shuffled over to fill their bottles.

After painfully stuffing my feet into the damp boots, I rose and did my ablutions quickly and quietly. Rolled my bag and stuffed into sack, rolled the thin rubber mat, and took them to the tarp where all the common gear would later be loaded on the donkeys. Breakfast this morning consisted of very thin oatmeal and a piece of bread with butter and jam… and a cup of tea. I finished quickly and hobbled around getting my ankle prepped.

Part of my preparation that morning was taking two pain medications generously offered by Eddie. I was reluctant to take anything… but I also knew there were seven hours of hiking to do and I didn’t want to ruin the day being nagged by ankle pain.  I am grateful to both Eddie and the young French lady for offering me the pain meds that they (wisely) included in their trekking gear.

It would often rain at night, sometimes very hard. Sometimes the wind would then partially dry the outer fabric of the tents. The donkey driver and cook would be the last to leave camp. They waited for the sun to dry the rainflys before stuffing the tents into their respective bags. Then, they would pack the gear on the donkeys before beginning their trek.

Eddie and Ian, the men from England and I  began our trek before the rest of the group. We set out on the path around 6:30AM. I knew that I would eventually be passed by everyone shortly. Eddie and Ian got a lead and I lost sight of them and hiked alone until others caught up and passed me.

Margarita stayed with me for a while and informed me that there were two paths ahead. One, that went uphill to a ‘mirador’ a scenic spot. There was also a lower trail. The two trails would converge. She recommended that I take the lower trail describing that I would eventually come to a log and rock bridge that crossed the river below. She then went on ahead to be with the main group.

P1140762Above: The clouds obscured what would have been a view of Alpamayo

The previous afternoon, at the camp, while others were busy paying attention to other things, I did catch a glimpse of the peak of Alpamayo.  It was late in the day. There was an opening in the cloud cover for about ten minutes. The perfectly formed shape appeared, like a ghost… and then it was gone. Did not have time or presence of mind to get a photo. I did record it in my memory. Beautiful.

https://www.google.com.ec/search?q=alpamayo&biw=1366&bih=657&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=7LESVfr_IMOhNs2ggJAM&sqi=2&ved=0CBsQsAQ&dpr=1

Sound file morning of 3rd day. River, insects, bird sounds and me clomping along the rocky trail

P1140767Day 3 trail gradually descends to the base of the Santa Cruz river valley

 A half hour or so after making the above sound file, I had finally reached a flatter area parallel to the river. As I proceeded, I saw a person standing within 40 yards of what appeared to be the bridge. As I drew closer I recognized that it was Ian. He had also taken the lower route.  I don’t think either of us missed much in the way of scenic vistas. There was a low cloud cover obscuring the tops of the mountains.  We both saw movement high above us and recognized that our companions would be along shortly.

I led the way across the crude log bridge and picked my way through the not very obvious path. Now the trail paralleled the river. The floodplain was wide and the way was 75 yards wide. I followed barely recognizable footprints and occasional donkey scat.

Eddie and Ian had passed me and were probing ahead. I could not discern the correct path. One other couple passed by. Finally, I heard Eddie shout… “It’s here… this is the way”.  I followed others. The way required one to squat and carefully duck under a low rock outcropping. If one were to fall, it would only be a 15 foot drop, but you would be in the river.  I carefully and slowly made each move.  Taking care to remain in balance the whole time.  After this one precarious area, the path continued a gradual descent parallel with the river.

P1140775The path follows the ever descending river

The path gave way to wider vistas.  The vegetation changed. The microclimate was a bit warmer.  Huddled in the clefts were different kinds of shrubs and small trees, agaves, and cactus. Saw small birds, tiny butterflies,  and even a fleeting chameleon. The sound of the river was ever present,  Natural symphonic background music to enhance the spectacular valley scenery.

P1140798…And at times the way would ascend briefly above the river

P1140799…Only to descend again and return to the rivers edge

 My senses were tingling from the whole experience of this altogether amazing Natural encounter. I found that I was not in a hurry to ‘be done with it’. I was savoring every vista, every sound. My right ankle was cranky and wanted me to pay attention to it’s pain. The only thing to be done was to enjoy as much as possible of this incredible experience and to ignore the sharpening aches. Some trekkers covered the same (or longer) distance in 5 and half hours (or less). It required 7 hours for me to finish the 3rd days hike before arriving at camp.

We all knew that this night’s camp would be the last time to enjoy this temporary community of international companions. We stayed a little longer in the meal tent. We laughed, and ate, and drank our tea. A bittersweet mixture of the shared joy of our mutual experience and sadness at knowing we would soon go our own ways was present.

Above: sound file of the trekkers coaxing our guide, Margarita to sing a little in her beautiful Quechua voice

Above: The trekkers and Margarita coax Alecia, the cook, to sing with Margarita. Trekkers joined in as impromtu percussion by clapping their hands to the Andes inspired song.

The evening meal over, and the spontaneous concert ended; one by one, we retired to our respective tents knowing that the next day’s trek would be much shorter and our journey together would shortly be over.

Day 4:

The next morning Eddie reported that he had seen the Hubble telescope and the international space station dancing across the early morning sky.  I was up around 3 AM and had seen a dazzlingly bright partial moon with stars visible even with the moonlight.  The sound of the river ever sang it’s powerful lullabye to each still in their respective  dreamlands.

I had taken a few generic xtra strength ibuprophen tablets with my morning tea. My right ankle is almost always cranky and stiff in the morning. I knew that I  had hiked the most difficult part of this trek. Today was the last day.

I have learned that it is unwise to lose focus on matters at hand. At hand, here, was the reality that although my trek was ALMOST over… there remained perhaps four hours more… all downhill and on trails which overhang a river valley, in places far below.  This would still require a ‘careful’ attitude.

The thought uppermost in my mind was caution. I was passed by everyone during my hike.  The French ladies, the Korean lady and the couple from French Guiana stayed with me for a time. They too seemed to not be in a hurry.  Margarita stayed with me the longest. Then she informed me that the rest of the hike would be fairly easy, well marked, and all gradually downhill. I reminded her that I have a whistle if I felt in need of assistance. She went on ahead.

The sun was bright and the canyon was lit up brightly. My job was to carefully, cautiously, and more or less continuously to put one foot in front of the other, use the trekking poles judiciously, and eventually catch up to my companions, somewhere ahead, in a small village below.

The last day’s hike took me three and a half hours. Eddie and Ian reported arriving in the small village about and hour and a half from departing camp.

The following photos are of the last leg of the journey:

P1140819P1140827P1140835P1140851P1140880P1140891P1140896

Ian and Eddie had been at this place for almost two hours  by the time I got there. They had the proprietor of this tiny establishment putting as many beers as could be found in the freezer. The rest of the group had trickled in at their own pace. Needless to say, by the time I got there, most were not feeling any pain.

Today was the only day that the donkeys did not beat me. They and the gear showed up about a half hour after I arrived. They were unloaded and the gear went back up on the van. It would be another three hours in the van before we arrived back in Huaraz.

A group tip collection was taken up. Eddie officiated. Some offered their own gratuities according to their own inner assessments. I felt it a privilege to offer Margarita my own personal offering of gratitude and respect for a job well done.

P1140912The van ride back to Huaraz

It must be said that the locals of Ancash and all those that serve in the tourist trade near Huaraz show extraordinary patience with these strange invaders from other parts of the world who bring their money, their different languages, music, and  who exhibit a range of actions illustrating differing  ideas about what it means to ‘have a good time’.

I felt that the van ride home was a bit ‘over the top’, and might have been a little too loud and crazy for the driver, Alicia the cook and Margarita, our guide… but Eddie was bent on sharing his stored music with a captive audience. He was displaying the knowledge of his many years spent in the music industry and the new technology available to do that sharing.

Everyone went away with an unforgettable experience. No one was injured.  I felt that as a group, we served as an example that Humans have as much ‘in common’ as there may exist ‘differences’.  We were kind and patient with one another. We showed respect for our hosts and for their incredibly beautiful environs.

We came, we saw, we shared, we enjoyed.

Next up: Huaraz to Huanuco

Santa Cruz Trek: Days 1 and 2

P1140599Van pick up at  my hostel 6:30AM at the start of the first day.

 I signed up for the trek through the owner of my hostel. I did not have any idea how many people would be going, nor did I have much of a clue as to what I might actually encounter. I read about  the Santa Cruz Trek online. I knew it  consisted of  4 days hiking and 3 nights camping. I knew there would be spectacular scenery.  Several sites billed it as ‘moderate’ in difficulty.  I felt I could negotiate ‘moderate’.

I had also followed the recommended procedure of spending at least 2 days and nights in Huaraz prior to the trek (if coming from the coast/ sea level)  to give the body a chance to adjust to the the altitude.  I spent four nights in Huaraz and I walked around town 3 to 4 hours each day.  My backpack had everything I could think I might need.  I rented a pair of trekking poles from an outfitter.  I was as  prepared as I knew how to be… or so I thought as the van pulled up.

15 people including the driver were in the van when I piled in . I made the 4th person in the rear bench seat. There was a mix of young men and women. The group was quiet during the ride from Huaraz to Yungay.

March is in the low season for Huaraz based tourism. Different tour ‘operators’ put our one group together. My sense is that the many different tour operators and guides know one another very well and ‘share’ when it’s off season.

Huaraz to Yungay: 3 hours. Then the van turns onto a gravel road continuing on an uphill curvy route. We stopped at a place where some in the group had a quick breakfast. Not far from the breakfast stop is the park entrance. We were all required to sign in and pay 65 soles each, the park entry fee (good for 14 days).

The van ride continued past the park office. We stopped to admire Llanganuco Lake. Many places in Huaraz offer a visit to this lake as a ‘day trip’. We continued onward uphill beyond the lake.

P1140603Llanganuco

P1140621Above is looking back on the road we traversed. Encountered 15 minutes of sleet on the way up. 

 We arrived  Yanama around 1PM. Next step was to unload the gear from the top of the van. Next, the donkeys were loaded with the mess tents, food, propane, and tents/sleeping bags for the group.  Each person had their own packs and water to carry.

P1140624 P1140641

Began the first steps of the trek about 1:30PM

I learned that we would have one guide. Her name was Margarita. There would be one donkey driver and one cook. These people, (and the donkeys) made it all possible for the rest of us (the paying clients).

The trek would entail 48 kms total. Day one hike would be a short one, three hours (four for me) before setting up camp. Day two would be the ‘tough one’… 7 hours total;  4 all uphill to Punta Union a 15,000 ft mountain pass… and 3 hours down a steep, very rocky course. Day three would not be as much of an uphill course, but it would also take 6 hours to complete before camp. Day four would be mostly downhill and it would take 3 and a half hours (for me… some did it in less than 2 hours)

P1140650

P1140652P1140659 P1140662P1140676

Above: Scenes of first day’s hike.

I lagged behind everyone on every day of the journey. Both of my ankles have sustained past injuries and I’m not as spry as I once was. This did not cause a problem for anyone. Everyone hikes at their own pace.  I will admit that my group picked up my slack by pitching the tents every night without my assistance.  They were all very patient with me.

Food was memorably delicious only because it was hot and shared. We all turned in shortly after dark. Breakfast would be served at 6AM. Everyone had been informed that the following days journey would be the most challenging.

A tiny bit of confusion swirled around which of the other 12 clients would be my tent companions.  I wanted that decision to be made by the guide or by common consent within the group. I wound up tenting with the young men from Switzerland and Quebec. I slept in the middle, because I needed to exit the tent several times each night.

The ‘client group’ consisted of: two young women from France traveling together,  a husband/wife from Argentina (I think) who were now living in French Guiana, another couple: young woman from Germany, young man from Brazil, two men from England who had been pals for many years, and five solo travelers; a young woman from Korea, a young woman from New Jersey, a male teen from Quebec, a young man from Switzerland, and myself. Most of the group were 20’s or 30’s. The English men were 40ish and 50ish. And me… the senior of the group. By the end of the 2nd night they were calling me ‘Popi’.

Photos below were taken during day 2 of the trek:

P1140684Eddie and Ian

P1140686The Quechua guide; Margarita and Carlos

P1140699P1140706P1140707Everyone has passed me… patient Margarita assures me that I am strong and can make it to the pass… up, up, up. One foot in front of the other… 

P1140711I made it!  4 and a half hours, uphill every step.  At 15, 584 feet above sea level.

P1140720At Punta Union Pass. From upper left: two French ladies, the French Guyana couple, Ian, Eddie, the New Jersey gal, Carlos the Swiss farmer, the German girl and her Brazilian boyfriend, Nickolaus from Quebec, me, the young Korean lady.

P1140738The real heroes of the trek

We stopped ate some lunch at the pass. Most of my companions had been there for an hour by the time I arrived. They continued on ahead of me toward day two camp. The donkeys always passed me in the afternoon. I didn’t mind. I preferred everyone hiking on ahead so I didn’t feel like I was inhibiting their enjoyment.  Margarita would hike on ahead with the cook and then they would sit and wait for me to catch up… then they would go on ahead again.  I had the Spot device and I always carry a whistle.

The next three and a half hours were very hard on my ankle. There were many smallish rounded rocks… and it is well understood that downhill inclines are tough on knees. I could not have done this trek without the trekking poles.  I was careful and took my time. Did not break any speed records, but I enjoyed the scenery and ignored the ankle pain.

Back at camp that night, everyone could see I was hurting. One of the French ladies offered me some of her ibubrophen. I felt like kind of dumb for not thinking of pain meds for myself.

Enjoyed dinner and the good natured international language banter.

The camps were always adjacent to running water. The soothing nature sounds blended in with visions of the days scenery as I slept, waking on the hour almost to the minute through the night.

Had ankle and knee pain, but that was soothed by thoughts of the next day’s (7 hour) trek that was reportedly going to be much less demanding than today’s journey.

Being in Nature and sensing that you are part of it all causes all of Life’s dramas… and real and/or imagined pains to fade into the darkness… to be absorbed in the sounds of water negotiating gravity and rocks… seeking it’s level.

The next day would begin just as this one had… dawn in the crisp mountain air… muffled murmurings of younger companions, fumbling half awake in unfamiliar tents and sleeping bags… shuffling about half clothed, huddling themselves together, thinking  of warm mate de coca and breakfast.  Then plodding forward, one foot after another through fairyland scenery,  sun rays glistening off the white of the snow capped peaks.

P1140741P1140743

Next: Santa Cruz Trek Days 3 and 4

Whereas Huaraz

P1140344Above a woman crosses the main street of Huaraz

Huaraz is a seven hour bus ride from Trujillo. The route turns inland and up into the Andes. Huaraz weather is radically different from  coastal towns. One can choose one’s preferred temperature by choosing one’s altitude. Huaraz is 10,000 feet above sea level.

The people of Huaraz suffered a massive earthquake in the 1970’s.  It destroyed most examples of colonial architecture .  Tens of thousands of people were affected, many homes were completely destroyed. The major aspects of climate and geography of  Earth life do not go away and cannot be ‘fixed’ by modern science.  Rock slides, mud slides, avalanches, and earthquakes are a way of life for people in the Andes. It is not a matter of ‘if’, but only a matter of ‘when’.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970_Ancash_earthquake

Nevertheless, the people of this region have seen fit to rebuild, employing more modern techniques and materials in their buildings. People do what they can to forget disasters and to continue their lives as though they won’t happen again.  This seems to be true almost universally.

Huaraz and the Cordierra Blanca are considered by many as the  ‘Switzerland of the Andes’.  More than fifty peaks exceed 15,000 feet in altitude in the Ancash region of Peru. The high tourist season is during the Peruvian/Andes  dry season: June/August.  In the dry season, tens of thousands of trekers and alpine ‘technical climbers’ visit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Blanca

March is nearing the end of the wet season. There are still many rainy days and peaks are often obscured by cloud covering. Prices of tours and hotels understandably correspond to the seasonal conditions.

I signed up for a 4 day 3 night hike. I accomplished the Santa Cruz trek, about 48 kilometers total, which includes a 15,000 foot pass (Punta Union pass).

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130724-trekking-perus-santa-cruz-trail

Huaraz and surrounding environs are unique, spectacular and amazing.

The internet, cell phones, large flat panel screens, television, and modern technology have changed the psychological and emotional environment here. Quechua speaking farmers and vendors wearing traditional hats and clothing are seen with cell phones up to their ears.  Their children are playing video games, texting, and exploring all manner of world wide web content.  The interests and information available to anyone/everyone brings constant change.

Was in a restaurant yesterday where there were two 3 x 4 foot screens. All the customers were focused on the screens. A soccer game was shown live. Espn was the network feed.  There was an open bottle of Inca Kola (is yellow and tastes like bubble gum) on each table.

One of my very favorite things that exist throughout Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is the abundance, variety, and affordability of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, meat and all manner of food products.  These basic things are grown and marketed by a large percentage of the population. All one need do is to locate  the local ‘mercado central’… the central market. I’ve not been to any town/city in Latin America that lacks one.

P1140325 P1140334P1140337

Basic foodstuffs are not monopolized/dominated by a small group of corporate entities. It is not difficult to make healthy food choices here for anyone. People here have a relationship with their Natural surroundings and still have a fundamental understanding of what ‘good food’ is and where it comes from.

People here watch soccer instead of football or baseball, they speak Spanish or Quechua instead of English, they wear different styles and brands of clothing, they listen to different kinds of music, they eat different types of food… yet Life is strangely very similar.

Daily I pass individual entrepreneurs; tiny sidewalk storefronts and sidewalk vendors of all sorts.  I see book vendors, fruit vendors, small bakeries, tiny restaurants, ‘techno shops’… offering cell phones, cell service or offering to change internal cards, sell usb sticks/memory cards… tour guides, backpacking equipment, hardware stores, small ‘schools’/learning institutions of differing types of instruction, hotels/hostels/hostals…  all these (and more) can be seen blatantly and professionally advertised in Huaraz during a fifteen minute walk.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaraz

http://wikitravel.org/en/Huaraz

P1140562Above: A view the city of Huaraz from Mirador Rataquenua

According to archeologists one of the oldest (verified by carbon dating of artifacts) known human settlements in South America was discovered at Guitarerro cave,  not far from Huaraz.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitarrero_Cave

The Ancash archeological museum is directly across the street from the Plaza de Armas. This museum is home to perhaps the largest collection of early human stone carvings.

P1140368Sidewalk view of entrance to the museum

P1140377A rock  carving display

P1140407

P1140409An outdoor garden of the museum features hand carved wooden benches and walkways to take in the  many authentic stone carvings from the Chavin culture at your leisure.

Next: The Santa Cruz Trek

Trujillo: A Blend of Epochs and Cultures

Below: A short video showing a bit of Trujillo, Peru

This was my first  experience of Trujillo, Peru. The last time I passed near Trujillo I was on my epic motorcycle journey and did not venture into the city. I only saw the very outskirts from the Pan American highway.  The air was filled with the smell of burning plastic (they burn trash to get rid of it in many parts of Peru).  I had been on the motorcycle tour for fourteen months and was intent on returning Northward to Ecuador and Colombia and so did not stop to see the city.

I found Trujillo to be a very pleasant surprise. It is a large city, yet it  has a surprising smaller,  village feel to it.  Great food, surprising archeological sites, friendly people, and a blending of the old and the new…  will be found in Trujillo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trujillo,_Peru

P1130964A typical bus window scene from Piura to Trujillo facing West

There are several bus services that go from Piura all the way to Lima. Finding a bus service that stops at a particular town along the way takes some doing.  I found that there were only a few that offered ‘direct’ service to Trujillo from Piura.

The service I chose was Ittsa. There was no indication that it would be any different from any of the other services. I bought the ticket the previous day from departure. When I arrived to board the bus I discovered that travelers must ‘precheck’  luggage too large to go as ‘carry on’. Then I saw that the Ittsa folks  have a metal detector and a security checkpoint complete with two (non government) employees going through the motions.

I ‘checked’ my large yellow case and proceeded to the ‘security’ checkpoint with my smaller blue case. I was told it was too big and had to be stowed in the luggage compartment and could not go with me as a carry on. I explained that I had traveled on many buses and airplanes with that case. I explained that it was especially designed as a carry on case.

The security man was adamant and suggested I check with the management. I got out of line, went to the office and explained the same thing… was given the same response; the bag could not board with me.

I could have then demanded that my other bag be removed and I could have demanded a refund. I did not.  I knew that this was a private company and that the decisions were not ‘mandated’ by law. I did not like it, but I chose to do the ride instead of spending another night and finding another service.

This is a bus service that pretends it’s an airline. There are ‘stewardesses’, food is served, movies are shown on overhead screens and terminals have ‘check in’ and luggage retrieval stations… just like an airline.  The ride was 8 hours from Piura to Trujillo.  Both bags came out of the bus and all was well.

P1130972The Ittsa bus terminal in Trujillo

Got a taxi from the terminal to take me to ‘el centro’ .  There are always several hostals to choose from near the center of town. I found one that fit my budget, a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas.

P1140244Plaza de Armas, Trujillo.  Trujillo cathedral (yellow) in background, constructed 1647-1666

My journey from Mancora to Piura to Trujillo was required to get me to my real goal of experiencing the Cordierra Blanca mountains <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordillera_Blanca>.  I would be in Trujillo only a  few days before continuing on to Huaraz.

Learn about the archeological sites nearTrujillo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moche_culture         http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chim%C3%BA_culture

P1140019Cerro Blanco Moche  in the background as seen from the Huaca del Sol sacrifical area

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huaca_del_Sol

P1140058Ancient Moche carvings each panel is about 5 x 5 feet

Visited the Huaca de Moche museum before proceeding on to walk through the archaeological dig that has been ongoing for many years. The scaffolding and the roof structures have been built to prevent deterioration/weathering of the now uncovered walls. It is estimated that the Moche culture existed somewhere between 800 to 100 BC.  The Moche built aqueducts similar to the Roman version for channeling water to irrigate their crops.

P1140033Moche ceramic murals

The tour went back to town for lunch before proceeding to see some of the Chimu culture which came after the Moche.

P1140068Fresh fish ceviche, large kernel corn, yucca, and yam for lunch

Then on to Chan Chan: < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chan_Chan >

First stop was at the Huaca Arco Iris O Dragon site. Below are some photos of that place. P1140093P1140097Above: workers building a roof structure to protect the impressive unearthed art of the Chimu culture Below: Large uncovered relief carvings depicting a rainbow… guessed to have been emitted by some dragon like creature(s)

We walked around this site for a half hour. The Arco Iris site is situated in a residential city environment.

We reboarded the bus  before proceeding to the main courtyard areas of Chan Chan a few miles away, and not near the city area. The entire area of Chan Chan is estimated to be around 20 square kilometers and had an estimated population of around 30,000 Chimu people.

P1140125Massive adobe walls of Chan Chan leading to expansive open ceremonial courtyard


Sounds of gravel and wind while walking Chan Chan site

P1140136Relief motif depicting fish of the Humboldt current.

The Chimu people were fishermen. When the Spaniards arrived there they encountered several groups of people who sailed in reed boats off the coast.

P1140151Artistic walls depicting various aspects of the belief system of the Chimu people extended for acres

After walking around this huge complex for over an hour we then headed to the small beach town adjacent to Trujillo, Huanchaco.

P1140204Local tourists entering the fishing pier at Huanchaco

P1140225Reed boats still made and still used by fishermen line the beach of Huanchaco

P1140214Surf and surfers to the South side of the fishing pier

The Moche/Chan Chan/Hanchaco tour was about 10 hours including the stop for lunch. My guide spoke only Spanish. I am sure there are many other options. I was very pleased, learned a lot,  and thought it was a very good value.

My few days and nights in Trujillo were very enjoyable. I can heartily recommend Trujillo to anyone near the area. You won’t be disappointed.  Much to do. Great weather. Great food options. Excellent museums.

I did not take in a  Marinera dance show nor did I see the skill of Peruvian Paso horsemanship… next time.

Next up: Huaraz and the Ancash region