Posted by: Jessie Kwak | October 5, 2009

Northern Peru: Things are very old here

We’ve managed to break free from the comfortable twilight zone that was our time in Huanchaco, and now we’re staying with Luigi, Cady and their cat at the Bohemios Cafe Bar in Trujillo. The bar is closed on Sundays, so we haven’t yet experienced it in its full splendor, but there was broken glass on the floor when we arrived, and we keep hearing references to how crazy Saturday night was. We’re sleeping in a little unfurnished room upstairs above the entranceway—it’s insulated with styrofoam so that the street sounds are muffled, but for me it’s almost comforting to hear the cars.

Trujillo is a much bigger city than we’ve been in for a while. Their tourist office set us up with a map listing half a dozen colonial houses that we’ve yet to visit, and from what we’ve seen through the open doors there’s a lot of great history here. The Plaza de Armas is one of the prettiest ones I’ve seen, with wide walkways, plenty of well-kept flowering shrubs amid the palm trees, and a towering fountain in the center. The buildings surrounding it are all well-kept and brightly painted, and much cleaner than Lima.

Stone men.

Stone men.

We arrived to find that the city was in the midst of celebrating its 59th annual International Festival of Spring. We joined the throngs watching the parade: clowns on stilts, regional Miss So-and-so’s engulfed in layer-cake dresses on whimsical floats, and at least a dozen marching bands of varying quality. Each marching band was proceeded by a tall, blond baton twirler in a velvet gymnastic outfit. The entire tall blond population of Trujillo must have been rounded up for the occasion.

Not the only one.

Not the only one.

I noticed a disappointing lack of flute players in the parade. Rob says that flutes have no place in marching bands, but I disagree. He’s just jealous at how light our instruments are.

Today we learned a lot about just how old Northern Peru is. We went first to a rather fantastic little museum, the Museo Arqueológico “José Cassinelli Mazzei,” a private collection of pottery and ceramics of civilizations from the Chavín to the Inca. It’s, oddly, in the basement of a gas station. A guide showed us around the cramped quarters, explaining the differences between each civilization’s style of pottery in a way that actually made it quite fascinating (to me, at least).

We learned a lot about the Moches while at the museum, then we made our way out to Huaca de la Luna and Huaca del Sol, two enormous Moche temples. I’m going to link you to Wikipedia’s entry on the Moches if you really care, because I didn’t take notes, and I’ll probably get my facts wrong if I try to tell you about them. Archeologists have only excavated the Huaca de la Luna, which is full of amazing frescoes and carvings. Rob hasn’t gotten his photos edited yet, but I’m sure they’ll do more justice than my fried description-maker synapses right now. Keep your eyes peeled, folks. We’ll get those posted tomorrow.

From Trujillo we’re on to Cajamarca, back up into the Andes for even more history lessons involving Incas, Spaniards, and tons of interesting pre-Inca ruins. Better get those oxygen mask back out….

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