Coastal Chiclayo is one of the main cities in the north of Peru. It's famous for having a number of significant nearby archaeological ruins, including those of Sipán. Chiclayo is quite a relaxed place: it has a great atmosphere, and it's a very nice city to hang around in and to explore at your leisure. Also has great food, including fruit and ice-cream cafés everywhere, and a plethora of ceviche (raw seafood) restaurants.
While I was waiting to catch a combi back from the ruins of Sipán this evening, I had a nice long chat with one of the locals, who comes there each day to sell his artesanias (lit: "handicrafts", i.e. souvenir shmontses). My friend explained to me how Sipán is a very remote and impoverished area, and how the discovery of the gold-filled Moche tomb in 1987 did little to change this in the long-term. He described how impossible it is for the locals around here to travel, or to have any real hope of getting out and doing something different with their lives, due to their very modest finances. And he also said something that really made me stop and think: "you tourists that come here are our biggest opportunity, and our only hope".
Yesterday, I explored some of the museums and ruins north of Chiclayo, in the Lambayeque area. This afternoon, I headed east, to the ruins of Sipán themselves — the site where the enormous treasure of El Señor de Sipán was uncovered. Long and much-delayed combi ride there and back — and the ruined pyramids are about as ruined and as unimpressive as their counterparts, that I saw yesterday at Túcume — but the tomb itself is a sight worth seeing, and the little museum next to the ruins is interesting as well.
After finishing up at the Brüning Museum, Kate and I continued on to the ruins of Túcume, which are also close to Chiclayo, about ½ an hour further up the road from Lambayeque (as the combi goes). Interesting Moche ruins, although they really are the most ruined ruins I've seen so far in Peru: they're supposed to be pyramids, but really, they just look like big mounds of dirt. Anyway, it's a nice walk to them, from the town of Túcume; and the scenery from the lookout is very pleasant there.
Along with my friend Kate, I caught a combi from Chiclayo to the nearby town of Lambayeque today, and had a look inside the famous Brüning museum. Named after the turn-of-the-20th-century photographer and artefacts collector, Hans Heinrich Brüning (who lived in the area for many years), the museum is filled with beautiful relics from the Pre-Inca civilisations that dwelt in the Chiclayo area — many of which are pure gold — as well as photos from the area 100 years ago. Nice place to look around, and not overly touristed either.
I've met a lot of interesting people on my trip, but Kate would have to be the most unique soul I've come across so far. She's been in South America for over a year — she lived in Cusco for 6 months, and she's just broken up with a local Ecuadorian boyfriend that she had for a long time — and she plans to go back to Cusco, and to live there indefinitely. She's a "healer" — you know, into traditional rituals, herbal medicine, shamanism, and all that tree-huggin' hippie stuff — and she wants to pursue healing as a full-time career move. Met her randomly in Chiclayo today, and had a great time hanging out with her and going sight-seeing with her.
Fairly basic little guest-house, close to the centre of town in Chiclayo. This place used to be called "Hostal Lido" — that's what it's listed as in my out-of-date LP — but it recently changed both its name and its owners. It bills itself as a "backpacker's hostel", but it's not a hostel (no dorms, only single / double private rooms — don't think they have any real hostels in Chiclayo), and it doesn't have any communal hang-out area for backpackers. Anyway, I think that for cheap and convenient accommodation, it's about the best that Chiclayo has to offer. The lady-in-charge these days is very friendly, as well.