Monday, August 31, 2009
Same ocean. Different beach.
If first impressions are everything, Peru was failing miserably. Combined with getting robbed in Ecuador just a few weeks previously our mood was understandably low. But we were hoping that getting out of Mancor and the change of scenery would help fix that. Plus who wants to read about our tales of woe and misery. So the next morning we checked out of the dodgy Sol y Mar hotel and trudged down the strip to catch our bus.
The bus ride was actually two. The first was a two hour ride to Piura where we transferred to another long distance bus that took us all the way to Trujillo. The ride was rather unremarkable and this was a good thing – we didn’t need any more excitement – and we arrived in Trujillo after dark. But we weren’t even staying there. We had decided to stay out in the beach suburb of Huanchaco and now had to figure out how to get there. Luckily there were plenty of Peruvian taxi drivers (now edging out the Hondurans as my least favourite species) to whisk us away. The bus station was nowhere near the one marked on our Lonely Planet map and we had no clue where we were in the city and therefore no clue how to catch the local bus to Huanchaco. So we grudgingly accepted what I knew was an overpriced taxi ride out to the beach town. But it was worth it. After roughing it in Mancora, the La Casa Suisse Hostel was a pleasant surprise. It was clean and comfortable and welcoming. And it was easy to finally exhale and get a good nights’ sleep.
The next morning it was time to find out if the rest of Huanchaco was as nice as the hostel. After catching up on some photo uploading and other boring stuff we headed out, ready to face whatever crap Peru decided to throw at us this time. Luckily Huanchaco was a lot like the hostel. The beach, while less beautiful than Mancora, stretched as far as we could see and was peaceful. There were no touts or hawkers and just a sprinkling of tourists, including a few learning to surf in the smaller waves. There was a large pier (photo above) dotted with locals all trying to catch tonight’s dinner. They were outnumbered by pelicans stalking the fishermen in an attempt to coax some of the fish bait into their mouths. One fisherman was playing with the pelicans – throwing one a large plastic fish-shaped lure and laughing as the greedy pelicans gobbled them up only to spit them out immediately then glaring at the fisherman until he threw him an actual fish.
Huanchaco’s beaches were so long and civilized that we actually wanted to spend time on them. We watched the surfers and then found a woman selling grilled kebabs for about a $1 each. We shared one as we watched the beginner surfers on one side of the pier and the pros in the bigger waves on the other. Adrian was inspired and announced that he wanted to give it a go. So we popped into the nearest surf school (recommended by our hostel) and signed him up for a lesson. Why not me too? Well if I went surfing who would be there to document Adrian’s attempt at getting up? Plus the water wasn’t exactly warm.
In keeping with the new surfing theme, we checked out the original Peruvian surfboards that Huanchaco is famous for. Made out of bundles of reeds they were more boat than board. Originally used by locals to fish off shore but now shuttle daring tourists into the waves for a wet ride. At one time they must have been made of nothing but reeds, but now we noticed a Styrofoam core peeking through the gaps in the reeds. We were offered a ride but passed and instead hit up the skewer lady for a cheap dinner. It was a day of doing nothing but it was just what we needed. Our mood had improved and as the sun set, our hatred of Peru was now more of a dislike.