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Published: October 11th 2010
The further south I go, the more delighted I am. After our first lovely experience with Bus Cama (where the seats recline almost all the way flat, sleep!) we arrived a little blinky but for once well rested in Trujillo. Trujillo is just a big roaring city, so after some rushed dental work for Adam we got straight onto a van that took us to the much more appealing town of Huanchaco.
Huanchaco is no Mancora when it comes to heat, but the town has alot more soul. The long misty beach stretches wide and long as the waves mysteriously crash almost diagonally to the shore. The strange long wooden boats with a pointed end that are unique to the area, are lined up along the front wall. The buildings along the shore are white and tall and the roads are wide and quiet.
We settled in at My Friend hostal, recommended by our friend, and got to explore the town. At the moment the beach is too cold for swimming and there are not many tourists, so our days were just spent absorbing the friendly vibe that we instantly felt emmanating from this town. The best way to summarise the lovely feeling of Huanchaco is to talk about its people. We came accross Hector, a New Yorker/Peruvian who runs the internet cafe and gave us detailed instructions about the buses and about how to score local women; there was the bartender who spent 15 minutes calling a Peruvian telephone company trying to set up my sim card for me and painstakingly writing down all the details; there was the woman who served us delicious curries and then kept her restaurant open just for us so we could finish our game of Pictionary in Spanish (quite a difficult game really).
And then there were the people who we stumbled across on our first night.
We walked unknowingly into a bar that happened to be the scene of a welcome home party for a son who had been away for 8 months. Instead of turning us out and enjoying their time privately we were welcomed with open arms, cold drinks and voraciously friendly conversation.
Adam and I became guests of honour and spent the evening drinking painstakingly prepared Pisco Sours and chatting and laughing in Spanglish to every single person in the room (who seemed to find us endlessly fascinating).
A group of younger people pulled out instruments (including a 10 stringed ukulele called a Charango) and started playing beautiful traditional music. Adam soon picked up a bongo and became part of the band, and I was asked to dance (and mildly, but not offensively hit on) by every young man in the room.
We were then invited back to the apartment of an American girl Elishia with a Peruvian mother who was settling in Huanchaco and her friend/lover Omar who was born in Trujillo but had lived and studied in Germany. We stayed up until 5am drinking Jamaican Rum and smoking apple flavoured sheesha and talking about every subject until the sun literally came up. We stumbled home in the foggy dawn absolutely exhausted and filled to the brim with the friendliness and openess that the locals at Huanchaco had handed to us without a thought.
So what was going to be one or two days soon extended itself languidly into four or five. We were held especially long due to a big surfing competition that was taking place in the town on the Friday and Saturday and the promise of an amazing party on the Saturday night to celebrate. We spent the days lying in the weak sun on the beach and watching some amazing surfing. Then we ate ourselves into a stupor with incredible food at practically every restaurant in town. We ate pancakes, fruit salads, spaghetti, toasties, curries, chicarron, pizza, burritos, seafood, garlic bread, olives, mayonnaise and lots and lots of 2.50 sol burgers.
On the Saturday we even went surfing! I had been teased all along the coast for being an Australian who couldn't surf, so that, coupled with Adams enthusiasm and a discount from our lovely new friend Carlos, meant that I found myself struggling into a soggy wetsuit and heading for the beach.
The water was freezing and the waves were enormous (or seemed so to me) but I felt safe with the guidance of the grinning local Tommy who laughed and gesticulated his way through the lesson. We may have been somewhat of a spectacle learning the moves on the beach, because a whole group of locals gathered about 4 metres away from us and watched every action. It was hard and I kept getting knocked off before I could get on my knees, but then suddenly I was up! First I just surfed on my knees but then I was actually standing (albeit a little crookedly) whooping and laughing until I finally fell off! Tommy gave me a giant grin and a thumbs up and I was thrilled.
Eventually we dragged ourselves from the town, but not before witnessing the giant spectacle of the political rallys that are traipsing all over Peru. There is an election for Mayor happening on October 3rd and the country is positively bursting with it. The parades took us a little by surprise. Suddenly there was loud big band music and we saw a giant procession heading towards us down the street. Cars hooted, drums and trumpets blared, women in huge colourful dresses danced and skipped, people shouted and blew horns and waved balloons and every tuk tuk in town trailed past pasted all over with the signs of one of the candidates. Later said candidate stood on the podium and shouted about things like honesty and hard work to the cheers of the crowd. It was overwhelming and perhaps I am a little cynical but to me smacked of politicans using money, bright colours and big noises to win over the people.
So on Sunday night we caught a van back to Trujillo to find a bus to Huaraz. Naiively we thought that this would be easy. But first one and then another bus company (a taxi ride away) told us they were full until the next night! Despairing, tired and frustrated we caught a taxi to one final bus station to beg for a spot and it seemed that third time was lucky! At 8:55 we paid for tickets for a bus at 9pm to Huaraz! It was only semi-cama (only reclining half the way) but they gave us tea and biscuits and we didn't care. By that point we just wanted to get going to the next stop on our adventure!
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