Trujillo, the Pearl of the North
When he founded Trujillo in 1534, Don Diego de Almagro claimed he had discovered a "fertile and suitable place for founding a city", and named it after the Spanish city where conquistador and comrade in arms Francisco Pizarro was born. Was he right? FIFA.com decided to see for themselves and visited Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru, and the surrounding area.
Trujillo is said to be the "city of eternal spring". But a cold and formidable breeze was blowing from the Pacific on the afternoon we arrived in the seaside resort Huanchaco, a surfer's paradise only 15 minutes drive from the city. We walked cautiously out along the irregularly laid planks of the 100-metre-long wooden jetty and gazed back at the beach. Our attention was drawn to a fisherman in his "caballito de totora", an extremely light boat made of reeds, battling against the waves. The beach was covered in a legion of these strange vessels, waiting on their next deployment like tin soldiers in a row. The fisherman was alone on the ocean. Two surfers on the beach seemed to be in two minds about entering the water.
A handful of tourists strolled past the many souvenir stands that lined the beach. A plethora of mementos, model totora boats, sea shells, panpipes, jewellery boxes, chains and rings, awaited their new owners. On returning to terra firma, we saw a dog in a side street. Somehow, this small creature looked different from the dogs that we know. It was a "perro calato", a Peruvian hairless dog. After a while, we slowly made our way back to the car. On leaving the resort, we saw a sign advertising the wonderful sunsets in Huanchaco. We decided to return in a few days.
On the journey back to Trujillo, we were once again submerged in the bustling atmosphere of the city with its 900,000 population. A swarm of yellow taxis buzzed around us. The people who live in this city, the Trujillanos, manoeuvre their jalopies through the city streets with great skill. Watching the city work smoothly and without accident was an extraordinary experience. At a traffic light we happened to pull up beside a rusted car crammed with empty fruit boxes. We were wondering whether the driver could see anything through his rear-view mirror.
We drove past a beautifully embellished monastery, the "Monasterio de Santa Clara", and a bright blue building with small decorated balconies made of dark wood. This was the "Museo del Juguete", the toy museum. The many palatial houses with their splendid inner courtyards, decorated wooden balconies and wrought-iron window grilles are a reminder that Spanish nobility settled in Trujillo in the sixteenth century The colonial influence can be found in every corner of this university city. In Trujillo's Plaza de Armas, the city's main cathedral, with its clean baroque lines, stands tall and proud in front of the Plaza as it has done for more than 360 years. Across the Plaza is the imposing Liberation Monument "La Libertad", which commemorates the Peruvian Declaration of Independence, first declared in this city in 1820.
Other sites not to be missed are the venerable churches of El Carmen, San Francisco, San Agustín and La Merced; and historic buildings like la Casa de la Emancipación and la Ganoza Chopitea that once played such an important role in the history of this city. Trujillo is an important economic and cultural centre. It is known for its love of traditional dance, for example the "marinera", and its expertise in breeding the famous Paso horses. The area around Trujillo was once the largest producer of corn and grain in the northern coastal area.
After a short break and a "triple de pollo", a chicken, egg and cheese sandwich, we continued on our journey to "Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna". These archaeological sites south-east of Trujillo are a popular tourist attraction. We left the main road and continued our journey along a very narrow and bumpy lane where we could see evidence of the ancient irrigation system. We quickly reached our destination. We were greeted by a swarm of mosquitoes as we started to climb the short distance to the "Huaca de la Luna" on dusty, sandy ground.
When we entered the remains of the temple, we learned that the roof of the main platform was made up of four blocks of stone and that each of the rooms served a different purpose. The "patio ceremonial", for example, was used for different kinds of ceremony. Although the site had been damaged by erosion, an expert team of archeologists, biologists, architects, engineers and others successfully and painstakingly reconstructed the ancient murals.
From this site, we could see the "Huaca del Sol" in the distance, less than a mile away. A short time later, we found ourselves on the same spot as the famous Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, who presented his novel "Way to Paradise", to the public one dark evening in January 2004 at the "temple of the moon" lit by spotlights. A mural depicting people holding hands caught our attention. We discovered that they were dancers and dignitaries. The elegant dress and ornamentation suggests they were more than likely members of the Moche nobility.
At the end of our fascinating tour, we returned to Trujillo on the now familiar bumpy road. We started planning our next archaeological adventure for one of the following days: a tour of the city of Chan Chan in the Moche valley. We reflected on our amazing experiences during the day as we looked forward to our evening meal. That evening, we were planning to try the local seafood speciality "Ceviche", raw fish served in different types of marinade, for example "al limón" (a lime juice marinade).
The constant openness and warmth of the proud Trujillanos who greet every visitor with a smile and are always willing to help is contagious. Today had convinced us that Diego de Almagro was absolutely correct in his decision. The Moche valley was indeed a fertile and suitable place for the city of Trujillo.