Huanchaco, Peru – Nothing to do but Surf

Huanchaco, Peru.

The north coast of Peru and 12 km from Trujillo. (a day on a bus from Lima!)

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We had stopped by this town for lunch and I felt in love with the surfing town atmosphere of it and swore I would be back. And so here I was.

They are famous for these totoras, boats fisherman used to use and they are placed everywhere on the beach.

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Tourist photo and souvenir key chains! Cute!

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It’s not the most beautiful beach town, but it has its charms. The once fishing town is tiny, it’s a cost town everything within a 10-15 min walk away. It has some restaurants and shops for the tourists, but not too lavish, surf shops and souvenir shops, the small restaurants that serve S. 12 ($4) lunch menus (including appetizer, main and a soft drink!), the markets that sell everything out in the air from veggies to meat to fish to bread (there’s no supermarkets).

The town & its colourful buses:

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The markets:

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The beaches have good constant waves so great to surf and observe but not the beautiful kind that you want to lay and hang out. There are actually quite a bit of rocks and pretty painful to the foot.  Many people seem to just like hanging out and looking at the ocean.

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So I made my way over to continue my practice on surfing and that’s just what I did.

The rentals were incredibly cheap. I rented at place called Muchik right by the water for only S. 20 / day (that is $7)!! The boards aren’t that great, but actually it did me good, because apparently I am also a destroyer of surf boards.

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Here’s the surf.

Its constant easy surf. The current not too strong for beginners. The only thing was the rocks by the shore at certain spots. It’s difficult to stand against the current and sometimes you end up being pushed into them, as much as you try to stop it.

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5 days of surf.

  • 1 broken fin (pushed into the rocks unintentionally) – Sorry! I got pushed by the current!
  • 1 dented top of the board – Sorry! I got pushed by the current Again! I’m so embarrassed!
  • 1 chipped side off the board – Umm.. this is the third time. You guys should make stronger boards!!!

So, I still hold my name as the “Desastrada” which my Brasil friends were calling me. But hey, on the positive side, I won’t destroy anything if I wasn’t trying right? So it’s all good. 🙂 

The good things is they only charge 50% of the repair cost it ended up costing me only S. 30 ($10) so the damage wasn’t so bad for my wallet. It was however quite damaging to my ego and motivation to surf though. But I’ll try again!

Besides surfing, there was not much to do so I spent a lot of time at the hostel, hanging out and cooking and writing. I wrote on my previous article about a good hostel, but a place to hang out and relax is so essential to your stay.

Frog’s Chillhouse – as per its name was a good place to chill and hang out. Large open lounge spaces, game areas, kitchen and rooftop balconies. They are still new and things are clean and pretty so that added to the pleasant stay.

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Cooking! French people making bread!

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Also, I went jogging in the morning and was shocked and sad to see how dirty the beaches actually were. There was trash everywhere!! and I couldn’t believe so much could be left behind. I had notices people threw things out (even outside of buses)  a lot here, but not to this extent!

I was thinking what I could do to help? Should I just start picking up or should I think of a way to more fundamentally help? What can I do in the short time here? Then I saw two ladies working at it. One raking them together and one stuffing into a bag.

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I went up to them and expressed my sadness and my will to help. Though they were reluctant at first, they found me some gloves and a bag and I was one of the ladies. And we worked, silently picking up garbage, filling up the bag and replacing it with another.

 

In the 2-3 hours we worked, we filled up probably a good 10 large garbage bags. The garbage was anything from candy wrappers, large plastic sheet, condoms (and lots of it!) to toys, nets, shoes. I couldn’t believe that people would leave this behind! But it turns out, the washed up to the beach every single morning. Every single morning, the ladies comb the beaches to yet another load full of garbage.

This is before & close up of the beach

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And this is after & the close up of the beach

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See the difference?

They tell me that they work 6 days a week from 6 in the morning to 2 (because the sun is so strong), with a wage of S. 650 ($200) / month. Raking, collecting and bagging garbage with no lunch or rest. It is really hard physical labor and I felt for them. This is one of the most important jobs for Huanchaco if they want tourism to bloom so I hope there can be more help and better wages for these hard-working ladies behind the scene.

I’m sure my 3 hours of help wasn’t much in labor, but I hope it was time well spent for all of us. For me, I was able to talk, understand and think of what I could do beyond just being a traveler. Is there any volunteer work that I can do, can I get involved an get something back to the communities that I travel to? For the ladies, I hope it was a fun time getting to know a foreigner and to be appreciated how important their job is to the city. We talked about the job, the working conditions, Japan and they even talked about coming! But upon hearing the prices of the tickets, asked if I had a bag big enough. haha. Lovely ladies. I’m glad I took the courage to walk up to them that morning.

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I wanted Huanchaco to be chill time and surfing time until I was satisfied and it was just that. Happy to have stopped here but now charged up for the next adventure.

Next stop: Huaraz. A 8 hour bus ride away in the 3,000m altitude of the Andes mountains. I heard so many traveler rave about it so looking forward to the unbelievable mountain scenery and all the hiking!

 

 

Huaraz, Peru – Acclimatising with Lake Willcacocha

(Skipping over Trujillo, Chiclayo and Huanchaco for now to write down Huaraz while it’s still hot)

I had heard so many tourist rave about their amazing experience in Huraraz. The four-day trek around Santa Cruz, the ice climbing, the national park is one of the top destinations for trekking in the world so I decided on Huaraz as my next designation after 5 days of surfing in Huanchaco.

From Trujillo, Huaraz is a 8 hour bus ride south-east. It is the entry city to the UNESCO world heritage Huascaran National Park and sits in the Andes at 3,075m altitude. It mountains and glaciers are top rated destinations for international trekkers, rock climbers and even ice climbers.

The mountains range in the 3,000 – 6,000m so there were many stories on altitude sickness and the banging headaches, the throwing up and the injections so I would need to be very careful in adjusting and take a few days adjusting and see how my body responds.

The 8 hour night bus on LINEA was great. Big comfy seats gave me a lovely sleep. I was even cracking up at my own dream, oh how the mind works! It was a joke battle with my friends, but mind-blowing to think that my mind is capable to create these contents and scenarios that crack me even while I am unconscious. I loved it! I enjoyed it so much that by the time I was woken up, there was none on the bus and I was safely in Huaraz.

Huaraz’s surrounding is gorgeous with the panoramic view of the mountains and the glaciers. This is the view from my hostel, Caroline Lodging.

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The city is pretty big (22nd largest in Peru) and busy, We walked around trying to get adjusted to the altitude the first day and the impression was pretty Damn, its Wild!

For example,

Full roast pig on the streets. The woman picks at the meat with her bare hands and sells it off piece by piece. The meat is so soft and juicy and the skin is salty and crisp! It was so wild and good! I tried the in a sandwich (prepared by her bare hands) for S. 5 ($1.50)

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Also, a popular street food is boiled quail eggs. You get like 5-6 of these soft snacks with spicy sauce. All of S. 1 (about 30 cents)

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And chicks in a box. The girl was buying 5-6 chicks for S. 3 (about a $1)

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My first alpaca sighting. Ya, it was unnatural and forced, but nonetheless.

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I was being really careful to listen to my body and I felt my body was a bit tired and heavy (not just because I’ve been stuffing myself) and climbing up a flight of stairs, I was really out of breath so I took it easy and slept to rest my body.

The second day, I decided to take a trek to Lake Willcacacocha, which was slightly higher at 3,753m and see how I respond. Just as a reference, Mt. Fuji in Japan is 3,776 so it’s about the same height and here it was considered the “easy trek to get your body acquainted” A short 20 min collective bus (local bus for S. 1) from Huaraz and its an 1 1/2 hike up.

And no, it was not an “easy trek” for me at all.

Right off the bat, I was out of breath after 1 min of climbing. So you climb, rest and climb and rest. While I am taking my time, the locals with the donkeys obviously glide past me, even in their pretty little outfits. The local ladies (of all ages) dress in their puffed out skirts and colorful cardigans and high hats. So cute! and climb without a sweat!

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The scenery has absolutely gorgeous walking up which pushed me forward one meter at a time.

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You start seeing the glaciers more and more as you go up.

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Antoino, a local guy accompanied me up to the top. He apparently lives on the top of the hill though I had my suspicion that he was going to charge me at the end or that he was going to ambush me with his friends and rob me somewhere in the mountain but he turned out to be just a nice local that wanted to hang out and make sure we get there safely and get the best views. Sorry Antonio!

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After a painful and oxygen needd hour and a half to the top, here is what you see! The beautiful lake!

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And the pretty little donkeys! They’re actually there to transport the tools and food for the tourists that go on tours.

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And THE VIEW.

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And my tacky “Taking it all in, I’m ON TOP OF THE WORLD!!!” shot.

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If this is just the beginners course, I don’t know how much more excited I’ll be with the other more serious treks!

Very excited for what lies ahead.

But first I still have to rest a bit and get acclimatised. Altitude sickness is serious!

Entering Peru – Lima & Chicama

Its been a while since my last update but on the 3rd month of travel now in South America and in Peru.
After Iguazu Falls (Brazil), I entered into Paraguay visiting my friend working there and was introduced to the real lives of  Paraguayan and Paraguayan Japanese people and the country side of Paraguay. That is another story I am working on, but travel is so quick, its been impossible to keep up to date. So starting with Peru.
So Peru!
It’s been over 2 weeks and a half since I’ve been here quite some land covered.
I’ve been accompanying my Peruvian friend living in Japan, back here for a home visit.
From Asuncion (Paraguay), I flew into Lima, . Enjoyed Lima for 2 days then up north to the secluded surf town of Chicama.
Surfing for 5 days then to Trujillo and near by ancient historical ruins to get a bit of culture, then to Chiclayo to my friend’s childhood city. After, coming back south to the surf town of Huanchaco and surfing and relaxing for 5 days then now to Huaraz, the mountains in the central Peru.
Highlights:

Lima: The capital and the entry point for international.  A big city with a reputation for its gastronomy, history and culture.

We stayed in the area of Miraflores, which is a trendy, modern and very pretty area that lies by the coast of Lima. The the coast line is not palmy beaches but rather a cliffy edge high rise where the city resides, about 5 stories higher than the beach itself. IMG_4840 IMG_4841 IMG_4845

The winds were always strong so was a bit scary at the top of the cliff where beautiful parks resides, and thank god for the Peruvians that don’t drink openly all the time like the Brazilians. I’m sure there will be a lot of incidences if it were in Brazil.

The city is bustling and busy with honking cars and buses, lots of brick box houses and lot so of street vendors. My first impression was that it was vey “South America” and reminded me a bit of South East Asia (like Indonesia, or Vietnam cities).

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The historical centre and some Peruvian football fans after the game.

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I’ve heard a lot about Peruvian food from other traveler and they were right. Peruvian food is awesome and complex.
The flavour combination is hard to identify sometimes but there is a hint of familiarity for me due to the influence of Asian tastes (soy) included. Some of my favourites have been:
Ceviche, Lamb and Rice
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Lomo Saltado (Beef with vegetables)
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Some home cooking. Corn Paste with rice and salad
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Chicama – After Lima, we made our way up north to the surf town of Chicama ( about a 1 1/2 hour car ride from Trujillo)
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This is famous for the longest left surf in the world. The waves are never breaking and lasting sometimes for 1 -2 km, and coming in so orderly and parallel like a machine, so paradise of surfers. It was an amazing sight to look at especially against the dry mountains, cliffs and the sand dunes it is next to.
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One surfer described to me that people are so in AWE of being able to ride one single wave for so long, they all have an orgasmic face
I was only learning but the 5 days was enough to get me hooked. I was lucky to get help from a friendly local Evan who taught me, and pushed me to stand and catch the wave. Though the current is so strong and it takes a tremendous effort to get out, it is well worth it when you catch that one wave and I now understand the obsession over surf. I just want to do it again and again.
The mountains and the sand dunes are an incredible sight to walk through.
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The view from the hotel, Chicama Resorts.
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Going out for a surf!
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Its been since Rio that I stay in a hotel, let alone, a resort and my was it good.
It was so good that I spent the first day just chilling in bed and enjoying the pool, the clean and soft linens and the powerful shower.
Now I regret not surfing the first day but the temporary oasis drew me into the best and longest sessions of sleep in my trip.
Traveling is fun and exciting but on the contrary, it’s actually a lot of stress and not comfortable. Going from place to place, getting to know the facility, the bed, settling in,  and living out of a bag. So this was my guilty guilty pleasure I took advantage of and embraced with all my body.
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Next to some cultural experiences with the ancient ruins up north!