Huanchaco, Peru, where the desert meets the sea, and the dry breeze cools the skin while the sun warms the soul.
We took the overnight bus from Cuenca, Ecuador to Chiclayo, Peru. In the early hours, I awoke. Moving the window curtain aside, I peered out to take in my first glimpse of Peru. The land lay flat and desolate before me.
Trash covered the cracking sand as though it were some strange, sad desert flower.
Soon a village appeared. Our bus kicked up clouds of billowing dust from the unpaved streets, coating everything.
The homes made of mud bricks showed signs of weeping from the last rain.
I wondered where we would stay.
I came with few expectations of Peru. We heard vastly different reviews from travelers we’ve met along the way. Some loved it. Some hated it.
The bus finally rolled into Chiclayo and we disembarked. Donning our packs we stepped out of the dusty station to find lodging for the night.
FINDING A ROOM IN PERU
One hotel advertised 25 soles ($8 USD) for a single but then quoted 80 soles for double. The math didn’t add up so I questioned it. The 25 is per hour. We moved on down the street.
At Hospedaje Z, we knocked on the door and waited for them to open the gate. Mosquitoes buzzed around me as Trin inquired about a room. It was only 30 soles for the night with a private bath. We took it.
The room had mosquitoes but also had a fan so we knew we could cover up with the sheet and use the fan to keep the creatures off our face. Leaving our packs in the room we went out to see the city.
FOOD IN PERU
First, we wanted some coffee. We stopped to inquire at a few places but none of them sold coffee. It reminded us of Otavalo where coffee was scarce unlike in Colombia, still in our minds one of the top places to visit, where there is a tinto on every street corner.
We stopped at Buffalo Resto Bar. The owner was so friendly and he had a huge smile on his face. He did not have coffee but he walked out of the shop with us to give directions. Then he waited to make sure we understood the way. Chiclayo is called the friendly city, and we were seeing the reason for it.
Halfway down the street we turned around, walked back to Buffalo’s and ordered lunch. Coffee can wait.
Trin had been anticipating Peru for the food and it did not disappoint. It was the BEST lunch I’ve had in ages.
ART IN PERU
Despite the dust and poverty, there is art here. Beautiful cakes, beautifully decorated businesses and beautiful people.
In Trujillo, where we went a few days later, there is a beautiful wall over 1 km long covered in mosaic artwork. After walking the full kilometer I blew out a long breath and said, “well that was impressive.”
“But wait,” Trin said, “there’s more!”
We turned the corner and the wall continued!
POOR STRUCTURES WITH BEAUTY INSIDE
We stayed only one night in Chiclayo and moved on to the coastal town of Huanchaco. Our Airbnb lodging had a balcony with a view over plain brick homes seemingly half finished. Our room was nice and had no mosquitoes!
At the beach, we purchased picarones for the first time. Very good, please try it if you are ever in Peru.
Trin has been waiting over a year to try the ceviche in Peru. The day had arrived and he had a huge smile on his face. It was all so delicious.
In the morning the town is sleepy but at night the docks are full and the music drifts through the streets. This is a surfers town.
We sat on the balcony at night listening to California Love from a nearby bar as we sipped our beer and enjoyed the evening breeze.
The mud-brick homes, dusty streets, all things that humans make are just things. It is the people, the true art of life, and the unmarred designs of nature that make a place. These are the stuff of life and the beauty of the world.
Blue door tip:
- What to expect for your first visit to Peru? Don’t. Don’t expect, come with a blank slate for Peru and fill it with beautiful things after you arrive.
- Litter is a problem many places in the world. Do your part by reducing your use of plastic. We have been using the same refillable water bottles since 2016. Our reusable tote bags (given to us by our realtor in North Carolina!) have greatly reduced the need for single use plastics. Plus, the reusable bags carry more and don’t break as we are walking home!