I am Waiting for the Pictures: Memories From Chan Chan

Upon my arrival at the entry point to the vast Chan Chan ruins along Peru’s northern coast, a guide was trying to sell me a tour.  He wanted 50 soles or $18.73.  I wasn’t sure how to respond.

Ah.  Guided Tour.  Señor.  Muchas gracias.  Muy amable.  But I really prefer to see the ruins on my own.”

I was being totally honest.  I thought:  I like to drift solo and not with a guide if I can help it.

But it’s only 50 solcitos.”

I thought: 50 soles or 50 small soles.  What’s the difference?  This is an absurdly blatant sales ployThen again, this is Perú where it’s perfectly normal to use the diminutive for anything and everything.

Out of the blue, another guide appeared.  He was with another tourist.

She wants to take the tour but thinks 50 is too much.  She’ll split it with you.  Just 25 solcitos each.”

We looked at each other.  She was also told that I wanted to split the tour with her. The pressure was on both of us until we figured out that the guides were mildly hustling us.

Wait.  I don’t want a tour.”

Me neither.”

I gently apologized to the guides as I knew it was their bread and butter.

I said to my new friend:

I just like to go at my own relaxed pace and snap photos as I please.  On top of that I spend less.

Mariela paid 10 soles or $3.81 while my entree fee was cut in half.  Because I have an old student ID that I carry around, it sometimes saves me a couple of bucks here and there.  If it’s any consolation, I’m still paying student loans.

A day later I spoke to a tourist where I was staying at Casa de Clara in Trujillo.  He said that he had purchased the tour for 75 soles or $27.81.  The German rambled on about how it was an awful deal, because the guide barely explained anything while rushing him around the ruins.  While listening, I thought:  This is one reason why I like to go solo.

Just into our walk, my new Chilean friend realized that the battery of her I-phone was dead.  That meant no photo taking for her.  I assured her that I’d share the pictures.  In no time, my camera’s battery was shot.

Fortunately I had my back up.  It’s the old camera that hasn’t had a working flash since it was dropped in Panama almost a year ago.  I’ve since developed the habit of taking it as a backup during the day.  We were in luck.

While walking around the vast ancient labyrinth of Chan Chan, in the hot and dry, coastal desert sun, I thought: This is my idea of a good time.

We had a great day checking out the ruins.  We took a taxi to the museum that accompanied this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We also walked and bussed it to two other much smaller ruins around Trujillo.  My partner in exploration knew about them, as she happened to be in Peru primarily because of her love for ancient history.

It was also the second day of her trip and her first time out of Chile.  So her spark managed to boost my level of enthusiasm.

After that day, we exchanged an email or two about potentially meeting up in Lima.  I was also told to relax about getting her the pictures, as she wouldn’t be checking them out until after she got back home anyway.

As I’ve been focused on the present moment while on the move a lot, I put Chan Chan on the back burner and hadn’t checked out the photos since moving them off the camera about a month ago.

Recently, I got an email from the girl who’s fascinated with ancient civilizations:

How are you?   I didn’t call because I wasn’t able to stay in Lima 😦   My flight was very  early in the morning.   Are you still in Lima?    I am back at work now.  Everything is good here but I miss Perú a lot.   I got a cold in Machu Pichu and I am taking a lot of pills to be healthy soon.  I am waiting for the pictures.  Kisses

My first thought was: Which cloud medium will I use to share the pics? Because of compromised internet connections, I didn’t like that idea.  So it hit me.  I’ll turn the photographs into a Chan Chan post.  Here are some more photos from Chan Chan:

Don’t forget to click on a pic if you’d like to see a larger version.  Click on it twice for a maxed-out view.


Adobe ambience

An elongated ancient wall

Wall sprawl

Remnants of over a millennium ago

A little lookout point

The Chileña transporting herself through time

Strolling through a hot adobe labyrinth

Depiction of the Pre Incan Moche people.  This photo is from the Museum at Chan Chan.  Many may disagree, but I much prefer this to seeing a Brad Pitt replica at an  overpriced wax museum in the United States.

Faded petroglyphs

Ancient style of decoration

Elaborate wall carvings

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Chan Chan Tidbits

●  At 20km2, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is where the largest pre Columbian city in South America stood.

●  The adobe city was built by the Chimu people around the year 850.  It lasted until it was conquered by the Incas around 1470.

●  According to Wikipedia:

Chan Chan was discovered by the Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro. Chan Chan is a triangular city surrounded by walls 50–60 feet high. A distinguishable aspect of Chan Chan is that there are no enclosures which open to the north. The tallest walls shelter against south-westerly winds from Peru’s coast. Northern-facing walls gain the greatest exposure to the sun, serving both to block the wind and absorb sunlight where fog is frequent. The numerous walls throughout the city create a labyrinth of passages.

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Are you interested in Ancient civilizations?  Have you visited any or do you plan to?  Feel free to comment below.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Al on May 25, 2012 at 18:16

    Nice photos, good thing you had that backup camera!


  2. Posted by Mamma on May 24, 2012 at 22:00

    Very interesting. Thanks!


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