Rae Wilson

Exploring the ancient in Peru

MY introduction to northern Peru brought relaxation, wonderment and a good dose of reality.

I started with a few days in balmy Mancora, not far from the border with Ecuador.

I had a bungalow complete with hammock shielded with a shell curtain.

After a dip in the crystal blue pool, I walked about 300m to the beach and watched the sun set over the large fleet of fishing boats.

After more lazing around and swimming at the Noosa-like beach on day two, I went for a seafood dish for dinner.

I had really wanted to try a Pisco Sour but I had arrived in the middle of Peru's presidential elections and alcohol is banned for a number of days.

Incidentally, a woman is now in the running for president which would be the country's first if she wins in the vote for the final two in June.

I highly recommend Green Eggs and Ham cafe for breakfast.

Great view over the beach. Great food. Great price. Great staff.

When buying a bus ticket south, don't believe the time it will take or that the onboard toilet will be open.

In Ecuador, they never open the toilet because they don't want to clean it but at least they are honest.

The 10-hour cramped bus ride to Trujillo was a nightmare.

My knees were squished into the back of the seat in front, made even worse when the guy in front decided to recline for a sleep.

We had one wee stop at the six hour mark. I just made it.

But when I got back on the bus, I realised the next four hours were going to be pure hell.

It began with stomach rumbling but soon turned into cramping and I knew what was coming.

Nearly everyone I had met in South America had endured one of the continent's infamous tummy bugs but I thought after seven weeks I had escaped unscathed.

But, no, I would endure shivers, hot and cold fevers, pins and needles, cramping, nausea and that other obvious symptom for nearly five days.

I love food so five days without food nearly killed me.

We stayed in beachside Huanchaco, near Trujillo, for two days but I barely saw outside my hotel room.

I did drag myself out for a few hours of ancient ruins though and it left me in wonder of what else was to come in amazing Peru.

Chan Chan is a mud city created by the Chimu civilisation.

Though not overly fascinating to look at, the stories about how they lived, the ceremonies and the sacrifices were fascinating.

Across town, standing at Huaca del sol y de la luna left me in awe.

Similar to Chan Chan, Huaca del sol y de la luna is a site under archeological exploration with plenty of no-go zones.

But standing at the spot where people, either forced or volunteered for sacrifice, danced and cried as they climbed the ramp towards their god was fascinating.

The Moche civilisation drawings, carved into the stone - colored by rocks, minerals and plants - are being uncovered every month.

My tour guide, who loves Moche designs, had not been in six years and was astounded by the discoveries.

He is actually designing a tattoo for his back based on their drawings.

Anyway, back to bed before a long bus ride to Lima. This time with toilet. Let's hope I can explore Peru's capital and start enjoying some food.

A Latin Affair is a travel column by Rae Wilson.

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