Day 57 Leaning into the desert, dirtiest city ever and surfer hangout

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South America » Peru » La Libertad » Huanchaco
July 24th 2015
Published: July 25th 2015
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Distance driven today: 263 miles / 423 km

Cumulative distance driven: 10,343 miles / 16,645 km

Today’s trip: Piura to Huanchaco, Peru

Windy desserts crossed: 1

Found Peru’s surfer hangout: yes, Hunachaco

Only minutes after we started riding this morning, we found ourselves in the Sechura desert, which is one of the many deserts along the Peruvian coast. Even though the road was straight for several hours and the traffic was relatively light, driving turned out to be rather challenging. A very strong side win, blowing in from the Pacific Coast, constantly tried to blow our heavy loaded bike off the road and into the sand dunes on the side of the road. I had to lean the bike heavily into the wind to counteract the forces of the wind, constantly having to adjust for the variation of the wind forces. For those of you that have had to ride in such strong side winds, you know the feeling. Driving becomes very intense and you have to constantly pay attention to literally not drift off the road.

Halfway through the desert, we arrived to the city of Chiclayo. Both of us have traveled to many poor and less organized cities in the world before, but in Chiclayo it quickly become evident that the city can easily compete for being one of the dirtiest and unorganized cities around. Garbage bags were lying everywhere along the streets, on the streets and outside house entrances. The strong winds that constantly plague the city in the middle of the desert probably help spread the garbage even more. Extremely poor road conditions inside the city, with enormous potholes on central streets, as well as the majority of streets being rough dirt roads rather than paved, contribute to the rather miserable atmosphere in the city. Chiclayo is definitely not on our list of places to ever revisit for sure.

If Chiclayo had dampened our spirits, our final destination for today, which is the coastal town of Hunachaco, turned out to be exactly the opposite. Just a 10 min. drive outside the regional hub of Trujillo on the coast, Hunachaco turned out to be a very agreeable small surfer hangout. Lots of surf shops, restaurants and bars, combined with many local and international wave surfers hanging out on the beach, made for a surprising positive experience. Hunachaco has that great feeling of a laid-back and cool place where you can take it easy and go at your pace. For a change, we decided to not stay at a hotel, but rather found a contemporary apartment, with a great sea view, to rent.

No visit to Peru would be complete without drinking Inca Cola. It is the main soft drink in the country, with larger market share than Coca Cola, which in today’s world with globalized brands is quite an accomplishment. Strangely enough, when talking to Peruvians, one gets the feeling that Inca Kola is a national icon and a source of patriotism in Peru. Inca Kola is yellowish-gold in color, and it has an unusual sweet, fruity flavor which many, including Zoe and me, say resembles bubblegum! In either case we both like Inca Cola and feel that we have to order one whenever we make a rest stop during our riding here in Peru.

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