As I previously mentioned, instead of staying in Chavin we decided to go straight to Trujillo. We got in around 4:30 am on Monday morning; rather than mess with a CouchSurfer, we just checked into a hostel that Caro’s guide book had recommended. That was the best thing that we could have done. Due to the harrowing weekend that we had had before, I found myself at the end of my rope by Monday morning. I was this close to changing my plane ticket and returning that very day. But we were able to rest in the hostel, take it easy for a few days, and by Tuesday or Wednesday I was feeling worlds better. I’m sure that the shower – my first in 5 days – also helped enormously :).
So Monday was a pretty low-key day, basically just recuperating from the weekend. I spent a lot of time in the main square of Trujillo (which is absolutely lovely – definitely my favorite city yet), just writing, taking pictures, and talking to people. People say I look Hispanic, but I still think I stick out like a sore thumb – I’m constantly having people coming up to me trying to sell me something or ask where I’m from. This can get pretty annoying at times, but it also is an excellent way to meet people, if you choose to look at it that way.
That is, at least, how I chose to look at it, and I really did get the opportunity to meet quite a few interesting characters. I met César, the indigenous man who was admirably persistent in trying to sell a tour to me. At first I didn’t mind talking to him, because he was keeping his distance; but over the course of the afternoon he kept coming back and getting closer and closer. When he tried to give me a kiss on the cheek even though I was obviously and quickly walking away from him was around the time that I left the plaza for the afternoon.
But not all of the people I met left a bad taste in my mouth like César did. Take Israel, for example, a cop who was stationed in the plaza that afternoon. I’m not really sure why there were so many policemen there – there was no threat of violence or unrest. Poor Israel looked so bored, I think he was just looking for an interesting distraction. But he was very nice, and more than happy to show me where to exchange money, or find cheap artisan shops, or recommend good restaurants, or just tell me a little bit about himself. I really enjoyed talking with Israel.
I met George because he was, not surprisingly, trying to sell me something. When I made it clear that I wasn’t interested, he decided to just sit down and tell me the whole history of Peru, Trujillo, and the central plaza de armas. I suspect that he was doing it because he wanted a tip, but it was still a fascinating story. My favorite part was his description of the symbolism that the fountain in the main plaza has. The central figure is a youth holding a torch that symbolizes liberty. Around this youth, there are other figures that represent the stages of liberty – first, the oppression of the indigenous people, second, the fight to break the chains of slavery, and finally freedom in the end. In between those figures, there were also smaller ones that represented the great things of Peru, such as education and its beauty. It was really quite an impressive fountain. I love symbolism.
Monday was a much-needed day of rest, and also a reminder to me of what I love about traveling – connecting with people. But by Tuesday Caro and I were back on our whirlwind sightseeing tour. We went to two different sights on Tuesday, called Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo. They were both incredible. Constructed thousands of years ago, even before the period of the Incans, and made from simple adobe mud bricks, it’s truly amazing to me how much of these structures are still standing. The same goes for the 200 kilometer square complex of Chan Chan, which we saw the next day. Although we took tours to Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo because they were obligatory, we went on our own to Chan Chan, and spent hours wandering the complex ruins. The site itself was very impressive, but the area around it was rather strange, actually, and we spent a long time wandering the marked paths around the ruins looking for the museum that was supposedly right around the corner. But we never found it – all of the paths just led to dead ends, so eventually we gave up and headed back into town (maybe it’s a marketing ploy to try to get you to buy a tour – only the tour guides know how to get to the museum! Hehehe…)
It was with great sadness that we left Trujillo on Thursday morning. Trujillo was by far my favorite city yet. The plaza (and city in general) was lovely, the people were friendly, and I even got to go dancing on Tuesday night! If I ever go back to Peru, Trujillo is definitely going to be one of the places that I visit. Maybe by plane this time, to avoid all of the time in buses :).