After the excitement of crossing the border we still had about 4 hours left to reach our destination of Piura. At first it didn't really feel like we'd entered another country because everything looked the same. Then suddenly we emerged from the forests of the Andean lowlands to a flat, barren desert speckled with dry brush and clusters of dusty brown shanty-towns. A stark contrast from the lush mountainsides we'd grown accustomed to seeing every day. Our first impressions of Piura were dominated by the nostril-searing heat and the obnoxious, incessant honking of car horns. This was a whole new level of honking noise, fraught with novelty horns belching a myriad of tunes, whistles, and melodies. By far the worst offenders are taxis and combis but private vehicles are not totally innocent. The latter are often left screeching car alarms to apathetic passersby while their owners are somewhere out of earshot or so desensitized to the sound they don't even bother to silence the alarm.
To be frank, we didn't like Piura and were looking forward to getting away as soon as possible (I suppose that's why there are no photos of our time there... that and it felt much sketchier than other places we've been). Our main reason for stopping there was to rest after our long journey from Ecuador (it's the first major hub after the border) and to check out the nearby artisan markets at Catacaos which are recognized as the best place in Peru to buy weavings, silversmith creations, and pottery from Chulucanas (also close to Piura). We decided to forego a private trip in a moto-taxi (basically a motorized tricycle with a covered bench seat) and braved the slightly safer form of public transportation - combis.
The market town was fairly quiet because it was midweek but there was still lots to look at and we managed to buy enough to fill one large box and a 1.5 m long PVC tube... Unsatisfied with the packing done at the market, we searched Piura high and low for a bigger box so that we could stuff more paper in to secure our fragile cargo for the shipment back to Canada. It was almost comical how difficult it was just to find a box! We tried at tiendas (small shops), electronics stores, our hotel and even began keeping our eyes peeled when we passed empty lots. We finally chanced upon one at some sort of government agency when we were walking back from the laundromat (in a sketchy part of town). They seemed bemused by our request but handed over the solid looking box nonetheless.
After repackaging our treasures to the point where we were 86.3% confident they'd make it home intact we trekked through the hot sun and the bustling crowds of the Plaza de Armas to the Servipost. Unfortunately, the postal workers of Peru were on strike. We'd actually seen the protests as they were taking place just a few buildings away from our hotel but the post office, located in another part of town, had appeared open when we'd past it previously.We had a confusing exchange with the clerk during which we initially thought she was going to allow us to pay and leave our parcels to be sent after the strike but eventually it became clear that this was not possible and we'd have to carry them with us to our next destination. That same day, from our hotel window, we watched something the protesters had lit on fire burn in the street, churning thick black smoke up through the trees of the boulevard park, and we wondered if we might be carrying our parcels for a while.
|Small museum at the site of the Sipan ruins near Chiclayo.|
|The Moche ruins at Sipan.|
Anyway, after the ruins we went to "the best museum in Peru", according to our guide. I thought this was very fortuitous because it would allow us to decide whether or not visiting any other museums in Peru would be necessary/worthwhile. It turned out to be quite neat, housing relics from the tombs of the Lords of Sipan as well as their remains. Our final stop was the site where the tombs were discovered. There the tombs have been recreated to show how the Lords and priests were buried. It felt like a real archaelogical site but after a while the tombs all started looking the same. "There's the lord and there are his wives and/or concubines and there is the dog and the llama and the boy..." We were never told why they bury a boy with the lord but the guide did say it wasn't a relative or a slave... hmm.
We managed to take care of our other piece of business in Chiclayo the next day. The postal workers were still on strike, as was extremely evident by the noisy protests taking place right outside the Servipost, but a solitary clerk was working when we arrived and she set about weighing our parcels, which we took as a sign that we'd get to send them. While we were completing the required documents and declarations a TV crew arrived and filmed us. We could just imagine the indignant reporter describing the two insensitive extranjeros (foreigners) flouting the valid concerns of striking postal workers to mail our souvenirs home. Oh well. We made the Peruvian news and got rid of our parcels. Hopefully our stuff makes it home...
|Sunset bail. Some surfers are better than others.|
|Huanchaco beach on an overcast afternoon.|
|Hmm, which restaurant to choose... they all look the same!|
|Trying to get some speed...|
We haven't really don't much else worth noting. Most of our time has been spent reading and planning future parts of our trip. It has been good to relax and take it easy after some long bus rides coupled with short stays in busy cities.
|Chris reading on the terrace at sunset.|
Tonight we are taking a night bus to the cordilleras. We are going to test out the bus-cama mode of transport - bed buses that have fully reclining seats. Hopefully it will be an ultra comfortable 8-10 hours...