Got to Peru. Tried to log into Facebook. Fail. Someone had hacked it and changed my password. They also got to my Hotmail, Skype and this blog (2019 Edit: This blog used to be hosted on the now defuct Travelpod) which they deleted but yay for Jacques at Travelpod, he restored it all and let me back in so I can continue to deposit my verbal shit on the internet for everyone to glance at and carry on clicking until they find something more interesting like the news. They also tried to get US$200 out of me to get the blog back, changed my FB status to “I HATE South America”, freaked a mate out enough that she was seriously considering calling the embassy and messaged my mrs, pretending to be me and told her I was in serious trouble with the police because the two people I was travelling with got caught with a fuck load of coke on them and no, I don’t mean they were smuggling carbonated tooth decay. All in an effort to get money, of course, and all a load of bollocks.
Aaaaand I discovered that on top of my camera going walkabouts in Baños, US$400 had gone missing from my bag. Must have dug itself out of the bottom of an inside pocket, unzipped two zips and off it went along with the wallet it was in. Meh. It’s not like I wasn’t expecting to get robbed at least once in South America, it’s just when it happens it still fucking sucks. I mean, I didn’t lose my laptop or my iPod, and thankfully I had my cash cards on me. Usually I keep them in the spare wallet I had the stolen cash in. I’ve met people that have had more stolen but my problems are always bigger than everyone else’s coz dammit, they’re mine.
Anyway. Fortunately the backpackers I was at had a well stocked, reasonably priced bar where I drowned my sorrows with the two Germans I was with who were very definitely not international drug smugglers. And I’m sorry, but who on earth would smuggle cocaine into Peru? From what I hear they’re doing a very good job of producing it themselves these days.
So we spent a couple of nights in Máncora, a small desert town complete with cacti next to the beach so me and Jens spent an afternoon body-boarding which is basically floating around on a small board and getting in proper surfers’ ways. I’ve never been particularly good at any kind of board related sport even if I’m not required to stand up and there’s no way you can get out of a surfer’s way quickly when you have the coordination of a jam sandwich so I resorted to closing my eyes and hoping they knew how to steer. Well I caught one wave and that made me happy so I left the water with my face intact. Anyway, not much else happens here to be honest. It’s a hard old life of beach, playing darts and Uno and sipping 2 for 1 vodka and cokes by the pool. I don’t know how I cope. It’d probably be another place I wouldn’t want to leave if I didn’t have a big hill to walk up on the 4th October.
On account of the fact my funds had been severely depleted I was now on a budget which meant a stay at a hotel in Trujillo with rooms which resembled a prison cell. Fitting really, since that’s where I was meant to be according to whoever hacked my Faceache account. Jasmina is studying in Trujillo so she has her own place and Jens reluctantly shared a room with me. He wanted to stay somewhere that, I don’t know, didn’t look like we might get shanked. We hoped the walls wouldn’t collapse on us, and we wouldn’t be expecting room service any time soon then.
We were here to check out Chan Chan, the ruins of a city belonging to the Chimú culture who were knocking around from 850 AD until the Incas whooped their arses around 1470 AD. It’s meant to be the biggest adobe city in the world, adobe being mud bricks from which they built their structures around that time. No bloody wonder it’s ruined now then. You can’t get down to the cool stuff to take decent photos which sucks but hey. I guess we should have hired a guide to get more out of it but if I hired a guide for everywhere I went I’d be bankrupt in no time and you can find your way around easily enough by following the fish. Fish were pretty important to the Chimú people, as was the sea which they called Ni, but their main deity was the moon, Si. They were one of those cultures that enjoyed a bit of 5 year old child sacrifice before putting their feet up in front of Coronation Street with a cup of tea and a take-away. Remember people, never shake a baby. But tying it up and cutting its throat? Well you can’t argue with ancient tradition.
Included in the price of entry to Chan Chan is entry to Huaca Esmeralda and Huaca Arco Iris, huaca meaning temple or shrine, both Chimú sites as well. Well, we’d paid for them so off we went to Huaca Esmeralda which isn’t that impressive to be honest but the weird thing is is the location. Whilst Chan Chan is surrounded by dust and sand, Huaca Esmeralda is right in the middle of a barrio. You can stand on the top of this structure dating back to the 1300’s and watch locals play a game of footy, hang their laundry, generally go about their everyday lives. Huaca Arco Iris is slightly better preserved and again, it’s set right in the suburbs in a neighbourhood where every house advertises ownership of a firearm, just in case you were thinking of paying a visit in the dead of night through a window sporting the latest in balaclava fashion. Nice.
One thing that’ll stand out on any visit to these sites is the abundance of viringos. Peruvian hairless dogs. The first reaction is to think, what the fuck is wrong with that dog? The second reaction is to look around for the ugly tree it just fell out of in case it was about to fall over and finish the job. I don’t know much about them, they feel warmer to the touch than dogs with hair and I know they’re traditionally used to ease arthritic pain, like a big, drooly, dog-shaped heat pad, and when you fuss them you don’t come away covered in hair or smelling like greasy dog.
They’re, like, the perfect pet, really. Or they would be if they didn’t eat or need walking… Maybe I’ll just get a pet heat pad. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about it humping the neighbour’s leg. But I think they’re fabulous, they’re so friendly and affectionate. They’d have to be really, anything that’s had that much of a severe beating with the ugly stick needs to make up for it with personality.
Máncora & Trujillo, Peru
Stayed at: Hostel Kokopelli in Máncora (2019 Update: Their Máncora branch appears to be permanently closed) & Hostal Lima in Trujillo