Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day 33: Chan Chan and finding the Rio Santa (423 kms)

We realized this morning that we actually had a lot of time in which to reach Lima for our Dec 1 rendezvous with Peter. So we decided to push on and take a detour through the Andean Cordillera Blanca.

First we passed the sprawling ruins of Chan Chan and pyramids at las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna near Trujillo.

We stopped for lunch - more ceviche for me - and got our first real taste how excellent Peruvian food can be. Even at a road side diner the food was fresh, varied, well prepared and plentiful.

The desert continued unbroken except in narrow strips around the several rivers where sustained irrigation was possible.

When we reached the Rio Santa we turned inland and climbed gradually to 500 meters. This was the end of the asphalt road and since it was growing dark, we pitched camp near the river. At the point the river seemed incongruous running through a dull sand and stone valley. For 35 kms there was plenty of well irrigated land. We look around for some shelter in case of sudden rain; there was evidence of flash flooding all around.

Throughout the day I kept telling Nathan that the landscape reminded me exactly of some other place:
- desert running into the ocean like at Swakopmund in Nimibia
- craggy mountains rising from the desert like those throughout Kandahar Province in Afghanistan
- river valleys containing numerous rice paddies somehow like northern Thailand where I lived and worked in 1995-96
- the rough road along the Rio Santa once the valley closed in was like Badahkshan in northern Afghanistan.