23 January 2012


Originally, I was torn between Chiclayo (much closer to everything else, and with an airport) and Chachapoyas. Yes, an overnight bus ride – but if you get first class, like I do, it’s not so bad. But the overnight bus left me with the option of taking another 12 hour bus ride to Lima or flying. I found a fairly affordable flight and figured I could do the best of both worlds and see Chiclayo! Bueno!

I arrived bleary-eyed but ready to explore the city – until the kindly security guard informed me that it was too dangerous for me to walk around.  My friends had been pickpocketed in the city a few days prior, and the news was bursting about the assault of a North American woman. I don’t know what happened, but it seemed to be pretty bad as everyone was quite worried. I thought about getting a hotel just for a place to take a nap, shower, and have a secure spot to crash, but the affordable ones listed in Lonely Planet had all seemed to shut down. (Several people verified this for me.)

So I chilled in the bus station until 7am, and then joined the masses on the streets. With my pack in the bus station’s luggage storage, I still had my laptop, passport, kindle, camera, iPod – I had to be careful. So I walked cautiously, trying to ignore the many stares/comments I got.

I explored the main square, various streets, and then got breakfast. “Tienes comida vegetarian?” Hmmm…She pointed out there was spaghetti con veduras. “Para desayuno?” She shrugged. I decided I couldn’t deal with any more eggs, so I ordered that for breakfast. It was with some sort of soy sauce, no onion because I requested that, and tons of cabbage. It was edible.

After breakfast, I wandered around the town a bit more, and then, dealt with the drama (and expense) of mailing things back to the States. And then I headed to the even more extreme drama of catching a combi (minibus) to Lambayeque. I hopped off when I got to the town, and someone told me how to get to the Museo Tumbes Reales de Sipan.

The site of Sipan is about 40km from Chiclayo, but this wasn’t that. Basically, when they discovered this tomb, they moved most of the stuff to this site to be restored and displayed. It’s one of the top ten archeological museums in the world and is just gorgeous – it’s laid out in the same way as the tomb, in layers, so you walk around on ramps like you are layers in the tombs – and the tombs are arranged in a similar way that everything is found. It includes the skeleton of the young (He died in his 40s.) Lord Sipan, who died young with a terrible bone disease – maybe arthritis. Because he was royalty, he did not walk – he wore golden sandals. (FYI, If I’m ever a lord or president or ruler, I will not wear shoes you can’t walk in. I will make running a national past-time.) Anyway, all his jewelry, his clothing, everything is on display. They also found the bones of several others buried with him – his wife, concubines, soldiers, etc. I’m sorry, I love Wayne, but if he dies, I’m not jumping into that burial site with him.

The museum is only 10 soles (a little more than $3USD), but to get a private guide (which really helps to tell a lot more of the story than is on display – which, by the way, is only in Espanol) is only 20 soles – so you get someone telling you all about everything, answering your questions – for a little more than $6USD.

It was absolutely fascinating, and I was full of questions. Also very cool – you get to see people fixing and working on restoring remains in a building to the side of the main building.

After, I got ensalada de fruta con yogurt, miel y cereals (fruit salad with yogurt, honey & muesli), and then returned to Chiclayo. I got my bag from the bus station, was very relieved, as the bus station personnel have proved themselves incompetent many times – temporarily losing my bags in Chiclayo when I was transferring buses to go to Chacha, marking my bags for Trujillo when they were destined to Chiclayo – and then arguing me that my bag was going to Trujillo and shouldn’t stay with me.

With time to burn, but not sure what to do, I decided to head to the airport early. I used the wifi, relaxed, and enjoyed not being in a rush, for once.

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