Salaverry, Peru, is the port town for the city of Trujillo. Trujillo is the capital of the La Libertad region of Peru. Conquistador Diego de Almagro founded the city in November 1534, calling it Trujillo of New Castile after Trujillo, the home city of Conquistador/conqueror Francisco Pizarro. With the assistance of Simón Bolívar in the 1820’s, Trujillo became the first Peruvian city freed from the Spanish empire.
The city of Trujillo lies in the Moche (pronounced mow-chay) Valley. This area was the site of the Moche civilization which existed from 100 to 700 A.D. The Moche are noted for their painted ceramics, gold work, large temple structures, and irrigation systems.
Our first excursion stop was at a family farm in a small village to try some of the fruits that were also eaten by the Moche. While in the village we also saw a breed of dog unique to Peru: the Peruvian Hairless Dog, an ancient breed of dog known to be kept as pets by the Moche. We also saw what is widely used in Peru as taxis.
We then walked to the farm to try the fruit that were grown in fields irrigated using some of the original Moche canals. Clockwise starting in the left, the fruits are
- Pepino Dulce – A type of melon, this mild fruit is similar to cantaloupe
- Tumbo – Also known as a “banana passionfruit” is similar to the Granadilla with its viscous interior and edible seeds
- Pacay – Known as the ice-cream bean, this strange legume native to the Andes valleys contains a sweet edible pulp with a flavor reminiscent of vanilla ice cream
- Granadilla – Also known as the sweet passionfruit, this tasty Andean fruit is similar to its more famous cousin, but with a sweeter, less acidic flavor. Well-known in Peru for its positive effects on the digestive system, the granadilla is a great source of fiber, calcium and several essential vitamins
They were all were juicy and delicious.
Next we visited the Moche pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The Sun pyramid has yet to be excavated. Excavation of the Moon pyramid only began in the 1990’s. There are 5 layers of walls. Each layer was laid on top of the previous layer approximately every 100 years. You can see the layer 5 walls with its carvings below.
When we entered the pyramid, we entered on level 4. They have excavated down to a portion of level 3 where there are exquisite carvings of their chief god, Ayapec, the all knowing. Paul was able to see what it was like to be a royal in the Moche world.
El Brujo is a different site miles from the other temples or pyramids, known in Peru as “huacas”. These often look like natural hills and so most were ignored by the Spanish who were always looking for El Dorado, the city of gold. In El Brujo, the find was very significant. The huaca is the tomb of one person, an important person, and a woman. She is called the Lady of Cao and leads to the idea that this civilization was matriarchal. The mummy was buried in a heavy package containing the tattooed remains and many artifacts that demonstrate her rank and importance.
Another part of the archeological site is protected by a huge white tent where relief paintings depicting nobles, gods, and people being led to sacrifice are shown. Much of what has been discovered about the Moche culture comes from the pottery.
We’ve barely touched on this subject considering the Moche civilization lasted longer than almost any of the others.