Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's go there, to see better

Around 5pm on the 3rd of March we arrived in the insanity that is Lima. Any anxiety I had previously had in an urban setting was immediately dwarfed by the spastic hive that is Lima. People everywhere. Cars everywhere. Everything making noise.

Through Kaitlin's grace we made contact with our couchsurfing host - Camillo - met him outside his work - received the key and instructions as to how to find his flat - took a succession of buses:

·Without a subway, the place is totally dependent upon automobiles and there aren't enough combis (mini-buses) or collectivos to quench the demand of the more than seven million residents of Lima. With so much traffic, so much exhaust, and only a marginal attempt at order by the traffic police - what should have been a twenty minute ride in a subte or city bus, became over an hour standing and shifting as we waited our turn to move a block or two·

- and scurried into his flat in his dodgey side of town (which can be any side of town at night in an unfamiliar city when you have a backpack strapped on).

We entered and ran into some Brazilians that said there were some Germans staying, and a french guy, and some quiet people. Immediately I thought of Antti and Laura and sure enough - ten minutes later they were walking through the door. Everything was okay again...

The next day we took a combi to Miraflores. Walked, ate, and made our way to the more "artsy" district Barranco. Our quest was a cafe con leche for Laura and sure enough we found what was presented as cafe con leche. Antti, Kaitlin, and I enjoyed our juices and Laura sipped her milky concoction.

From there we made our way to the Plaza de Armas which is where the Franciscan Monestery held tours of their catacombs. Something like 25,000 people buried under the space. Quite creepy. I much prefered the part of the tour that explained the paintings and the multiple layers of friezes from times long past.

By the time our tour had ended, night had fallen on the Plaza de Armas and though up until this point I had been less than enchanted with the rather lackluster gridlocked capital - the plaza was magical. It felt immediately like I was thousands of miles from anywhere I have ever been - unlike any space I had seen in Argentina, Uruguay, or Chile.

But we had to go.. we planned to leave early the next morning - to head north to Trujillo for sun, surf, and ruins.

The eight hour bus ride north was easily forgettable. Standards for buses in Peru are perhaps on par for SA (and certainly better than the horror stories Antti and Laura told about Bolivia) - but I was much happier being spoiled by Argentine and Chilean buses - is it too much to ask for air conditioning, or a window that will open?

As always, we arrived, and immediately looked for a cab from Trujillo - 12km north to Huanchaco.


Instant highlight for me. The moment I saw the surf - I knew this would be a great part of the trip for me. After scoping out the area: a few test runs bodysurfing and seeing the range of surf shops in town - it was time to grab a board.

It had been at least two years since the last time I had surfed - and still I had no experience beyond the pee-wee waves of Lake Myrtle. Suffice it to say, the rust showed in my salty stomach as I gulped a few mouthfulls of seawater before I even came close to standing.

But eventually the timing and the technic came back and though I wasn't shredding like the big boys - I rode a few all the way home.

Easily another highlight for me was the evening Antti and I stepped into a pick-up game on a concrete court just off the beach. It was a familiar scene, the two gringos asking to play and a few snickers ripple through the group. Then the game starts and it's not long before genuine surprise is dabbled over the locals - and at the end everyone shakes your hand and tells you when they're are playing tomorrow.

Last, but certainly not least, was our excursion to the Chimu ruins of Chan Chan, Huaca Arco Iris (Rainbow Temple), Huaca Dragón (Dragon Temple), and the Moche Huaca de la Luna (Temple of the Moon) and Huaca del Sol (Temple of the Sun).

The sheer size of Chan Chan is impressive enough (the largest adobe structure in the world). You can see the ruins of Chan Chan scattered for kilometers between Trujillo and Huanchaco. The wall carvings are quite interesting, but my favorite aspect was the ritual pool that is still intact - after wandering through a labrynth of mud suddenly we found ourselves in a space with clear water, swaying green reeds, and waterfowls skimming to and fro.

Still, easily my favorite ruin was the Temple of the Moon. Because the Moche completely covered their old temples every hundred years, archeologist have been able to remove layers at the Temple of the Moon and reveal wall paintings that are strikingly intact:

With so much packed into only three days, it was no surprise that our time in Huanchaco flew by. With the Antti and Laura needing to make their way to Quito (from which they will fly home soon) - we resolved to leave. Kaitlin and I to what was explained as the best surf north of Trujillo - Mancora.. and Antti and Laura continuing on to Guayquil/Quito.


Around six in the morning our bus arrived in Máncora. Hugs were exchanged and then our friends were gone for a third time...

Our four days in Máncora have been okay. Our hostel is more like a B&B which has left us feeling awkward at times (it's strange to have someone changing your sheets and emptying your trash bin after months of party hostels, flats, etc..). The location (on a hill above the town) has been ideal for relaxed book reading, but also made trips to the water a bit of an ordeal.

Throw in the fact that I have been suffering the ill-effects of three straight days in the sun..and our Antti and Laura withdrawls - it has been a melancholy ending to Peru.

That being said, we are excited to move on to Ecuador. We have arranged couchsurfing in Guayquil (finally someone came through!) and will move on to more beach in Ayampe - where the water is only getting warmer.

Last thought: Kaitlin and I had the startling realization today that we have just over three weeks left down here. Taking into account that we will be blazing through Ecuador (spending no more than three days in one place) - next thing we know we'll be in Cartagena on the tale end of this journey. In a moment it is shocking, but I know that it feels right. Up to this point, we have done well. Yes, we could have stayed some places longer and left some places earlier, but overall - everything feels right and good.

More from Ecuador..

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting you had such a different experience than I in Huanchaco and Lima. Sorry to hear that you've only 3 weeks left- it feels a bit like someone stripped your bedsheet from under you while you were sleeping, no?