Trujillo, Huanchaco and Chicama, Peru
15.06.2011 - 18.06.2011 30 °C
After a day in Cusco to recover from the Inca Trail, we were then on a 20 hour bus ride bound for Lima. There we got straight on another overnight bus to Peru's north coast. Our transit stop in Lima was a short and sweet few hours, just enough time to devour a hearty Peruvian 3 course lunch and knock back some pisco sours - but not to worry as we would be back to see more of Peru's capital in a few days' time.
After a good sleep on our luxurious bus, we got off in the northern city of Trujillo. Close to the coast, but not quite close enough, we flagged down a combi (minivan) to take us the further 15km to Huanchaco, a laid-back beachside fishing town, with consistently good surf and cheap, high-quality seafood. The fish is all caught by locals of Huanchaco, who for centuries have used canoes hand-crafted from reeds for fishing in the rolling surf. We saw lots of these traditional canoes lined up along the shore.
Our hostel sat metres away from and facing the beach and hired out decent boards and wetsuits. A real home away from home - the comfy beach house came complete with 3 cute pooches, plenty of hammocks, tasty breakfasts and home-cooked dinners.
So for the next 3 days we surrendered ourselves to the warm weather, sun and beach lifestyle. It was a real shock to the system after 3 months to do some strenous exercise requiring the use of arm muscles, and after just one afternoon of paddling out both of us were aching. Nevertheless it felt great to be back in the water.
The diet staple of the Peruvian coast is 'ceviche,' raw pieces of tender fish marinated in lime or lemon juice with onions and chillies. Heaven. Our first experience of ceviche 'mixto' came piled high on a plate, a delicious combination of fish, calamari, octopus and scallops. For lunch and dinner over the next few days we ate only seafood, enjoying more ceviche, paella, fish from the grill, fish fillets bathed in a spicy tomato and onion herby sauce and chupe, a shrimp chowder soup packed with seafood, herbs and rice.
Peru's north coast is also home to the world's longest left-hand surf break at Chicama, which is 2km long on its best day. There was massive swell, bringing in 10 foot waves at Huanchaco, making this break unsurfable. So we took a daytrip one hour north with a local surfer and 4 other gringo couples to Chicama. Not much can be said about this town apart from the beach. It is a shambolic collection of beachfront restaurants and budget surf hostels. But the beach was truly incredible. Line after line of perfectly formed, left hand peeling waves of around 6 feet, rolling along from the rocky point to the long pier. Huey was definitely smiling on us this day as these were dream waves.
The way to catch these left handers was to walk out along the sharp rocky point and then wade and paddle out on a diagonal across to the line-up of unbroken waves. This was hard work thanks to a powerful current waiting to carry you all the way down the beach, which took just minutes. Trav's best and longest ride of the day took him abut 200m along the wave. Ali, taken for a ride by the current, caught a few waves as they powered towards the shore. Once you were down at the pier-end of the beach, you had to walk all the way back to the point and start again, a not so leasurely stroll of about 2km. If you didn't feel like walking back there were moto-taxis to give you and your board a ride back along the sand. Another option was to hire a hire a dinghy or jet-ski to keep taking you back out to the start of the break. We ended this awesome day all watching a gorgeous sunset over the water from the clifftop with a cold beer.
Reluctant to say goodbye to the warm weather, we departed Huanchaco the next morning and spent the afternoon checking out Trujillo. Trujillo is home to some incredible old ruins of temples and cities from pre-Inca eras dating back to 400 AD from the Moche civilization. The 'Huaca de la Luna' and 'Huaca del Sol' (Temples of the Moon and the Sun) were large sites currently being excavated and featured colourful freizes in their original condition, which told animated stories of the Moche culture's significance of the sun and moon, the seasons and astronomy for rituals of daily life and religion. The Moche were also masters at ceramics and the site's new museum had a great display of these fantastic works.
After seeing the ruins we relaxed in a cafe in Trujillo where we sat through a power black-out sipping soup-thick hot chocolate and eating cake by candlelight. Later we ate a dinner of prawn chupe until our night bus was ready to take us back to Lima.