Five taxis drove us down the Pan-American Highway en route to explore the city of Trujillo. The landscape started to change but before your eyes could get used to the change of scenery, acres and acres of green vegetation would grace the side of the road. As the taxi drivers weaved in and out of cars, we passed by smaller towns. You could not help but think if communities like Cambio Puente have lack of access to water and challenges with waste management, how many other towns are in similar situations? What unique or common challenges do they experience?
Las Huacas del Sol Y De La Luna
The huaca (temple) is composed of five temples, each one built inside the other. Named after other temples (like the ones found in Teotihuacan in Mexico City), our tour guide used the example of boxes inside of boxes to understand the structure. Discovered in 1991, the outer layer has since been destroyed by grave robbers and climate. Brick making was an important aspect of the Mochica culture. The main and only colors used to paint the carvings were white, black, red, yellow, and blue. While the Mochica culture did not have a writing system, their form of communication was through paintings.
In the gift shop near the Temple of the Moon in Trujillo where human sacrifice had been practiced, Sister Martha Ann saw a book called Sacrificios Humanos en America, Cronica de una Patraña Europa grappling with the complexity of the meaning of sacrifice in European Christian culture and in these ancient cultures in Peru. By the book was this crucifix. Good art raises more questions than it gives answers. The vertical bar of the cross is a “tumi” with a black blade, that is the instrument that the indigenous people used to kill the human victims. Why is the artist using this to form this cross? Is the cross bar the knife of the people or is it an instrument of the Spanish? Is the figure on the cross meant to be Jesus sacrificed for the sins of world? Is it a Peruvian peasant (in the typical hat) who has been sacrificed by the Spanish oppressors? Do the gods need sacrifices to appease them? To keep away the danger and death of terrible weather? Does the Christian God need human sacrifice?
Are each of us called to sacrifices of loving care and service for others? Rather than sacrificing the other? Sister Martha Ann is taking home the cross to invite conversations.
Lunch in Huanchaco
Evelyn Jasso Garcia wrote, “We watched the beautiful waves of the Pacific Ocean and walked the beach. The Oceanside here is better maintained than the one in Chimbote.”
Chan Chan, A World Heritage Site
Our next visit took us to visit the Chan Chan Archeological Zone, a World Heritage Site. These temples were built by the Moche people between 200 and 850 CE. This area was the capital of the Moche culture.
According to UNESCO:
The Chimu Kingdom, with Chan Chan as its capital, reached its apogee in the 15th century, not long before falling to the Incas. The planning of this huge city, the largest in pre-Colombian America, reflects a strict political and social strategy, marked by the city’s division into nine ‘citadels’ or ‘palaces’ forming autonomous units. Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0
For more information about this World Heritage Site, visit https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/366.
Learning from International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee
Our day finished with a special visit and presentation to continue learning about Peru’s challenges and ongoing struggles. Victor Mendoza is a member of the Incarnate Word Sisters International Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Committee and contributes so much.
Victor spoke to the group about three major areas: political violence, violence against women, and the Amazonia. The events that took place between 1980 and 2000 is a dark period in Peruvian history with the loss of over 60,000 people. During that time of internal political turmoil, the indigenous and people living in rural areas were the ones most affected. He mentioned an intriguing form of political violence: the act of forgetting. Forgetting in the sense that people tend to forget the harm people in power have caused. The past 5 presidents of Peru have been involved in some form of corruption. He urges people to never forget.
Violence against women is another ongoing challenge in Peruvian society. Femicides continue to rise, up to 180 cases last year compared to 2017 with 131 reported. The majority of these victims are housewives and the main cause is jealousy followed by revenge. One student mentioned the term machismo, and Victor agreed that this type of mentality amongst males contributes to violence against women.
Lastly, the Amazonian people are also facing many ecological and human rights violations. Deforestation has caused foreign companies to invade the Amazon, impacting the people and the environment. Petroleum companies extract oil through pipes that are not maintained and burst.
Janie Benavides wrote,
I felt such hope while listening to this man. To hear the passion in his voice- even though I didn’t understand the words- gave me the realization that there are still men of honor.
For more information and to read of their issues and some of his contributions, visit http://saccvi.blogspot.com/.
By Yesenia Caloca
Contributions by Sister Martha Ann Kirk