Visiting The Moche

Huaca Del Sol. It’s a big pile of adobe bricks and sand, they haven’t started digging it up properly yet. Huaca De La Luna. Now that’s worth a look. I wasn’t going to bother but I had free time and Jasmina was keen to check it out so we headed over with her mate from Trujillo, Antonio. This one is old, older than Chan Chan and belongs to the Moche culture. I think the Chimú were sort of descendants of the Moche, I’m not sure because it wasn’t clear, but I think their pottery is similar and they started to disappear not long before the Chimú rocked up.

The un-excavated site. I’d love to come back in ten years to see how it’s looking.

So the Huaca De La Luna served as a temple and the Huaca Del Sol they now think was more of an administrative centre and not a huaca. And here’s the cool thing about Huaca De La Luna; It’s built in layers. Every 100 years they closed off the existing layer and built a new one around it, the next layer being bigger than the one below and the gaps filled in with adobe bricks provided by the local families as like a tax. They’d all make a heap of bricks then mark one of them to distinguish their set of bricks from the rest and this is how the whole temple was built. Then the walls were painted in vivid reds, yellows, blacks and whites with paints made from minerals. Because of the way the layers were built, whilst it would have looked like a standard pyramid from the outside (not anymore thanks to the elements), the inside, if you were to cut it into a cross section, looked like an upside-down pyramid.

Examples of the bricks made by the local families as a sort of tax. The markings are unique to each family.

And the coolest thing? Thanks to the layers being closed off and built on, the carvings and the colours are almost perfectly preserved. They’re still excavating both huacas and the city that lay between them which is completely underground these days. It’s an evolving site, you could go back every couple of years and see something different and everything you see is unrestored. Because the pyramid is so well preserved, archaeologists know heaps about the culture. They know that in order to decide who was sacrificed, two men would fight one on one and the loser would be sacrificed and this is depicted in the paintings on the walls of the layer that we saw, and unlike the later Chimú culture that worshiped the moon, the Moche worshiped Ai Apaec which means maker or creator.

These pigments haven’t been restored, they’re just that well preserved.

Aaaaanyway, that was me all cultured out for a while. I’d moved to Huanchaco, the beach town close to Trujillo so I headed back there fully intending to get a fisherman to take me out on one of the cool reed boats they’ve been using for 2000 years. Not the same boats. Obviously. They only last a couple of months. However, the water here is fucking cold so I passed on that and settled for watching them paddle out and surf back in with their catch. Rather you than me, mate. Huanchaco has its fair share of surfers an’ all. I think surfers are born without certain nerve endings thus enabling them to withstand sub-zero temperatures whilst they bob around in the water waiting for a wave. I also think they’re mental. There’s even surf shops here, I got stopped a couple of times and asked if I wanted to surf.

They’ve been using these kind of boats for a couple of millennia. They look brilliant but I kinda feel like they’d capsize pretty easily.

Do I want to surf?? Do I look like I want to fucking surf?! I’m walking down the road rugged up in two jumpers, hands stuffed into my pockets, hood up, warm hat on and a sarong wrapped around my neck covering half my face because I’m scared of losing the end of my nose to frostbite. No, I don’t want to squeeze myself into a damp wetsuit that someone has probably pissed in at some point or other and take to the water brandishing a board that’s more likely to get caught in a wave and smack me round the side of the head than actually carry me to shore as I stand atop it, goofy stance perfected, to applause and roars of adulation from the watching hoards. What I want is gas central heating and a shower that doesn’t go cold when you’re least expecting it and doesn’t have a tendency to give you a mild electric shock if you get too close to it. I didn’t spend long in Huanchaco. I’m sure it’s a gorgeous place but I was too busy trying not to freeze to death to notice.

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Huanchaco, Peru
Stayed at: Chill Out

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