Salaverry, Peru

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Salaverry, La Libertad, Peru
Tues, Oct 10 – Salaverry, Peru is the port closest to Trujillo, the nation’s second-largest city, along the Andean foothills. Today much of its colonial charm is  retained in its old churches, balconied homes and courtyards with overhanging flowering baskets.  It is located on the banks of the Moche River, near its mouth at the Pacific Ocean, in the Moche Valley. This was a site of the great prehistoric Moche and Chimu cultures before the Inca conquest and subsequent expansion.  
The economy of Peru is much better today than it was in the 1980s.  They were having major difficulties and pulled themselves out of it in the 1990s, but they still  struggled until the early 2000s.  We were told that the economy today is very strong and based mainly in the mining of gold and silver; second is agriculture, with tons of fruits and vegetables (especially artichokes - which they have no idea how to eat, so they export them) and lastly tourism.
Trujillo is close to several archeological sites of pre-Columbian monuments: El Brujo, Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the ancient world, and the temples of the Sun and Moon (the largest adobe pyramid in Peru).  Several ancient cultures developed in this area: the Cupisnique, the Moche and Chimu. The archaeological sites and monumental remains attest to the high degree of complexity of these civilizations.  
Our tour mainly consisted of the history of the Moche.  Moche history is broadly divided into three periods – the emergence of the Moche culture in the Early Moche (AD 100–300), its expansion and florescence during the Middle Moche (300–600), and the urban nucleation and subsequent collapse in the Late Moche (500–750). Moche society was agriculture-based, and the cultural leaders invested in the construction of a network of irrigation canals for the diversion of river water to supply the crops. Their culture was sophisticated; and their artifacts fully express their lives, including scenes of hunting, fishing, fighting, sacrifice, elaborate ceremonies, and sexual acts.
The tour we took was Archeological Trujillo.  This was an amazing tour.  Our first stop was about an hour out of the City and it was to the Temple El Brujo (which is translated as The Sorcerer).  It was built by the Moche sometime between CE (remember BCE is before current era and CE is current era) 1 and 600. It is famous for its reliefs and murals, and most importantly the discovery of the Goddess Cao whose remains are currently the earliest evidence for a female ruler in Peru.  Her grave was only discovered because some grave robbers were attempting to rob it, discovered what they were seeing and called the Government to let them know - honest thieves!   She is probably the most amazing find in decades, and it has been proven that she was the ruler (goddess), which made this even more amazing.  Her skeleton is in great shape, unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures and were not given any time to go into the museum store to buy some postcards.
The temple in which she was found it at the lower level and there are many more levels above her.  When a temple is built it is for the god/ruler; he and his family spend their lives in this temple/home and when he dies he is buried in the temple.  The surviving family is moved out.  The next ruler has the previous temple covered with bricks, which are made by everyone in the community and each brick has its "crest" for lack of the correct word, placed on their bricks.  The newtemple is built directly on top of old, but maybe a foot or so in from the outer edge of the previous temple.  For each new ruler this process is continued until the temples end of looking like what we know as a pyramid.
Our next stop is back towards the City and to the site of Chan Chan.    The Chimu culture built its primary settlement at Chan Chan, which was the capital, having an estimated 100,000 people at its peak. It is the largest pre-Columbian city built of adobe.  We were told that they believe the heart of this place was more of an administration center (picture your local city hall) with homes being built around it.  The portion that has been excavated is the heart of the center.  The outskirts would have contained the homes.  It is thought that at one time about 12,000 artisans lived and worked in Chan Chan. They were forbidden to change their profession, and were grouped together in the center according to their area of specialization. There is evidence of both metalwork (generally a male specialty) and weaving (a female art) in the same domestic dwelling, it is likely that both men and women were artisans.  
Our last stop is the site of the Temples to the Sun and Moon (Huaca del Sol  and Huaca de la Luna). The Mochicas built them during the Moche period, over 700 years before Chan Chan. These two temples are pyramid in shape and only a quarter mile apart; however the Temple of the Sun ( Huaca del Sol) is extremely fragile and still being excavated so we only saw it from a distance.  It is said that the Temple of the Sun is the largest mud structure on the South American continent.  The Temple of the Moon (Huaca de La Luna)  has over 50 million adobe bricks, The desert climate has enabled these mud structures to last for hundreds of years. The Mochicas abandoned Temple of the Sun after a large flood in 560 CE but continued to occupy the space at the Temple of the Moon until about 800 CE.   Although the two temples have been looted and are somewhat eroded, they are still fascinating.
The Moche civilization flourished during this time (100 to 800 CE).  The people are noted for their elaborately-painted ceramics, gold work, monumental constructions (temples), mosaics and irrigation systems.  We were very impressed with the expansiveness of this temple.  It is probably by far the most awesome temple we have seen, and the mosaics are several stories high, and are still very, very visible. 
The largest disappointment in this tour was that we had so much to see and only eight hours to see it all in.  We never got to go into the museums that are attached to each of the sights to see what the archaeologists had dug up.  So although we had been told about the metal works, weaving and pottery, we have no pictures or any idea of what they actually look like; just wish we had had more time.  Although our tour guide has us moving rapidly from site to site, we still were late getting back to our ship.  Even though we didn't get to any museums, I guess we dallied a little too long as we were the last tour to arrive that day. 
Arriving late - that is one of the benefits of paying the price for a shore excursion through the cruise ship.  We arrived late, but the ship was still there waiting for us.  If we had booked through a private company, not through the ship, then there is no guarantee that the ship would still be waiting for you if you return too late.  This did happen to a person on the ship - she was later than us, but after several calls for her and no response we left.  We never did find out if she caught up with us or not.
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2019-10-19