Trujillo, the city of eternal spring due to it’s minimal seasonal change, and the cultural capital of Peru; sounds like a perfect place to stay!
Surviving the roads of Peru
As a child one of the most exciting things about catching buses is either being allowed to sit in the very back seat, or being on a double decker bus and being able to sit at the very front. We opted for the latter option for the bus to Trujillo, which allowed us to see EVERYTHING, selfie-sticks being sold on the side of the road, oncoming traffic while we were overtaking other buses, near accidents with tuk-tuks… On the plus side we were offered lunch, snacks and drinks on the bus for the journey.
We arrived alive into Trujillo, no longer hung over but extremely tired, and in need of a little dinner. Unlike the rest of Peru, Trujillo seems to work in normal hours, there was very little in the way of late night restaurants open at 10pm; but we found one.
Travelling like Shaniqua
Most of Trujillo involved trying to find places on a map that didn’t exist, and figuring out the bus system, which doesn’t really seem to have much of a system. We got chatting to another traveller who was in her mid 70’s, she was able to give us directions for the bus and some interesting things to see around Trujillo. We never actually got her name, so we shall call her Janet (a more reasonable choice to the original suggestion “Shaniqua”); Janet had been backpacking for six weeks, living out her retirement with stints of travel around the world - the day she left the hostel she was going to a place called Huaraz to do a hike. If either of us live that long, living a retirement travelling seems to be a good way to live!
Trujillo was one of the first cities founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1534; though, ironically it was the first of the cities to float the idea of independence from the Spanish empire, later becoming Peru’s first capital city. In short, the Spanish conquered the Incas, who conquered the Chimu Empire.
The Screaming Man Bus
After spending one of our days wandering around the main square of Trujillo, looking at old buildings and not being allowed into the Cathedral (because you can’t wear shorts), we decided to embark on a journey out to one of the ruins nearby. To get to Chan Chan you need to stand on the corner, where there is no bus stop, and wait for a minivan with a number on it and a guy hanging out the door screaming. When told this by the hostel staff we had a giggle, thinking they were joking about the guy screaming out the door; but sure enough, on the corner we waited and there was the guy screaming out the door.
Seeing Chan Chan
Arriving at Chan Chan we had a local try to con us into being taken around in his “taxi” for 60soles to all of the sites (he neglected to mention that we also then had to pay for the entry fees), after stumbling through our Spanish and politely declining numerous times, we were on our way toward a big pile mud brick in the middle of nowhere. On our walk down we came across some high school students who were in awe of us, I’m not sure if it was the whiteness of our skin or us speaking in English, we got quite a number of looks from them and the occasional ‘hello’ with a lot of giggling; it was a little bit of a novelty.
Arriving at the ruins we were escorted in and offered a guide who showed us around the historical palace.
Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimu empire and the largest pre-Colombian city in South America. The city has ten walled ciudadelas (mud-brick palaces), which housed the Kings of Chimu… only one king lived in the palace, as soon as they died a new palace was erected for the new king to move into (which they had probably started building 10 years earlier). The palaces are filled with ceremonial rooms, storage areas, courtyards, irrigation channels and interestingly enough, the king’s tomb.
Once we’d finished at the ruins, we walked back out toward the main road and up to the museum. Expecting a rather large museum we walked into a small room that contained only a few relics that were recovered from the Chan Chan palaces and their surrounds.
After the museum we waited out the front on the side of the road to catch the screaming man bus, whilst waiting we were beeped, flashed and hassled by every taxi driver going past. The bus turned up, the screaming man let us on but charged us a different price to the first screaming man bus; probably because we’re gringos.
The afternoon was spent relaxing at the beach, watching people learning to surf and continually falling off their boards, being convinced by every person walking past that we needed to eat in their restaurant or buy their sunglasses. The beach was nice, but still not as beautiful as the ones back home… we are really spoilt with beaches in Australia. While at the beach we tried some of the local food, hitting up a restaurant for a mountain of ceviche, buying a rum home made ice-cream along our walk, as well as some kind of mystery deep-fried honey drenched dough. Our lovely relaxing afternoon ended with us perched at a little café that gave us a perfect view of the sunset.
The Sun and Moon Temples
An ideal way to start the morning is with coffee… we forgot that we were back in instant coffee territory on Friday morning. Somewhat tired and looking forward to a decent coffee to go with our jam and butter breakfast we were hit with reality. It was time to go and find a café that didn’t charge through the nose for a half-decent coffee. This was much more of a mission than either of us had anticipated but we got there.
After being a little overwhelmed with information and somewhat exhausted, Dee decided to take it easy and catch up on some admin stuff back at the hostel for the day; the admin stuff may or may not have included a show or two of Orange is the New Black.
Near Trujillo there are a number of sets of ruins, James decided that he was going to go and check out the Huacas del Moche (the Temples of the Sun and Moon) instead. These temples are over 700 years older than Chan Chan and are filled with so, so, so much history. They are well worth the visit if you have time in Trujillo.
Because of how old the site is, and having been filled with dirt and mud for so long, much of the artwork is badly damaged and faded (I’ve edited these two photos to make them easier to see). The site is still actively being worked on by archaeologists too, but it was very cool to see.
Round and round and round
Upon his return from the Huacas we headed back into the main street to find ourselves some dinner before our bus to Mancora, at 11:30pm. On the way out of the hostel, Dee scared herself (again) by seeing the thing above the doorway, which she mistook for a huge spider!
We got ourselves to the bus station with plenty of time to spare, both ready to try and get whatever sleep we could on the eight-hour bus trip. Like with anything in South-America we were running on the locals’ time, so the bus didn’t leave until 1am, it was another terrifying ride but we weren’t sitting in the front row this time!
Go see all the photos from Trujillo