Friday, November 1, 2013

Last Post From Peru

The Chachapoyans buried their chiefs at Karaja in these decorated clay sarcophagi, which are adorned with haughty, imperious carved heads. These were then placed in cliff crevices which faced east towards the rising sun.

In the surrounding farmland old, traditional methods are still used.

From Chachapoyas city, a winding mountain road leads to the small community of Cocachimba. Here a very warm and damp 3-hour walk takes you to the base of the Gocta falls. The water drops over 771 metres. When they were discovered in 2005 by German Stefan Zieendorff they were claimed to be the 3rd highest in the world. There was obviously some dispute about this, probably because they "bounce" halfway down, and they are currently ranked as the 16th highest in the world.

On our full-day journey back to the coast, we passed through the town of Bagua Grande. We were on a coach. I saw an extremely tall man who was astonishingly folding himself into a tuk tuk. Our guide, who had not seen this, mentioned that Bagua Grande is the home of the tallest man in Peru - Margarito Machahuay Varela, who stands 7 feet 5.8 inches. The average Peruvian is 5 feet 5 inches. I think I had just seen this man.

Bagua Grande is the capital of Utcubamba Province, in the region Amazonas. On June 5, 2009, 33 people were killed here, including 23 police, after an eviction of roughly 5000 ethnic Amazon groups had resulted in a major road (probably the one we were travelling on - it's the only one!) being blocked by protests for 55 days.

In case you don't know what a tuk tuk is, this is one, used in many third world countries as cheap taxis.

In fact I think in Peru they are known as moto taxis. I believe there is now a tuk tuk service operating in Paris. I hope that is not an indication of how far the French economy is going to fall.

Back at the coast, and staying in a hotel at Chiclayo, we made a visit out to the archeological site where the Lord of Sipan was found in 1986. The authorities were alerted to the the wonderful goods coming from grave robbers (a major industry in Peru because there is so much stuff waiting to be discovered). Subsequent excavations revealed stunning burial goods of gold, silver, copper and exquisite cloths. This is now one of the country's great treasures. The Lord of Sipan was a Moche nobleman who was buried in a pyramid in around AD 200. This discovery is to Peru what Tutankhamun was to Egypt. There is now a splendid museum nearby displaying many of the discoveries. Work goes on at the site and there may be more yet to come.

No comments: