Before I even begin this post it is worth noting that northern Peru, other than Mancora, is much less visited than places south of Lima. In Chiclayo I was one of very few western tourists, which made it pretty tough to meet other travellers since there simply are very few and meant that the men of Chiclayo found me of great interest. Chiclayo is not a pretty place and I suspect it is a much better reflection of what the ‘real’ Peru looks like. In a country where over half the population sits below the poverty line there is some expectation of cities which do not have any polish to them.
Having said that Chiclayo is not without it’s assets. Located nearby are some beautiful and incredibly important sites of early civilisations, pre dating the Incas. I visited the beautifully curated Labayaque museum which is based in a pyramid shaped building. The whole museum is in darkness except for spotlights on each exhibit. Much of the exhibits on display are jewellry from the excavated king of Sipan’s tomb. I don’t think I have ever seen so much gold in my life! The pyramids of Tucame also handily located nearby were a phenomenal site, nearly 200 hectares of pyramids dotted around the area with the furthest ones away now surrounded by green farmland.
After a couple of days in Chiclayo I took a bus a few hours south to a city called Trujillo. This could not have been more different to Chiclayo. The city is beautiful with brighly coloured and well maintained old colonial buildings and churches. As soon as I arrived I saw other tourists and realised I was back into the different side of Peru. Trujillo is also surrounded by a number of different archaeological sites which I also visited. My assessment of these is that most of them look like incredibly large, and very intricately decorated, sandcastles. I certainly don’t mean this in a diminutive way, I have spent time building sandcastles so I can imagine the work that went into ones that have lasted hundreds of years.
I found people in Trujillo to be incredibly welcoming and friendly. I went on a tour of one of the sites and one family as soon as they realised I was on my own basically adopted me, to the point of the Mum insisting she pay for my entrance ticket! The other great breakthrough I have had is realising that Peru is a place to have deserts. Everything is covered in condensed milk and lemon meringue pie is very big here. Luckily I won’t be hitting the beach any time soon so I’m happily indulging! However, my absolute highlight so far was walking along the street today to be met on the pavement by 2 grown men ‘herding’ a number of ducks and ducklings along the street. I have no idea why, however I did have the foresight to get a photo.