We are in Trujillo, an hour and 15 minutes north of Lima. This morning, we went to see the somewhat-excavated “Huaca de La Luna” or pyramid of the moon, which is across from the hardly-excavated Huaca del Sol, which once was the largest pyramid in the Americas. Both were built by the Moche people, who populated northern Peru between 200 and 800 AD.
When I asked Donna Robison what she wanted to see most in this blog, it was something unusual. This was it. I have seen other pyramids in the Americas, and the next trip you should take with your family is to Peru. Compared to most of the world, Peru is relatively stable and close to the U.S. You can make it one week in Peru, Northern Peru AND Machu Picchu. Or you can make it two weeks with Northern Peru, the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, but don't come to Peru without seeing Huaca de La Luna.
The Huaca is a secret jewel… we didn’t see it when we came to Peru the first time. Why haven’t you heard of it? Most of the initial excavations took place in the 1990’s long after you exited college. Our understanding of the Moche people seems to still be under development.
I’m going to include a Peruvian link here, so you can see some additional models of how it might have appeared. Just ignore the Spanish if you can’t read it.
The Moche actually built four pyramids at the location of Huaca de La Luna. To build a successor four-sided, flat-topped pyramid, they would add the new pyramid on top of and around the former pyramid, by filling in all the spaces or niches with more adobe bricks. As a result, they covered up amazing frescoes which have only “recently” been uncovered. A panorama Scott took is below, along with some photos I took.
After we went to lunch at a nearby beach town, Huanchaco, we had a demonstration in reed-boat making.
We then went to Chan-Chan, capitol of the Chimú people, who reigned in the area after the Moche. Current thought is that massive walls surrounded a labyrinthian religious center; the population lived outside the walls. Compared to the Huaca, it felt as though it had been “prettied up” a little too much and perhaps was not as original. Still, you came away with a sense that these civilizations were much larger than even experts had imagined.
Our hotel, the Hotel Libertador, is on the main plaza in downtown Trujillo. When we returned, the Cathedral treated us to 14 stations of the cross, just outside our window. Can't promise this if you bring your family, unless you come during Semana Santa.