PeruPosted by Malin Sun, July 17, 2011 04:11:26

Our planned travel route in Peru would take us south going more or less up in the Andes mountains. However, we decided to make one stop down by the coast around Trujillo to check out the Pacific once more. We camped in the small fishing village of Huanchaco. While we were there it was some kind of festival for the fishermen.

The local fishermen still use the traditional small boat made of four cigar shaped bundles of tied together tortora reeds when they go out fishing.

For the festival, one larger boat was made out of tortora reeds, and in this one they put a saint (or something) that they sailed to shore and transferred to a small copy of more modern boat. We did not fully understand what happened at this festival, but people were happy and in a good mood.

Since we were close to a bigger city, we used the opportunity to have a service on the Patrol at the Nissan-Volvo garage in Trujillo. It was a couple of things we wanted done beside the normal oil and filter changes (hand brake parts, bushes for the rear link arms, a new resistor for a sensor lamp, etc), and when we talked to them and made an appointment for the next morning, they said that they would be able to get parts and fix what we wanted done. The next day when we show up for the service they tell us our Norwegian Patrol is a bit different from the one in Peru, and therefore they cannot get the parts we wanted (Next day when we passed a parked Patrol on the street Espen had a look underneath it and the parts we wanted looked exactly like ours…). So all they ended up being able to do was the normal simple oil and filter changes. We wondered what Peruvian owners of Patrols do here if they really need something fixed on their car. It was not really an emergency for us so we will see if Espen can fix what Nissan can’t do somewhere else.

Around Trujillo there are numerous archeological sites, and we decided to visit two of the sites. One was the incredible La Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) which is a pyramid/temple built out of adobe bricks by the Moche culture. The peak for the Moche culture was between 400 and 600 AD.

The Pyramid of the Moon is built at the foot of the sacred mountain Cerro Blanco, and it is part of an older complex where one pyramid was built over an older pyramid. In total there are five pyramids under the pyramid that we see. The outer layer was pretty damaged by rain and weather, but archeologist found incredible painted friezes underneath on pyramid four and three.

It is an incredible amount of adobe bricks that has been produced to build this pyramid, and the producer have signed the bricks with his signature… (see the smiley face on the upper left row J ).

500 meters from the Moon Temple is the Sun Temple (Huaca del Sol), and in between them is (well, it used to be)) the village. The Temple of the Sun is not open for visitors, but we could drive next to it and look up on it. Our guide book told us that the estimates of the pyramid’s brickwork vary between 50 million and 140 million adobe bricks!!! No matter what the number is, it is incredible!

On the road between Trujillo and Huanchuco is the ruined city of Chan Chan that stretches across a large sector of the Moche Valley. Chan Chan was the capital of the Chimue Empire that appeared on the Peruvian Coast around 1100 AD. Tschudi Temple-Citadel, which is one out of nine Citadels, has been restored and is open for visitors. What impressed us the most about Chan Chan was not the restored site, but the size of the whole city and the remains you can still see. It must have been an enormous city at its peak.

After some days on the cost it was time to head up to the mountains again. Goodbye Pacific!!


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One day on the road in Peru

PeruPosted by Malin Sat, July 09, 2011 06:01:48

Waking up in the morning in Leymebamba we started the day in a restaurant for breakfast. After shopping some bread and other supplies we were ready for the road. Leymebamba expected a visit from a minister or the president of Peru later in the day (we had different answers when we asked the locals about the visit) and it would be good to leave before the town got crowded.

From green Leymebamba at about 2600m it we drove up, up, and up through some small villages. The Peruvian women are incredible at using all their available time. While walking in the streets in the village they are knitting or spinning yarn.

We got up to the Barro Negro pass at 3680m and we were driving above the clouds.

The road was narrow and was winding down the mountain side. From our chilly stop at the pass in 7 degrees Celsius it got warmer and warmer until it was actually too hot to make a lunch stop at Balsas at 1200m.

Down by the river crossing at Balsas it felt more like a desert, and we were surrounded by cacti in 31 degrees Celsius. We drove up again until the temperature dropped and we could have lunch. After lunch the climb up the road continued, and we got to a pass at 3700m before heading down towards Celendin.

14 kilometers out of Celendin a women dropped a heavy bag full of corn on the ground and turned towards us to get a lift when she heard us coming. In our five hours of driving the 120 km from Leymebamba we had meet 11 cars/busses and two motorbikes. It would not be right to pass this woman so we gave her a lift down to town. When we got to town she pointed out where her house was, so then it was just to take her there. In front of her house she asked how much she owed us for the ride like she would do with colectivos (cars and minivans that operates like busses). When I told her it was for free I got a big hug.

The road continued up again from Celendin and we were back up in the highlands where all the houses had bright green toilets outside. Our guess was that they were the product of a sanitary project.

El Indio at 3620m was our last high pass for the day and after about 9 hours on the road we were back down at 2700m in Cajamarca. Hacienda San Vicente just outside town let us camp in their parking lot, and we were their only guests. Then suddenly a group of men came rolling in with their suitcases. They all got their rooms and disappeared. At dinner we saw them again when they had a quick meal before leaving the hacienda. When they left some locals kids was approaching them asking for their autographs. The kids came to our table and asked for our autographs when all the men were gone. After willingly writing ours we asked who the men were, and we learned that they were a famous Peruvian band called Grupo 5. We had to google Grupo 5 and found this video of them http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juFGdBC5oEQ

This was one good day on the road in Peru and we hope that it will be several days like this.


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Coffee, Rice and Kuelap

PeruPosted by Malin Thu, July 07, 2011 15:37:52

Our first impression of Peru was coffee and rice. Farmers south of the La Balsa border crossing were drying their coffee beans in sunny spots all along the road, and the narrow roads got even narrower. Every open flat space was in use and the village’s soccer fields were covered in black tarps with beans on top. Close to sunset everyone was busy collecting every single bean into bags for overnight storage just to repeat the whole procedure of spreading the beans out in the sun in the morning. From San Ignacio it was downhill to Rio Chinchipe and there the crop changed to rice. One paddy field after another was something we associated more with Asia than Peru.

It was really nice scenery to drive through. Further along the road we entered the Amazonas department of Peru, and it was a funny thought that all the rivers we drove across actually would end up in the Atlantic Ocean all the way on the other side of this enormous continent. We spent the night in Chachapoya, the capital of the Amazonas department at 2334 meters!! We felt pretty cold that night, and did not really have the Amazonas feeling… J

Chachapoyas was also the name of the pre-Inca group of people that lived in this area from 600 AD until the Incas came in around 1470. They built their cities high up in the mountains or on mountain tops. Kuelap at 3100 meters above sea level is one of the easiest accessible Chachapoyas cities todays since you can drive almost all the way up, while others you can hike to for some hours or days. We got up to the Kuelap Ruin parking lot late in the afternoon and camped up there for the night. Next morning we had the best view for breakfast. Looking down on the valley with its steep farmland and up on the ruins.

When walking the path up to the ruins, we walked on some even older history. Some of the rocks used on the path were full of fossils. The hill top had been filled out with rocks to make a larger flat area where they built their circular houses and the city. It is only three pretty steep entrances to the city and the further up in the entrance you get the more narrow it becomes, and in the end it is only space for one person to enter at a time. Kuelap was a really impressive site and the best is that there are hardly any tourists up here. This is a big site and we saw only one other tourist when we were there.

Back on the parking lot there was more action with more people and police. We had to move the Patrol a bit down on the side because they were expecting a helicopter??? After a bit of waiting the helicopter arrived and it turned out to be the Peruvian President’s helicopter. Some people came out and walked around, and we are guessing they were there to check out the site before the President was supposed to arrive in two days.

The mummy museum in Leymebamba contains the 150 mummies found at Laguna de los Condores, and they were the last we saw of the Chachapoyas culture before we headed for the coast.

We could easily have spent another week or month in this area exploring more of the sites, but we also know that there is so much more to see in Peru. Next time….


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