Huanchaco Peru

Frank at the beach, these are boats made from reeds

When you travel to Trujillo, you do so for the archeological history. We awoke from our all night bus trip at 5:30 am and arrived at 6:15 am. The best bus sleep I’ve ever had. Out of the bus-catch a cab. We chose to decompress and actually stay at the nearby beach town of Huanchaco. I used my Spanish “Dime la coste Hauna Chauncs? Response S/20. “OK”, I said. (S/20 = $7). We were booked at Casa La Amelia, a small place right on the beach, near the portion of the waterfront favored by less experienced surfer dudes and chicas from around the world. The waves really do crash into shore. The ocean water is cold. The weather is funny—overcast until noon in this month-no sunshine until late afternoon.  But when the sun is out, it is like paradise. And that is what I liked about the place. I could sit on the second story deck in front of my bungalow and watch/hear the waves crash and write notes. At dusk, the sun set directly over the double gates of the property.  Our bungalow was very bohemian, rustic and basic, which Janet did not care for. We had a separate private bath, which had polished cement walls.  The place would have been better suited for guys only, like deer camp. I think our proprietor was concerned about our outlook at the level of amenities for this surfer hang out.   We left early, but the town was inviting, the restaurants were good, the view spectacular, and the tour groups friendly. I think if we had moved a little to the north side of town and upgraded, we all would have been satisfied. 

Huanchaco Peru from above

Point-Counter Point from Janet

I (Janet) selected Casa Amelia for the location, on the beach.  The reviews in were very good and it was cheap, $20 per night.  The reality is this location is for and reviewed by young broke surfers.  Frank is being kind in his review, waking up on our first morning, cold due to no heat and only 2 blankets supplied, I suggested we cut our trip to Huanchaco by one day and use some of our points for a nice hotel in Lima, Frank jumped at this idea.  See photos below

Our lunch show

Our HuanchacoTour company was great. We made arrangement for site visits the next morning. We could leave our suit cases in storage with them while on the trip. Big relief, so we checked out of Casa La Amelia and had an early breakfast at “Surf Burger”. Great omelets, with entertaining graffiti and prose drawn by would be authors all over the walls. The owner was a charmer from Oklahoma, USA. We talked about the town and got tips for our future travel.  The van arrived and we made an instant friendship with a charming Spanish lady from Barcelona. We knew she would be fun when she could not hold back a wide smile when I, Frank, struck my head while entering the van. I chuckled and made a joke, and she picked up on it. We all later shared a table at lunch. She had discovered a fixed price 3 course meal for us at the “Sombraros Restaurant”. It had a stage with Spanish style tap/flamingo dancers. Great fun! 

In the morning we went to the Moche ruins. In the afternoon we went to the Chinu ruins.

Here is a brief, unofficial, history lesson: The renowned Incas of Spanish Conquistador fame, were only an important Peruvian culture for 150 years. The Chinu and Moche pre-date the Incas and thrived for 800 years. The Moche were at the point of collapse and absorbed contemporaneously with the rise of the Inca military conquests. There were actually 87 distinct tribal cultures in Peru, separated by time and the size of the land mass of Peru which is geographically separated into 3 areas: coastal, mountain and jungle.   Some of these tribes lived and survived hundreds of years before Jesus (BC) walked the earth. Janet and I are going to study these tribes more as time permits. The Museum Larco and the National Museum of Anthropology in Lima will do nicely.

Right now, we are simply awe struck by the Moche temple and city site. The walls are painted or frescoed in bright red colors with the face of its god repeated with varying expressions—anger, sadness, happiness, and reverence. Like most of these tribes believe, the world is broken into 3 levels: The sky as represented by prominent birds; the earth as represented by animals, mostly felines; and the underworld represented by snakes, lizards, and dragons. Many of the paintings and artifacts depict men and women interacting with the creatures of these 3 levels, some sexually, some reverently, some merged in form. The weather (i.e., winter solstice) and ocean currents are recognized and charted. When El Nino strikes and crops are destroyed, the gods must be appeased, so sacrifices are made. The Moche chose to honor the gods by combat between their greatest warriors. The winner must knock the head dress off of his opponent and secure him. The vanquished is sedated by the priest (coca plant) and then partially decapitated so the blood gushes. 

The Chinu temples are not as ornate, but the site of the city is far larger housing the Temple of the Sun and then the Temple of the Moon. The Chinu generally sacrifice young women, because their gender represents the re-birth of the earth. At the temple of the moon, the bodies are cascaded down into the large reflecting pool. The Chinu site also sports an intricate weaving pattern that represents the fisherman of the coast. The day is full of information and we were lucky to have our English speaking guide, Rafael, (see picture) and his friend Greta, from Switzerland. We paid for an English speaking guide. But surprise, we were the only ones really with him, like a private tour for 7 hours (10-5), while the rest of the large Spanish group (30) had a separate guide.

The tour was to travel to Huanchaco to give others a chance to see the beach town. Rafael agreed to take our luggage from storage back to the office in Trujillo, only 5 blocks from our Via bus station. He saved us S/20 and a bunch of extra time. We parted ways with several big hugs and handshakes—nice young man.  Note: we booked our bus later then we should have for Sunday travel. Thus, the best carriers were filled and we then chose Via, which still offered a semi-cami or 160-degree chair/bed. The bus was sufficient. We checked in at 10:30 pm and we fell asleep quickly.

Next stop Lima Peru.

A great meal with the sunset