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El Senor de Sipan and longest wave in the world

All Sunday shopping a shaman needs, mind blowing riches of the Lord of Sipan in Chiclayo and cute shithole Puerto Chicama, home of the longest wave in the world

Labor Day means no labor almost everywhere around the world and Peru is no exception. Nicely fitting on Friday it provided us with prolonged weekend opportunity and so we took another mini-trip: first Chiclaoyo and then Puerto Chicama.
Chiclayo itself is not very thrilling town some 4 hours north of Huanchaco but there are 2 things that make it worth to visit. A “shamanic section” of a local market and (the real highlight) a museum which displays treasures found in a tomb of “Lord of Sipan” (yes, “El Senor de Sipan” which is also name of my beloved surfboard).

The shamanic section of the market sells a lot of “cool and useful” stuff, useful that is if you wanna brew some mighty medicine, potion or poison. Anaconda skins, hallucinogenic cacti, skinned lizards, llama fetus(!), weird mushrooms and all sorts of plants, “powder of hate”, “powder of love”, “powder of business success” and powders for everything else from treating warts to attaining spiritual superpowers.

And now to Lord of Sipan. As everywhere around South America, treasures of ancient civilizations have pretty much all been looted by the Spaniards and grave-robbers. All the gold had long been melted and shipped to Spain in galleons or sold on antiquities black market. And then in 1987 a sudden increase of valuable treasure on Peru’s black market led archeologists to a trace and they discovered ruins of pyramids that were being looted by grave robbers. When police sorted it out (by shooting some of the tomb raiders that didn’t want to give up their prize) the archeologists to their own surprise discovered a royal tomb that the robbers hadn’t discovered before. And that tomb was LOADED by priceless treasures which accompanied a local chief (Lord of Sipan) to his afterlife. I read on internet that it was considered as probably the most important archeological discovery of second half of 20th century. And for a good reason. The stuff they found there seemed to me (and later I found out that also to the archeologists themselves) on par with the legendary treasure from Tutankhamen’s tomb. Intricate golden ornaments, jewelry, mummified chief and his afterlife followers and loads of religious objects. Museum of Chiclayo houses most of it.
Photography was not permitted, but to share a bit of that beauty with you I downloaded few pictures from the internet and posted them in the photo gallery section.

Next day it was time for Puerto Chicama. It’s a small village at the edge of the desert and the ocean, a true shithole, albeit pretty nicely located on top of a sandy cliff. But this shithole is actually a world record breaker. It is home of the longest (left handed) wave in the world. They say that on a good day you can ride the wave for more than 3 kilometers. 3 kilometers!?!? My average wave takes maybe 30 meters! 3 kilometers!!! Fuck. So yeah, this is the longest surfable wave in the world. And the day we came it WAS a good day. Actually it was an excellent day. The whole Pacific Coast of South America was supposed to be battered by giant waves during the weekend. In Chile an ad-hoc professional big wave surfing event was taking place. In Mexico the swell produced some of the most diabolical waves ever surfed. Here in Chicama the waves were not extremely huge, because the sea floor here is “resistant” to huge waves, and actually it requires a massive swell to start working. But those 2m – 2,5m high waves that were here were indeed breaking for maybe 1 kilometer. I didn’t bring my surfboard for this trip and anyway this was beyond my skills, so it would be pointless and potentially dangerous to try to paddle out there. But we were watching the local masters from top of the cliff and it was a true poetry.

Upon our return to Huanchaco we discovered that the massive weekend Pacific swell produced 5m high waves in Huanchaco, part of the town was flooded and ready for evacuation (which was finally not necessary) and most importantly, the beach was significantly swallowed by the ocean. The waves have eroded the beach so much that in some places the beach has virtually disappeared and in other places its width halved. The “new” beach of Huanchaco is visibly less appealing than the “old” one. They even had to bring some extra sand by trucks to save the situation and the town from further flooding.

Click for photo gallery

     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak