Canon del Pato valley
Almost missed the bus to Trujillo
this morning, a combination of waking up late and dwadling getting my things ready. By the time I had my bag downstairs, Teo was nowhere to be seen. Anita was trying to call him but he wasn't answering. I should have re-confirmed with him in the morning when I saw him at breakfast! Luckily there was one of those little motorbike taxis parked near the hostel door and the driver took me over there with a few minutes to spare. But it all turned out to be in vain, all the rush, because in typical Peruvian fashion, there was a half hour wait for the bus to leave and I had plenty of time. The bus was nearly empty so we could stretch out and be comfortable on the ride.
Canon del Pato valley
On the way through the spectacular Canon del Pato, the river valley that we had come up on the way from Lima
to Huaraz, I enjoyed the same views as before but they seemed different as we got closer to the coast. It's fascinating to see the barren, dry mountains and hillsides and then lush, green cultivated valley. The contrast is so interesting because I have never seen anything like that in the US or in Europe in my travels. The climates here are so interesting. Here and there were crops drying...what looked like wheat or quinoa and corn. Nearer the coast the fog started to drift in and the skies got cloudy. Then I knew we were approaching the garua and that the ocean was near.
As we turned north I realized that we had backtracked southwest instead of taking the other valley northwest and that it was going to add a few hours onto our trip. That was disconcerting, but I just tried to relax and enjoy the scenery and the ride.
We stopped for some lunch at 2 pm at a small comedor off the highway where there were some other buses parked. The scene was a bit mad as there were only 2 waiters trying to serve everyone, and everyone was on a strict time schedule. Twenty minutes to eat and get back on the bus. The Peruvians had little patience and were yelling out to the poor lady, "Hey gorda, ven aca!" ("Hey fatty, come here!") and demanding their tea, forgotten glass, bill, for dishes to be cleared, whatever. I was patient and just sat back watching the crazy scene.
If I weren't so hungry I would have helped the frazzled waitress. In the end, I got my watery soup and forgettable chicken and rice. It filled my stomach for the ride of hours ahead so that was ok. Soon we were on the road again, watching the barren, sand-swept hills, every turn revealing new vistas and patterns and colors. The variety of colors in the rocks and sand and earth was astonishing...blacks, browns, greens, reds, ochres, yellows, whites, grays. And also the variety of textures, from clusters of sharp rocks, to soft hills, to fine sand and often in combination. I had to restrain myself from taking pictures at every bend in the road. The sky changed too, and as we neared Chimbote, the center of Peru's fish industry, it darkened and made for some spectacular juxtapostions with the hills and ocean.
The coastal fog arrives
Chimbote was a nothing city. Full of fish-packing factories and a long array of shanties, stretching out on the flat dry land around the center. I just sat and looked at the life of the streets as we rolled through and then further north. Sunset came and finally we arrived in Trujillo.
At the bus depot I asked the pretty girl at the counter about a bus to Huanchaco
, the beach resort just northwest of Trujillo where I had wanted to stay. She said there was a yellow bus that went there. At the door, the policeman told me I needed a taxi, that the buses didn't run this late on Sunday evening. And the taxi driver of course confirmed that. He wanted 15 soles to take me there.
Ruins near Barranca
"No thanks," I replied, "I'll just wait to see if one might come by." At that moment, I saw a yellow Huanchaco bus across the street. I was tempted to call them liars but the situation was comical and I never believed them for a second anyway so there was no point. They could see that I was too smart to fall for their ploy. So I got the bus and ended up at the Casa Suiza. It wasn't as nice as promised in the Lonely Planet and I didn't see any evidence of the Swiss ownership, but I didn't stop to examine it for long, I was too hungry. I got a pasta next door and then settled into the couch to thumb through an old magazine and relax. I met a nice Peruvian lady there who was visiting her friends in Huanchaco and cousin in Trujillo. She needed a break from her cousin she told me and that's why she was venturing out to get something to eat as well. We talked for a bit and then walked a couple blocks in the sleepy off-season beach town to a cute little bar/lounge near the water she had spotted on the walk over and listened to some music and talked and had some mojitos. The mojitos were incredibly soporific and I headed back to get some much needed sleep.