Can you keep a secret? Promise not to tell?
Here it is, ready? The password for the WIFI at the Hotel El Gran Marques in Trujillo is “moche”.
I know this because I stayed at the Gran Marques on my last overnight stop during a trip from the US to Peru last week. I don’t know if the friendly people at the Gran Marques intended for me to publish their little secret but then again I can’t really see a lot of this blog’s readers heading to the parking lot of the Gran Marques just to take advantage of free WIFI.
There is a point to the story – and the point is that they chose “moche”. Not “Inca-this” or “Inca-that”, “Machu Picchu” or “Wayna Picchu”, but “moche”. The people at the Gran Marques are proud of their Moche heritage and for that reason alone I will stay at the Gran Marques again on my next trip!
Moche was a pre-Inca culture in Northern Peru and today the people in Northern Peru remain proud of their Moche ancestors. Today the Moche culture is perhaps best known for their elaborate paintings such as this one at the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna.
Trouble is, unless you’ve had a chance to spend a good bit of time in Peru outside of the typical tourist circuit you may have never heard of Moche or any of the other the great cultural diversity that exists in Peru.
Take a look at this screenshot, I typed “Peru” in Google and searched for images only:
You can only see part of the results in the picture above but try it for yourself, type “Peru” in Google’s image search and see what you get. Other than a few pictures of maps and flags, my search results returned:
- 1 picture of a blond girl at Lake Titicaca,
- 1 picture of the beach near Miraflores,
- 8 pictures of Machu Picchu, and,
- Nothing else!
Now Machu Picchu is a fabulous place to visit and the touch-stone location for Peru or maybe all of Latin America, but I regularly hear the same sentiment from Peruvians and expats here alike that the image of Peru – and what little bit the typical tourist visits – is incredibly one-dimensional and not at all representative of the diversity that exists in Peru.
There is so much more to Peru than just Pizza Street in Miraflores, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Unfortunately you have to sort of seek out the path less traveled to get to know the rest of Peru.
Traditionally Peru has been said to consist of 3 regions: the coast, the Andes mountains and the jungle, but even that is too simplistic. Lima as a modern-day metropolis is a distinct area, the North of Peru has its Moche heritage, there is an Afro-Peruvian culture, Asian influence, and regions like Arequipa and Puno have a very distinct feel to them unlike the rest of Peru.
If you have a chance to visit Peru and want to see what the country is like away from the typical tourist circuit, sneak away from your tour group and just hop on any bus – don’t even ask where it’s going. There are many great things to be discovered!
Some pictures of the North of Peru: