We had decided to head for Huanchaco, a seaside village near to the town of Trujillo and the ruins of Chan Chan and the temples of the sun and the moon, amongst others. This was a long drive of 350 miles along the Pan-American highway, and took us through miles and miles of barren desert which hugs the Pacific coast. We got to Huanchaco in the dark (something we try and avoid) as we had stopped to buy groceries and had been stopped twice by the police. The first police officer wanted to check our papers. The second wasn`t interested in our papers, he wanted to find out where we were from etc and whether we had " a small gift from England" for him! We gave him one of Ruby`s cards and he seemed happy enough and on we went!
We had a lovely few days in Huanchaco. We wandered into the little village which is a famous for its fishing boats made from reeds. The fishermen paddle and surf these neatly crafted boats like seafaring cowboys, with their legs dangling on either side – which explains the nickname given to these elegantly curving boats, caballitos de tortora (little horses). The inhabitants of Huanchaco are among the few remaining people on the coast who remember how to construct and use the boats, each one only lasting a few months before becoming waterlogged. The fishermen paddle out as far as a mile, but can only bring in limited catches because of the size of their vessels (which now also integrate styrofoam for bouyancy). We wandered down to the end of the pier and watched the locals fish from lines off the pier. It is also a popular place for surfers because there are some superb waves.
We visited the ruins of Chan Chan where we saw our first hairless Peruvian dog ! Built around AD 1300 and covering 20 sq km, Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas, and the largest adobe city in the world. Although it must have been a dazzling sight at one time, devastating El Niño floods and heavy rainfall have severely eroded much of the outer portions of the city. We visited the impressive restored Tschudi complex and the broad plazas, royal burial chamber and intricate designs that remain.
We also visited the Huaca de la Sol y Luna (temples of the Sun and Moon) which were constructed from millions of handmade adobe bricks, by the Moche people between about 200 and 850 AD. Successive generations added new platforms on top of the existing structures, so that each one grew higher and higher. Archeologists believe that the Huaca del Sol may have served for administrative, military, and residential functions, as well as a burial mound for the Moche elite. The Huaca de la Luna served primarily a ceremonial and religious function, though it contained burials as well.
We then had a spectacular drive to reach Laguna Paron The dirt road to the laguna has multiple hair pin turns and is through a spectacular canyon with 1000m high granite walls. The laguna is at 4,200 metres and was simply breathtaking .The colour of the water was turquoise blue and the surrounded mountains were just spectacular. One of the mountains, Artesonraju is the mountain depicted in the live-action Paramount Pictures logo. We walked around part of the Laguna and then wild camped on its shore. This was our favourite wild camp yet as the views were so spectacular, and we were camping directly in front of the laguna and mountains. The next day we packed up ready for the winding drive down the mountains. We set off. Then "CLUNK"! Oh no, not again, we thought! Gav checked the source of the problem and we found that one of our shock absorbers had worked itself loose and we did not have the bits to mend it. We decided to head towards a recommended mechanic in Caraz, Willy, so slowly made our way down the steep windy slopes. Clunk, clunk clunk and then Gav yelled "Jen-there`s smoke coming from between your legs"!!! We both leapt out and realized that the handbrake had been partially on for the drive down and had overheated-causing smoke from the handbrake drum. With the engine off, we managed to free wheel for the next 5 miles down the mountain and made it to Willy`s, the mechanics, a couple of miles later! He sorted out the shock absorber and we also had the UJs changed whilst we were there and the handbrake drum checked.
We headed to Huaraz the following day for a overnight stop and camped in the grounds of a hotel which had llamas grazing in its grounds. The next morning, I returned from my shower and Gav showed me the landy wheel which was wet and said" I think a llama has pissed on Ruby!" Only in Peru!