Archive for May 16th, 2006

1,500 Year Old Tattooed Lady Appears in Peru

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An exquisitely preserved and elaborately tattooed
mummy of a young woman has been discovered deep inside a mud-brick pyramid
in northern Peru, archaeologists from Peru and the U.S. announced today.

The 1,500-year-old mummy may shed new light on the mysterious Moche culture,
which occupied Peru’s northern coastal valleys from about A.D. 100 to 800.

In addition to the heavily tattooed body, the tomb yielded a rich array
of funeral objects, from gold sewing needles and weaving tools to masterfully
worked metal jewelry. Peruvian archaeologists, under the direction of lead
scientist R?gulo Franco, made the discovery last year at an ancient ceremonial
site known as El Brujo.

The tomb lay near the top of a crumbling pyramid called Huaca Cao Viejo,
a ruin near the town of Trujillo (see Peru map) that has been well known
since colonial times.

from National Geographic

El Brujo, of course, means The Wizard, The Witchdoctor,
The Shaman. We suspect the
tattooed chick has a back story that would make today’s most demented
Goth seem like a Princess in a Fairy Tale by comparison. See related
speculation in the New
York Times

The Moche, who ruled what today is the north coast of
Peru when the Roman Empire ruled the Ancient World, were without a doubt
the most blood-thirsty and ghoulish of the many sacrificial cults in
pre-Hispanic America. They sacrificed thousands of assorted victims every
year for hundreds of years. They especially liked to sacrifice children
and virgins.

They worshiped a sanguinary deity called The Decapitator,
usually depicted as a giant spider with one arm holding a knife at the
neck of its next victim and another holding the head by its hair. The
sacrifices, often dozens or hundreds at a time, featured not only, like
the Aztecs, removal of the still-beating heart using a special sacrificial
knife,
but also complete excarnation and
ritual consumption of human blood.

They couldn’t build a house or even an outhouse
without sacrificing several teenaged virgins and planting them at the
corners in
a sort of macabre feng shui. Much anthropological attention has been paid
to the source of so many human sacrifices, with no consensus conclusion.

Moche is a dark and haunted town to this day. It features worn,
slump-shouldered pyramids of weathered adobe brick, rising like brown
bales of sun-baked straw in the middle of irrigated fields of corn and
sugar cane, desultory agricultural workers and poverty-stricken peasants shuffling listlessly through said fields, and an occasional backpacking tourist. The tourists usually look around the corn fields and failing to locate a museum, gift shop, bathrooms or even a soda stand, usually leave without even seeing the pyramids up close.

We know whereof we speak, as we lived over 10 years
in the nearby Peruvian city
of Trujillo. In fact, perhaps not coincidentally, the Dowbrigade
was married (wife #1) in Moche, to a Peruvian Princess, daughter of a
local judge with shady connections in Moche which allowed us to avoid
certain time-consuming
legal prerequisites to matrimony required in more organized and supervised
jurisdictions.

The Moche marriage turned out to be almost as bloody
as the empire that preceded it, and these days our now ex-wife is looking
more
and more
like the tattooed sweetheart above. But let’s not get nasty, or mean-spirited,
this late in the game. We’re bigger than that.

BU Student Killed in Peru

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LIMA, Peru -A packed bus skidded off a highway and
flipped on its side in Peru’s southern Andes mountains, killing 13 people,
including one American, and injuring 40, police said Monday.

The accident occurred before dawn Sunday on an isolated road near the highland
district of Santa Lucia, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of
the capital of Lima.

Police said a U.S. citizen was among those killed. She was identified by
the Minneapolis Star Tribune as Meghan Sennott, 20, the daughter of one
of that newspaper’s photographers. He was notified about her death by U.S.
Consulate officials in Lima.

She was a junior at Boston University, the paper said.

Officials were investigating the cause of the crash, but local media attributed
the crash to either the driver falling asleep or a mechanical failure that
had twice prompted the driver to pull over the vehicle, which carried about
60 passengers.

Buses in Peru often are poorly maintained, and drivers frequently speed
and pass each other on blind mountain curves.

Overall, 557 people were killed in rural bus accidents between July 2004
and June 2005, according to Peru’s nonprofit Center for Investigation of
Overland Transport.

from Fox
News

Our heart goes out to the family of Meghan Sennott.
Any
seasoned traveler knows taking a bus on the Gringo Trail is taking one’s
life in one’s
own hands.
Of
course,
there
is no other way to get around down there except hitch-hiking, which is
like dipping your life in grease before taking it in your own hands,
blindfolded.

As a seasoned survivor of myriad treks, long hauls and
multi-country bus trips on the Gringo Trail, the Pan-American Highway,
and smaller roads across the breadth and depth of South America, we have
compiled a short list of tips for the less experienced adventurer.

The Dowbrigade’s
Rules of the Road for Andean Bus Trips

  • Try to find a bus younger than you are, and which has
    no visible welding or patched tires

  • Make sure the bus has at least TWO decent spare tires
    before boarding

  • Before leaving, identify the driver, and engage in some
    casual conversation, to establish his sobriety

  • When in the mountains, avoid taking overnight buses
  • If unable to avoid night buses, make sure to hit a
    pharmacy near the bus station
    before leaving, and stock up on barbiturates,
    pain-killers and anti-anxiety medication (no prescription needed)

  • Bring your own bread, fruit and water, or fast, because
    the dives the driver stops at are all operated by syphallitic relatives
    as part of the Dysentery City chain

  • Avoid taking buses the day before a holiday, because
    everyone will be drunk

  • Avoid taking buses the day OF a holiday, because
    everyone will be drunk

  • Avoid taking buses the day AFTER a holiday, because
    everyone will be hung over

  • Finally, we have had great success (we are writing this,
    aren’t we) with a favorite personal technique; we always try to board
    buses which have among the passengers several Priests or Nuns, on
    the theory
    that
    this will keep the driver on his best behavior. It’s worked for me,
    so far….

Anyone with a yen for adventure would be well advised to get in touch with the Dowbrigade’s son Joey at his Andean Adventure Hotel in the Switzerland of Peru. Have a Great Trip!