Chan Chan vs. Trujillo (Drive day 162: December 8th, 2003)

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I’m beginning to think we humans have de-evolved, lost our imagination and aesthetic. We make it to the ruins of the Chan empire at the magic hour and its bewitchingly beautiful — even 600 years past its prime Chan Chan is more elegant, more peaceful, than any place we’ve seen on this continent.


Granted, at one time 60,000 people lived in Chan Chan — it was the largest adobe city on earth — so Gary wouldn’t have  had it all to himself like it looks in this shot. It might have been even more beautiful, with intricate irrigation features engineered to counter a dropping water table. The air around a scalloped, now dry pond still smells like marsh.

But just beyond this crumbling reminder of a majestic architectural and engineering feat lies modern Trujillo. Filled with belching buses and cement houses slathered with political slogans — the paint is free if the owners agree to serve as billboards.

1208b p bus in trujillo

Follow this bonus-material blog and ride along on a one-year road trip that inspired the memoir The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan American Highway. On sale now. Get yours through the buy-the-book links at the bottom of the landing page on my website or here or here. Planning a road trip? Buy the audiobook here. Like The Drive’s Facebook page and tweet back at me @writerteresa. Like travel anthologies? I’m in a brand new one called Alone Together: Tales of Sisterhood and Solitude in Latin America which you can get here.


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