We woke up bright and early and met our guides who drove us in a classic Volvo to Nasca. Only today we took a different car they had, a minivan. We finally got through the busy city of Lima which was basically like driving from Evanston to the south end of Chicago with NO major highway. Of course, about an hour North of Lima, the van started to bog and we had to pull over to a gas station and wait for a New driver to come. We couldn't risk driving this van because Caral is isolated in the middle of NOWHERE.
The road into Caral was off the highway, about a 30 minute drive. Couldn't really call the road paved, but it sort of resembled a road. This "road" was transformed for the president 3 years ago, as he wanted to see these ultra-important ruins.
We finally arrived at Caral, the 3rd oldest known civilization in the world, behind Mesopotamia & Egypt. I am sure you have never heard of this place unless it was from papa or myself... I'm guilty of that too.
It was discovered in 1994 and they began excavating it 2 years later in 1996. Only 14 years of excavation and a very limited governmental budget, it Is estimated only 20-25% of this civilization has been found. This is astonishing because they just recently began digging up the 8th pyramid.
Although it is in the desert (I hate the desert) and not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the late Inca ruins, it is just as interesting and a hell of a lot more important than Machu Picchu, or any site in the valley for that matter. These Pre-Inca civilizations are the foundations of what the Incas were built upon. If it weren't for these ancient sophisticated civilizations such as Caral, there would be no Machu Picchu, Ollataytambo, and not even Cusco.
There are so many connections with the civilization here and the Incas. What the Incas did so well was combine different aspects of the prior cultures and greatly improved them. Still, the Incas were about 3,000-4,000 years AFTER Caral. These great pyramids were buried deep under giant hills and dunes in the desert. Again, paralleling the time of the great Egyptians, Sumerians, and Babylonians. Who knows, they may find something absolutely extraordinary here very soon. I would keep note of this place.
This civilization Is extremely interesting in the way they structured their city. Few ins are know about it, however, what is know is they had 3 classes. Lower, middle, and upper/nobility class. This is shown by the geography in which the homes were located. The upper class always had homes near the pyramids, whereas, the middle and lower classes were somewhat excluded from the main part of the city. The middle class was especially interesting because it is seen they actually had additions put onto their homes in some cases as they discovered new ways of building walls.
I really enjoyed today in the desert. To think of how old this great civilization really is, is humbling to say the least. Why visit a horrible tourist attraction like Giza, or a war riddled country like Iraq to see something spectacular when you can travel down the same land mass to see Caral?! I could count the number of people that were there on 1 hand. That's how I like it. It's kind of son of a bitch to get to, but definitely worth it.
I had the time of my life in Peru and I am really sad to leave this place. We fly to Quito, Ecuador tomorrow - apparently on the list of "dangerous places in the world not to go to" - but that's the risk we are willing to take to see the Galapagos Islands. Or it's the only way to get there, haha we aren't that tough.
Anyway, until next time in Ecuador,
Adios Muchachos y Muchachas