I’d like to say that the month we’ve just spent at the beach in northern Peru was a necessary pit-stop, a chance to get fit by jogging daily, perhaps, or the perfect opportunity to brush up on some Spanish verbs.
But really we were just plumbing previously unchartered depths of laziness. Okay, so we had decided to order a few van bits and pieces and we did have to wait for them to arrive, but it wasn’t like we had broken down or anything (as if!– ed). We could have been more active than a couple of two-toed sloths, but we just couldn’t be bothered.
So for the first time in over a year we just beached ourselves, got a tan, stared at the waves and sunsets, shopped at the market, built barbeque fires and read a lot of books. We tried, and failed, to become accustomed to the campsite owner’s Peruvian hairless dogs, which are quite the strangest, aloof creatures. Things got fixed. I sewed some curtains. I even managed to motivate myself to dust off the copy of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that had been languishing, ignored, in the van for more than 900 days. Now if that’s not a worthwhile achievement, I don’t know what is.
Just before we left we had the good fortune to meet Peruvian-British couple, Elizabeth and Paul, who live in Lima. Within moments of meeting, Elizabeth insisted on cooking us a Peruvian meal and who were we to refuse? She turned up armed with all the ingredients for a lomo saltado (chicken version) and set to work, cooking up a delicious meal complete with the traditional chips and rice combo. “I’ve never cooked in a car before,” she said, deftly juggling a million dishes in our miniscule kitchen.
We finally dragged ourselves away from Zorritos last week and headed south down through Peru’s coastal desert. Our inactivity had given us the urge to just drive and drive and drive.
We passed through hundreds of kilometres of desert, oil plants, and weird little ‘frontier-style’ towns, pulling off the road for occasional sand-blasted snack and coffee stops.
We spent three nights stopping off at whatever we could find as the day was coming to a close – a mosquito-infested restaurant garden, a rudimentary truck stop and possibly the wierdest hippy encampment/hostel we’ve ever encountered. On an unattractive, stinky stretch of the coast near the city of Chiclayo, the Katuwira Lodge looked to us to be dilapidated and abandoned when we first arrived. It was a ramshackle collection of peeling structures – triangle casitas, wooden cabins and odd-looking domes. All the nearby food stalls on the beach looked like they hadn’t been open in years. The whole place was downright creepy, complete with jangling wind chimes and plastic fairground toys randomly lying around. Basically it was the perfect setting for a horror movie, perhaps featuring hapless travellers who wander into the lair and, after dark, are bludgeoned to death by the caretaker.
But the sun was setting and we didn’t want to hunt for anything else. The hostel was on a large piece of land with lots of space. “Let’s pull in and see if we can just quietly park here anyway,” said Jeremy. As we pulled round we saw a face appearing in a doorway – a travelling family were babysitting the place during, as they called it, “no season” – hurray!
“It’s out of season,” they said, “but you can stay”. “Great”, I said, thinking “but there’s NO WAY I’m going to the toilet on my own in the middle of the night…”.
Glad that we hadn’t been murdered in our beds, we left early the next morning and headed for the town of Huanchaco, a touristy beach place where a proper campsite, friends, and cocktails awaited.
We love the ebb and flow of being on the road. Getting dusty and grimy for a few days, then celebrating reaching your destination with a shower, laundry and a nice spot to spread out and get organised again. Then the feet start to itch, and you’re off again.
In Huanchaco we’ve enjoyed having a social life again, with Karin and Coen of Landcruising Adventure who are as just as appreciative of a pisco sour cocktail as we are.
We’ve also been spending a bit of time trying to resolve a little conundrum with the van – the mystery of the disappearing coolant. We hope we’re getting somewhere with that, and no doubt we’ll keep you posted.
We’ll soon be heading inland to the mountains, where we’ll be donning the rain gear and enjoying a bit of long-awaited trekking.
After weeks of lounging and a few too many cocktails, it’s about time we stopped being so lazy.
Things we now know to be true: Sloths have a commendable approach to life.
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