Monday, August 09, 2004


Pyramids of Mud

We were once again well culturally stimulated this weekend; we went to the pyramids of Tucume on Saturday. They aren't far from Chiclayo, so we had a lazy breakfast of chicharron (fried pork) with the family before setting off into the rather overcast day. We had a nice drive out, and as we approached Tucume the sun broke through the clouds, which a nice surprise. Upon arrival we were mobbed by a great unwashed mass of children who wanted to sell us toffees, and play with 'mi perita bonita', Wanpi. They were pretty funny, but left a sweaty, sticky residue which completely covered my side of the car! Yuck! Anyway, the site in Tucume dates to about 1000-1540 AD and in its later years was conquered by the Chimu, and then the Inca Empires, before falling to ruins after the Spanish Conquest. The term 'pyramids' is somewhat misleading - they were never pointed like Egyptian pyramids, but rather had flat tops on which temples were built. They were absolutely massive, apparently 130 million sun dried bricks were needed to build the biggest one, which measures 450 metres long, 100 metres wide and 40 metres high. Unfortunately, being adobe structures they have, naturally, substantially eroded. They look a whole lot like 26 very big piles of, erm, mud. The only reason they are still with us at all is because there is virtually no rain at all in this area (note: looks like El Niño is going to change all that, so now is the time to view Peru's ancient adobe structures!). Mud aside, the museum houses some interesting artifacts and a very nice explanation of cooking and chicha (Peru's maize-based traditional beer equivalent) making procedures at the time. I was also muchly gobsmacked to see a life-size replica model of a Moche medicine man kneeling at his altar... it was exactly the same as the one I saw used by the witches (see June archives). So, with a few nods to Catholicism thrown in for good measure, the modern day witches of Peru follow customs that are thousands of years old. Good on them, I say.

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