Pacasmayo II, Huanchaco II 29-31 May
[Note: nearly all photographs from our return to these towns are inaccessible pending further recovery work on a recalcitrant external hard-drive.
Returning to Pacasmayo feels like returning home. (It’s particularly gratifying because our stomachs have been extremely upset since about an hour outside Cajamarca.) We stay in the same seaside room of the Hotel Pakatnamu that we stayed in on our first night in Pacasmayo a month ago.
We awaken to sea sounds, and have a light breakfast on the downstairs balcony – then spend a pleasant hour chatting with J & S over coffee on the balcony just outside our room. White sea birds forage in the shallow vestiges of the waves until a pair of dogs chase them. (I have left the breakfast table to photograph them, but on my way to the sand I glance down to inspect footing and look up again to see the two running dogs and no birds.) The dogs hang around for awhile, sitting close to each other on the sand, alert for returning birds, then disappear. Something about their freedom and obvious friendship enriches the morning, already blessed with bright sunlight on the nearly deserted marine parade and the silver sea beyond it.
Seeing J and S again is enjoyable. We regale them with a brief account of our journey. Like everyone, they react to our visit to Huancabamba, first with surprise and then with the word “brujos.” Ragna’s account of our abortive trip with the shark’s shaman amuses them. S says we’ve already seen more of Peru than she has.
After barely more than an hour’s drive, we approach Huanchaco. We stop in the same gas station, just before the traffic circle outside Huanchaco, that we visited as we headed north, a month ago. [We left Huanchaco April 29, and this morning is May 30.] When I walk into the nearly deserted lobby, the lady who runs the hotel recognizes me and says “Jooooolaaaaa,” making the word sound four or five times as long as it normally would, expressing a little surprise, substantial delight, and some amusement. When Ragna comes in, the woman gushes, “Que linda!” and gives her a big hug and kiss.
I am still a bit weak and my stomach is still a bit queasy, and after our trip to the mall for medical supplies and ice cream, I rest and shower while Ragna walks on the beach. I am excited about our imminent arrival in the Cordillera Blanca. I cannot explain it, but the place sparked by far the greatest anticipation of anything I read in the Lonely Planet’s book on Peru before we came here; and reading the section more closely now, I am even more excited – although I suspect my weakness and queasy stomach will delay our departure until very early Tuesday morning.
It has been a new experience to revisit Cajamarca, Pacasmayo, and now Huanchaco.
Huanchaco is a warm and inviting place. Simple, friendly . . . Our simple hotel, the plain little restaurants with fresh fish, the Belgian woman’s place, the beach and traditional fishing boats, the tranquillity of the village. One could live here – with a view of the surf and Trujillo’s proximity. Easily.
We have had some splendid moments in Peru. Our afternoon in La Encantada. Our initial arrival in Pacasmayo, in bright mid-day sunlight, and the town’s sleepy atmosphere and fading colonial grandeur. The bracing drive to the pass on the way from Huancabamba to Jaen, then the delightful descent through fertile rainforest. Spending time with people in Sondor. A couple of wonderful meals, in Piura and Tarapoto. The carrot people. The drive down through Achupas and Chanchillo. The walk to Karajia with the three little sisters. Kuelap. Gocta. The amusing day with the radio people in Huancabamba.
I don’t suppose my photographs will communicate the wonder and joy of it all.
And we haven’t yet seen the Cordillera Blanca, Cusco, Macchu Pichu, Lake Titicaca, or the true Amazon!
At supper in Huanchaco, back at the Belgian woman’s restaurant, we are finishing supper as two boys come up onto the terrace to beg. I do not give them money, but direct them to sit down, and order two ice cream sundaes for them. They are so extremely delighted as they eat them, and perhaps also at the pleasure of sitting there as guests for a few minutes rather than darting onto and off the terrace seeking handouts, that I shoot a photo of them. Their grins are so infectious that I’m probably just as delighted as they are. The waiter seems to be amused too. He certainly isn’t offended. The boys make sure to thank me, and when we leave we shake hands with them and they say “Ciao,” just as a couple of young girls, with a third who can’t be more than three years old, come by hoping to get a share.
I invite them to walk with me to the small bakery and ice-cream shop at which we usually stop as we walk home. They say something to a woman who has been going through the garbage can by the street, and follow us. I give them each an ice-cream cone as we buy some stuff to take with us in the morning. They are very grateful, but afterward, realizing that it is their mother we’d seen going through the garbage, I regret not having given her something. Money. Christ but it must be tough raising three kids, perhaps more, with her financial situation.
Pacasmayo: Hotel Pakatnamu. S./ 155 for the night, including breakfast. [See discussion in IV. Pacasmayo.]
Huanchaco: El Ancra. S./ 50 for the night. [See discussion in III. Huanchaco.]
[see discussions in III. Huanchaco and IV. Pacasmayo]