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May 23, 2013

Photo Essay: The Grand Dame of El Bruco

Filed under: Travel — Guest Author @ 4:46 am

When Bev sent me her story of visiting the resting place of Dama de Cao, I was immediately moved. This story had to be shared; I hope you feel the same way.  As a perpetual traveler, she offers an eye into places we may never go. I like to call this Arm Chair Travel. Educational, fun, captivating….all from the comfort of home. Stay tuned for more photo essays from Bev in the coming months. — Lesli

In the morning, greeted by our cheerful, friendly driver, my friends and I set off on tour again!  We drove one and a half hours north, passing through acres of sugar cane farms and finally leading us out of the desert.  Suddenly, in the middle of nowhere, we reached our destination. The El Bruco archaeological site – an ancient pyramid monument of the Moche civilization.

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First we visited the museo, a fabulous modern building.  The displays were wonderful and the presentations were interesting and informative.

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1500 years before South America had its first female head of state, the Dama de Cao (or Señora de Cao) governed from this pyramid. Over the last six years, her story has spread far and wide, a replica of her mummy has toured the world, and NatGeo ran a widely-publicized documentary about her. This lovely museo seems a fitting resting place for Dama de Cao, located at the base of her pyramid.

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A short trek from the mueso is the pyramid complex……

The Moche always built their pyramids with mud bricks, and when the El Niño rains came in the late sixth century (and again many times after that), the buildings melted away. Today, they look more like half-washed-away sandcastles or dirt mounds than the towering palaces they once were.

However, this process of destruction yielded a surprising result. As the top layers of the pyramids washed down onto the lower levels, they sealed them in, protecting them from the elements. Today we see only the lower levels of El Bruco…but what an amazing sight….

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As we stood atop the Huaca Cao Viejo it is difficult to envision this was once a grand city. Today there is just desert and sugar cane fields….

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Dama de Cao was discovered by an archaeological team in 2006, in a tomb high inside of the pyramid in an elaborately-painted burial chamber. The researchers and the world were shocked at finding the remains of the ruler of this grand pyramid and city belonged to a woman……yeah, go “girl power”!!!!…

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El Brujo dates as far back as the year 100 BC, and these ruins clearly show the remains of a large, stepped pyramid, a spacious central court, mural ornamentation and clay plaster with detailed polychrome relief work…..

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The temple wall on Cao Viejo soars five stories above the main ceremonial plaza, where animal and human sacrifices were performed. The 1700-year old murals, still plainly visible, portray vanquished soldiers being led to the spot where their blood would be offered to the gods!!

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It was incredibly hot in the desert but as we left the ruins there was a nice breeze from the ocean. Returning to the present day, we drove to El Bruco village (35 minutes away, population 500), we stopped at the charming Plaza de Armas, dominated on one side by a glorious colourful church….

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Now lunchtime, we ate at the town’s only restaurant. I have to say there was excellent food and cheap, too……We enjoyed one of my favorite Peruvian meats, grilled Cuy.  My poor friends were squirming!!!…..as translated….Cuy is guinea pig!!!….(they don’t eat much Cuy in South Peru, but they eat Alpacha which they don’t eat in the north!)

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We then drove on to Huanchaco beach for the afternoon….. up next are the famous Tortora reed fishing boats….

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hasta mañana, B xx

 

About the Author

Bev Campbell resides…..well, where???!!!, my home is New Zealand….but i have been absent for a while, just over 2 years now in fact, as i’ve been traveling the World constantly. Asia, USA, South America, Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Baltic’s, you name it!….. i even got up to Iceland and Far North Lapland. With previous extensive travel and the last 2 years non-stop, i’ve now visited 85 countries. The best of my travels…..meeting people, being privileged to share in their lives, to experience and appreciate new cultures, you’re never to old to learn.


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