Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Trujillo Revisit

I'm starting today's post from the cockpit of the 09-00 National Express service from Weymouth to London Victoria, and believe it or not I'm navigating.Seems our driver was thrown in at the deep end this morning, having just got a 'draft chit' from London to the south, and instead of doing a familiarisation day he was luffed in for this run due to a sick colleague. Anyway we are getting there. Meeting up with Andy Lindsay about 14-00 there should be more developments later, but for the time being I can report that the arrangements for the impending trip are gathering pace. It is hoped that during my 3 months on the Sub-Continent of South America at least 9 of the countries will be visited but, with the exception of the first 4 weeks plans are still in the melting pot. Having said that, there are a number of objectives such as a re-visit to Galapagos and also to the city of Trujillo, which I would like to fulfil. Arguably the second largest city in Peru, Mike Hughes, my ex-boss, and I spent a most unusual couple of days there in the Spring of 2003. Only a few miles from the border with Ecuador we arrived late in the evening and just took a chance on a nearby hotel. The following morning was sunny, warm and bright so we decided to skip breakfast and head off for an early walk, where at the archetypal colonial City Square, bedecked with palm trees, dotted with statues and surrounded by beautiful buildings, we noticed a brass band practicing at the far side. Worth an investigation,we were intercepted part way by the Tourist Police who were most interested to know where we were from and what we were doing. With nothing sinister afoot we were asked to meet the Chief Inspector, who in turn invited us to be 'Guests of Honour' and take the salute at their Annual Parade. We were obviously curious as to what this would entail but being ex-military types decided this would be a great honour. Indeed it was, as firstly we were introduced to a number of the dignitaries, including the Admiral of the Fleet, 2 Army Generals and a Wing Commander. It was explained that each year the parade is dedicated to a section of the local community, and this was the turn of the cities Women. We were to stand center stage and as the various divisions marched past (starting with the Navy Band and finishing with the Nursery School) we would be expected to salute them from the dias stood next to none other than the President of the Country and his wife. This, we agreed, had to go down as one of the most amazing moments of our lives, and after the parade had passed (about 40 minutes) and formed in the square, El Presedenti and wife were escorted towards 3 massive flag poles where they would hoist the Nations ensign, followed by the Mayor and his lady who did similarly with the County flag. That just left Mike and me to receive a 'sword salute' from the escort guard, follow in the footsteps of our predecessor's and hoist the City banner.It should be explained that each of these ensigns were the size of an articulated lorry and almost needed one to carry them, so we decided that with the aid of our escort we would each put in half the effort to get the flag to the 'truck' (top). From there we were taken to the finery of the City Hall were beneath gigantic chandeliers and overlooked by fine painting, we shook the hands of the afore mentioned dignitaries, and met many of the Cities elder statesmen and women. All of this took place while enjoying some fine wine and cake, after which we were taken to Huaca de Sol, the object of our visit in the first place and given a guided tour.

My plan is to take the photographs below and simply bowl into the Tourist Police Station to see if there is any reaction! Apologies for the poor quality of these images.

Crossing the Ecuador / Peru border

The Guard prepare for march past

'Guests of Honour' marching to the flag pole (note:- the gentleman in the grey suit is the President of Peru with his wife to his right)

Arriving at the flag pole under escort

Mike hoists his half of the city flag

Flag hoisted and secured (note:- while on diplomatic duties, it's always best to wear a 'Stoned Again' T shirt)

The Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun) is an adobe brick temple built by the Moche civilization on the coast of what is now Peru. The temple is one of several ruins found near the peak of Cerro Blanco, in the coastal desert near Trujillo, Peru. The other major ruin at the site is the nearby Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), a better-preserved but smaller temple.

By 450 BC, eight different stages of construction had been completed on the Huaca del Sol. The construction of the temple was additive; new layers of brick were laid directly on top of the old, hence large quantities of bricks were required for its construction. It has been estimated by archaeologists that the Temple was composed of over 130 million adobe bricks and was the largest pre-Colombian adobe structure built in the Americas. The number of different makers' marks on the bricks suggests that over a hundred different communities contributed bricks to the construction of the Huacas.

The whole complex was composed of four main levels and the structure was expanded and rebuilt by different rulers over the course of time. Located at the center of the Moche capital city, archaeological evidence suggests that this temple was used for ritual activity and as a royal residence and burial chambers.

During the Spanish occupation of Peru in the early 17th century, the waters of the Moche River were redirected to run past the Temple base in order to facilitate the recovery of gold artifacts. The creation of this hydraulic mine greatly damaged the Huaca del Sol, and it is estimated that approximately two-thirds of the structure has been lost to erosion and looting. The remaining structure stands at a height of 41 meters (135 feet). It is believed to have originally been about 50 meters in height. Looting and erosion due to El NiƱo continue to be major concerns to this day.

The miracle here must be the way these simple 'mud' designs have survived the savages of more than 2,000 years

Looks like a couple of the original builders