Caral, the oldest known city of the Americas

Trip Start Aug 05, 2005
Trip End Aug 21, 2005

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, August 7, 2005

6 AM wake up this morning for an early start to Caral- 120 km north of Lima.
7:30 AM departure- driving across Lima again to reach the Pan American Highway. Outside of Lima we finally reach the coast- high cliffs of sand and maybe sandstone to our right and deep drop to Pacific on our left. All in fog.

Finally head inland at Vegueta. Narrow dirt roads edging small farms an irrigation canals; then turn north again, crossing the desert & up through the mountains- gravel road now- crossing the divide and descending into Supe Valley.

Arrive at ruins about noon- have a box lunch that's pretty good- roast port slices with egg; also a cassarol of mashed potatoes with shredded chicken in the middle; plus chocholate cake. I set aside the cheese and crackers and apple for later.

Finally begin the tour led by a very young & handsome arch. worker- prossibly a student- who leads us through the complex, explaining each site. Dan does the translating for us from Spanish, though some of our crowd can understand him- wich I were one. The sun is out but there's a nice breeze. Everything is a very fine beige dust that clings to everything- loam, I'm told- could be fertile with water- then we get to the edge of the plateau and look down to the Supe Valley- GREEN!!!! you can see how civilizations could hover around the valleys. Like the Nile, they bring life to the desert and make these amazing civilizations possible.

And also like Egypt, this cradle of civilization of the Americas, is currently dated to 5000 year ago- the oldest known city in the Americas. Built contemporaneously with the great pyramids of Egypt.

We walk and walk and walk- 1.5 hour tour turned into 2.5. It's a special tour I think because our tour guide, Dan, is well known in Peru. This is a large complex- pre-ceramic with 4 temples dug out to some degree plus a couple others just beginning. A good deal of work is being done to rebuild portions but being very careful to retain authenticity- only using fallen rocks & same mud daub to hold it together.

Poor site- little money to support the work, but they're doing a nice job to try & lure some tourism, but keeping it controlled. Set up several latrines, covered picnic areas & small souvenir sales; they're sold out of a nice pamphlet by the time I got to the front of the line- only postcards. I hope I can get one somehow.

Long ride back to Lima and we don't get started until 3pm. It's dinner on our own tonight- hope something is open.
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