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Trujillo, Peru

Hi, all you members of Nina’s Fan Club.  This is the Neener’s other (though not necessarily better) half filling in for the Neener tonight because the dear girl hasn’t been feeling well since last night.  So today she basically stayed inside except to post her blog about our experiences yesterday (Friday) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Tomorrow (Sunday) she will probably post this as well as the portion of her blog that didn’t upload today, our “adventures” this past Thursday in Manta Ecuador, the Tuna Capital of the World. (If somewhere’s got to be the Tuna Capital of the World, why not Manta?)

As it happens today I escorted a tour group from the ship into the city of Trujillo, Peru.  Trujillo has the distinction of being the Asparagus Capital of the World (both green and white asparagus), although today we didn’t see any except on our dinner plates this evening on board.. The tour left Salaverry, the port of Trujillo, and took us to the center of the city of Trujillo, the second largest city (after Lima) in Peru. 

Trujillo was built by Fernando Pisarro, the Spanish conquistador who conquered the Incas.  He named it after the Spanish city of his birth.  Every colonial town built by the Spanish in the New World was laid out the same in the city center: a central square with a church or cathedral on the square (the yellow church in the picture) and a government administration building (the blue building next to the church in this case). Whe.her it’s called a Plaza de Armas in Latin America or a Zocalo in Mexico, it amounts to the same thing, I think

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Today throughout South America you find large statues in the center of these parks.  The statues generally commemorate Simon Bolivar, the Great Liberator or South America, or others who played a major role in the liberation of South American nations from Spain.

The Incas and other pre-Columbian civilizations, who were living here for several thousand years before the Spaniards showed up, built their building out of adobe mud bricks.  Very similar to the biblical story of Israelites making bricks in Egypt, except the Incas didn’t mix the brick with straw. Almost all buildings around the center square are only one story because the area has had earthquakes (the last big one in 1970) that have destroyed the original buildings.  But in the interests of preserving the colonial architectural look, they rebuild with adobe downtown (guess they never heard of building safety codes!)..

Off the main square (“behind” the above panorama) we next visited a former Spanish colonial residence, now owned by a bank.  You go through a set of HUGE carved wooden double doors

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and enter a Spanish colonial house where all the furnishings were imported from Europe as a display of the owner’s wealth.

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From the center of Trujillo we all got back on the bus and drove to the Huaca de la Luna, the Temple of the Moon.  It is part of a complex of buildings that includes the remains of a large mud pyramid

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and a complex that includes the Huaca del Sol, the Temple of the Sun (the largest single adobe structure in the world – closed to the public at this time for archeological work) and the Temple of the Moon. As you climb up to the Temple of the Moon the view looks similar to the Giza Plateau from the Egyptian Pyramids and looks like this (remains of the adobe pyramid are in the upper right

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and here, in another view, remains of the pyramid are in the center):

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The adobe mud pyramid and the Temples were built by the Moche people, a nation that preceded the Incas and that was eventually conquered by them.  As we entered the grounds of the Temple of the Moon we were met by its laid-back guardian, a breed of dog that goes back a couple thousand years – a HAIRLESS Peruvian dog (hairless except for the bouffant):

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The Moche people practiced human sacrifice to their mountain gods, who in their tradition lived on the sacred mountain called Cerro Blanco – White Mountain.

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And no, I have no idea why they called it WHITE Mountain, so don’t ask !

Anyways, next to the mountain the Moche people built their Temple of the Moon, where they worshipped a bunch of different mountain gods who lived on Cerro Blanco and who the Moche people saw as responsible for bringing and ending the rains in their due seasons.  This area is a desert next to an ocean (the Pacific), and the only fresh water is what runs down from the Andes, so rain was very important in the Moche culture. At first the prayers and human sacrifices to the gods for rain seemed to be working out well for them, but as time went on, not so much…

After experiencing great hardships caused by a number of successive years of drought, the Moche people thought that their religious priests had lost a lot of their influence with the gods – so they killed the priests.  Talk about killing the messenger because of the message……

Over a period spanning hundreds of years the Moche people built successive layer upon layer of Temple worship areas, and today there are portions of the Temple of the Moon that are 5 levels deep, which is probably something like 8 stories high.  In the most excavated portion of the archeological digs, only the top 3 levels have been excavated.

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The most sacred parts of the Temple of the Moon were accessible only to the priests, the lords, the royalty and to those about to be offered as human sacrifices, There the adobe mud walls are decorated with designs that are painted and carved into the dry adobe walls.  Some of them are quite interesting and amazingly well preserved considering their age.

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My dentist would love these guys as patients……

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None of the pre-Columbian peoples left behind an alphabet, nor did they know about the wheel. Archeologists know about their lives mainly from the contents of their graves.  Like the Egyptians, pre-Columbian people loaded their graves with stuff for the “next world”.  This included clothing.  A Moche warrior’s usual dress would have looked like those in the photo, except that these clothes have painted designs while the original Moche textiles were woven.  These warriors are carrying shell and ceramic musical horns.

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The Moche people were obviously very attuned to nature, and they reflected this in their decoration of the Temple of the Moon.  One of the walls in the Temple depicts many of the local plants, animals and sea life that was part of the Moche day-to-day.  Here is a photo of one of these decorative walls and a close up of a part of the same wall:

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The Ceremonial Plaza, where the main rituals of the Moche people were carried out (including the human sacrifice rituals),  was decorated with painted walls that reminded me of the Egyptian wall paintings – rows of themes painted one higher than the other.  In the Moche decorations you can see a row of prisoners with ropes around their necks being paraded or led by their captors (who are outside the photo),

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the victory dance of the winner warriors in their ceremonial headgear (Hava Nagila anyone?)

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and the spider that devours its conquered prey

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along with a few other beasties, like a slinking serpent, and when you put them all together you get this

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As we finally left the Temple of the Moon, I had two thoughts.  First, this visit made me recognize and appreciate once again the fantastic job Israeli archeologists and the Israeli Department of Antiquities does, in presenting Israeli archeological findings to the general public in clear, well thought-out and well laid-out, innovative ways.  Honestly, these mud ruins were like a proverbial box of rocks, and even though there were bilingual explanations offered, they did not seem to link everything together into a coherent, cohesive picture.  I have seen archeological digs in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, India, France, Ireland and other places, but nobody seems to be better at making sites user-friendly and understandable than the Israelis.

Second, it seemed that in the rural areas surrounding the Temple, the more things changed the more they remained the same.  The descendants of these people and of their conquerors still farm, they still live off the land, and they still depend on the run-off waters of the Andes rain and snow for good harvests.

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They still build out of adobe mud brick

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and they still paint that adobe brick as decoration.

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As we drove back at the end of our trip through the city of Trujillo, the contrast between economically better-off neighborhoods

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and those of the poor

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told a familiar story in the developing world – the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is glaring and immediately obvious. 

Tomorrow we are going to be in Lima, and if she is feeling OK, the Neener will be ESCORTING a 4-hour SHOPPING trip to art, arts and crafts, textile and silver-and-gold markets. I’m sure she’ll blog about this and that you’ll all enjoy it. 

Hi it’s NINA and it’s January 24, 2012 a Tuesday and we are in Santiago Chile now.. We haven’t had an opportunity to post anything at all for days because the ships internet was screwy and the internet cafes until now have used the oldest equipment I have ever seen in decades and doesn’t have the software to post pix..

Some things will be out of order, but I don’t think it matters much…

We will post a bunch at every opportunity.. and since Kal seems to be enjoying posting too, it might become a mix of both of us!!!

.

 

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