Do not leave rocks in the road.

We are currently parked for the night (S 06.512725 W 79.847908) just outside the ruins of a vast city built over 1000 years ago near the modern town of Tucume (in Peru!). We have dutifully climbed to the top of Cerro La Raya to enjoy the unparalleled panoramic vista of twenty six major pyramids (one of which is the longest adobe structure in the world at over 700 metres). Just to clarify that, the large "hills" you can see are the thousand year old remains of pyramids build with millions and millions of mud bricks!

We crossed from Ecuador into Peru at the little used border crossing of Macara. The formalities were straightforward and friendly, taking about 90 minutes for all three vans. Rather surprisingly we were able to use our Carnet when entering Peru.

The contrast between our last two days in Ecuador and our first two days in Peru has been considerable. In Ecuador we were in lush mountains, often above 2000 metres. The villages seemed prosperous, with a holiday atmosphere (there were resorts with water parks and motels).

When we entered Peru we were told by one of the customs officials to avoid the city of Sullana as it was "not safe" (we were not intending to go there). Our route took us the the town of Chulucanas to see an "amazing pottery" via a minor road. This road turned out to be Mel's first taste of sustained dust and the odd shallow river to ford. The villages we passed thru seemed very poor by comparison with Ecuador. Rather disconcertingly however, almost everybody smiled and waved enthusiastically at us (why?).

The pottery (at least the one we found) at Chulucanas was not amazing, but the Internet cafe next door was fast.

Leaving Chulucanas we descended to near sea level and skirted the eastern edge of the Desierto de Secura for about 200km with scenery reminiscent of Africa (you expected to see giraffe rather than goats). It was on sections of this road that we were urged not to leave rocks in the road. We confined ourselves to leaving a few small pebbles right at the edge.

We are now parked in a 24 hour secure car park in centre of Chiclayo (Casa Comunal de la Juventud) at S 06.773268 W 79.845093). Originally we only intended to visit Chiclayo to avail ourselves of the fine supermarket at S 06.770987 W 79.842572. Alas the guide books revealed that Chiclayo (like every other town in Central and South America?) has a market. This just has to be visited.

Our route to Chiclayo from Tucume was via the archaeological site of Sipan and rather too many sugar cane fields.

Our attempts to reach Sipan by the direct route from Pucala were repeatedly frustrated by being told emphatically that we could not get there by going towards Sipan, but we must, for inexplicable reasons, drive in the opposite direction thru a maze of unmarked dirt tracks between fields of sugar cane. Whilst everybody we asked was clear that the direct way to Sipan was wrong, there was considerable disagreement about which, if any, of the alternative tracks would eventually lead there. See map for details!

Sipan is well worth a visit (S 06.800797 W 79.600753). The main attraction is the recently discovered, un-looted Tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The Lord was buried with at least eight living people, including a guard (whose feet had been amputated) three young women, two assistants, a servant, a child, a dog and two llamas.

Although the original artifacts have been removed to a museum at Lambayeque exact replicas have be placed in the tomb.

Stephen Stewart.

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