This is the Temple of the Sun of the Moche people in Northern Peru (near Trujillo). It was built around 600AD and was apparently the biggest manmade structure in the Americas for a long time. Basically, these people mastered irrigation and fish farming, so life was easy. As a result, they spent all their free time building cool stuff or making good ceramics and jewellery. The excavation of this Temple and the nearby Temple of the Moon is completely privately funded, so it is officially sponsored by a beer company...
Every hundred years or so, a new ruler would come along and decide to build a bigger, better pyramid. They would just fill in the old one with bricks and build on top of it. This means that many of the lower levels were really well preserved once they pulled all the bricks out.
In the Moche culture, you were taxed in bricks. Every family had to make and give a certain number of bricks to the government each year. Because they had no written language, each family would mark its bricks in some way. Some were boring and just used an X. Some had elaborate designs. We liked the smiley face.
This detailed fresco tells the story of the Moches and was on the outside of one of the pyramids. One of the more interesting parts is that they would sacrifice humans when El Nino screwed up the climate. However, unlike the Incas who would sacrifice children, the Moches would let prisoners volunteer to fight in teams of two. The winners got to go free and the losers were sacrificed to the gods. Seems much more reasonable.
Also in the above is the Peruvian Hairless dog (which actually has a bit of hair). They are still popular and considered to have some sort of mystical powers that allow them to heal people. Here is one healing whatever might ail Tara:
After this, we were off to Puerto Lopez in Ecuador. This turned out to be a rough trip. We made it into Ecuador and took a bus to Guayquil. Unknown to us, Ecuador had a four day holiday weekend and it was one of the biggest travel weekends of the year. When we got to Guayquil, it was the busiest bus station we had ever seen. Every line had a couple hundred people waiting to buy tickets. The line we wanted had even more. So, after waiting in line for about an hour and not moving an inch, we broke down and paid the exorbitant sum of $50 to a taxi to take us two hours away to a town where we could catch a local bus. The local bus had about 300 people crammed in, and Tara calls it the party bus due to the loud salsa music being played on it.
Once we made it to Puerto Lopez, it was wet and muddy. Here is the main street. The mud did not win Tara's heart, but the city was much nicer the next day after it had dried out.
Now you can really see the broken camera impact, which is too bad because the pictures would otherwise be nice. We visited Isla de la Plata, which is a small island off the coast where you can find blue footed boobies, red footed boobies, banded boobies, and other inappropriately named birds. Blue footed boobies are definitely one of the best birds anywhere, so it is a shame that they are hard to see in this photo.