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Chiclayo |

After dragging ourselves away from the partying and sun in Mancora we made our way south to Chiclayo which is 6 hours south of Mancora. Why did we come here? Well, I had heard that it had a great witchcraft market so we decided to pay it a visit.

It hit me straight away that we were two of the few tourists that this town had. Great! Our first introduction to their friendly nature was by having lunch in a locals restaurant. Now we are not talking about a space with the best interior design. The complete opposite but what an experience. We had the best cerviche ever here with seaweed as well. Yum, then a seafood rice dish. So fresh and all for about 60 cents. The staff were all questions and wanted our email addresses. This was the first of many occasions where this happened over the next few days. We think that it must be a great thing to have Gringas (foreign white people) email address´s. Quite bizarre!

We next explored the market. It was huge and sold anything you could thing of. It was so big that it took us ages to find the Witchcraft section. Each stall was run by a herbal doctor or shaman. They had all sorts of potions and herbs, exotic objects and folk charms. I wish I could have understood what they were for. The market was quite a funny experience. I would say in the space of one hour we were asked where we came from (even though no one really knows where Ireland is when we tell them), how beautiful we were etc at least 100 times. Adults would giggle as they would shout hello, hello in english at us.. Really funny.

We were told that Chiclayo´s surrounding area had some interesting archeological sights of interest so we booked the only tour we could find. Eimear and I, a guide and a driver. It just shows how few tourists come here and miss this great opportunity.

Our first visit was to Sican which was from 750 - 1375 ad, just pre-Inca times. Basically because the climate is much drier here than in Cuzco, people built mud buildings and tombs in comparison to the stone structures on the Inca Trail. These people were so talented that they were able to transform mud into mud tomb pyramids. They were also great potters, using closed kilns, therefore all pottery is black instead of the usual terracotta colours. The locals have found two tombs at Hacha Loro pyramid at Sican. The tombs were only used for noble buriels. What unusual burials. One lord was buried upside down with his head cut off so that it would face to the West with a magnificent gold mask to cover the face.Is mask had the eyes in the shapes of wings with enlarged and pointed ears. This was the style of the Sican period.
He was surrounded by so many offerings for the next life - gold and bronze and shells. If that wasn't enough, two women and two children were privileged to be sacrificed and buried with him! Very obedient if you ask me! They would be poisoned with Sao Paulo drink from a cactus plant before they were killed.....

The other tomb had a noble who wasn't as rich so hadn't as much gold and bronze offerings but had 22 women and one child sacrificed and buried with him. Does that make sense to you?
What an unusual culture. It's thought that their civilisation ended with a really bad El Nino. El Ninos take place here every year from December but most years its just a little rain but it has had catastrophic effects other years. Just as well I am not here in December. I don't want to tempt fate....

After getting over the relief of being born now and not then as a woman, we drove to Tucume. This is a valley of dry arid ground with 26 mud pyramids dotted around it. Now I know you are probably thinking of Egypt. Well because these are made of mud their exterior shape are worn a little due to all the years of rain. We still got a feel for the place. No tourists here again... The pyramids were used for not one but three civilisations. The pyramids had therefore different levels. The first being built during the Sican period (750 - 1375), the second by the Chimu period (900 - 1470) which followed the Sican period and finally the third by the Incas (from 1470) . The difference here to Egypt also is that Nobles used to live in them as well as using them as burial tombs. They were used for a number of administrative, political, social and religious purposes.

Now these pyramids are big, one being 700m long and 280m wide and 30m high. Its weird to visit walk amongst some of these pyramids and feel that you are one of the few tourists that get an opportunity to see them. Its such a shame though as well that I think only 2 or 3 of the 26 have been fully excavated due to lack of funds in Peru. Excavation work only began here in 1988. We just came across this problem over and over again.
We next headed off to our last historical destination for today. Sipan. We were really getting into the civilisations at this stage. Basically, alot of the Inca ideas came from these pre Inca civilisations. They were so advanced.

Sipan had thirteen pyramids for us to check out from the Moche period 100Bc to 1000AD so this civilisation existed for a long time prior to the Sican, Chimu and Inca periods. The most famous is the Lord of Sipan. Now what a tomb this was. This guy was rich. He was laid out flat with a beautiful gold mask with turquoise stones in the ear positions. He then had an intricate shell necklace, then, a bronze uniform amongst other items of dress. He was buried with so many ceramic pots and each one would have been filled with chicha which is a maize drink. If this was in Ireland, I wonder would whiskey be added to the pots?

Anyway, never mind all the gold bits and bobs with him, he of course was buried with his wife, two concubines,a child, a dog and llama,all for company. Then to top it off he had a guard sacrificed too whose feet were cut off in case spiritually he would try to escape and not protect the lord and his tomb in the after life!

Really interesting to see! Its hard to believe that little is heard about these ancient civilisations.. What a great day but I must say my brain was fried by the end but what an interesting day.

History lesson over for now!

Locations Visited: Chiclayo

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