I hitch-hiked to the ruins of Chan Chan, between Trujillo and Huanchaco … my lift to the site was on the ice cream man’s bicycle, on top of the ice cream!

The Chimu civilization made many references to fish and birds in their architecture.

The Recinto Funerario (above right) was the important burial place of senor Chimo.

Left: On a local collectivo to the coastal town of Huanchaco, my base for visiting the ruins.

Local fishermen and their hand-made boats.

I managed to get a pair of green leather shoes made by this talented cobbler. His workshop is on top of the roof of his house.

When you are tired of walking, hop in a toktok to get around the streets.

Local and tourist surfers alike roam the many coastal villages, spending many an hour in the good swell which hits the mainland year round.

August `09

The history of Peru has much to do with it´s geographical orientation. There are three major regions running in parallel north-south strips: desert, mountain and jungle. The history here in Peru is rich and stretches far back. Civilizations inhabited the areas most fit for agriculture e.g. lush river valleys in the desert areas.

Most people visit Peru in search of discovering more of the Inca civilization. But there is more to the country’s history, with the Incas only at the tip of the ice-berg. In the north of the country, around 1000 BC, the Chavin people existed. Then there came the Paracas who mummified their dead in meticulously woven fabric. The Moche civilization followed in their footsteps while in the south the Nazca Indians were making ground around 500 AD. In roughly 1000 AD the mysterious culture of the Tiahuanaco people arrived.

The photographs above are from the time of the Chimu culture. These are the ruins of their capital city, Chan Chan, founded by the hero Taycanamo. It lies close to the metropolis of Trujillo, and tourists base themselves here or at the nearby coastal village of Huanchaco while visiting the many sites in the area. The most important enclosure in the palace of Chan Chan was the Recinto Funerario with the tomb of senor Chimo. The tomb was placed in the centre of a great funerary platform and surrounded by 44 other tombs of importance. The other secondary tombs included concubines, officials and many other items meant to accompany the Chimu lord in the next life. Ceremonies were carried out with colourful pageantory here and in the plaza.

The Incas absorbed Chimu achievements in technology and the arts into their own empire. This extended beyond modern Peru mainly north into Ecuador and east into Bolivia, but also south into Argentina and a bit of Chile. In the 15th century, however, the Incas extinguished earlier traditions as mercilessly as the Spaniards crushed theirs the century to follow. A civil war over succession to the thrown led to rapid disintegration of the Inca empire. It was already crumbling when the Spaniards arrived. In less than three years, the Incas were subjugated. The Spanish therefore inherited more than a single civilisation becasue the Incas were already an empire of conquest, made up of many different societies. The native artistry was of no interest to the invading Spanish. The impressively large amounts of goldwork were melted down and cast into ingots for sale at the market value of metal. Sadly, only a fraction of the total artefacts which once existed, survive today.