Getting robbed in Calama Chile

Well, its almost 4 weeks ago now since I one early morning got robbed in the Calama bus station In the north  of Chile. After 14 months of travelling I finally lost my passport, and to be honest I was just waiting for it to happen, as things until now had been going too good to be true.

It all happened on my way to the tourist trap of San Pedro de Atacama, where I was going from Iquique on the coast. After an overnight bus to Calama, I had to wait in the bus station for an hour until my next bus would depart for San Pedro. Before I left Iquique I had been warned about people getting robbed in this bus station, so I was alert on arrival. Around 6 in the morning we arrived in the bus station of Calama. I got of the bus and chose a place to sit and wait where there wasn’t any people.  Though shortly after sitting down an innocent looking woman was approaching the bench I was sitting on. I moved over to let her sit down, but before even sitting down she pulled something out of her pocket which was a handful of coins which she dropped on the ground as if it was an accident. Suspecting nothing and good natured as I am I started helping her pick up her coins, but before it was even possible for me to return them to her, she started walking off, which was weird I thought. Though I didn’t really get the chance to reflect more about it as suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere and started to throw up more less right next to me. For a second I forgot everything about the woman, and was thinking why this guy wasn’t throwing up in the bathroom if he was feeling sick. He soon stopped and walked off, and I was left thinking how weird those two situations had just been, a second after I discovered they had swapped my small backpack for another quite similar one, which though was empty. I tried to take up pursuit, but being held back by my backpack and two surfboards they already had to big of an lead and disappeared not to be seen. All that was left to do, was to go directly to the police to report the incident which I did before cathing my next bus to San Pedro. Oh well, shit happens.

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Doing Lines in Nazca

On my way to the city of Arequipa in Peru, I stopped in the town of Nazca, which is famous for it geoglyphs called the Nazca Lines on the plains outside of the town. The geoglyphs consists of massive depictions of many different animals aswell as geometric shapes and straigt lines running through the plain. The lines are shallow designs made in the ground by removing the reddish pebbles and uncovering the whitish/grayish ground beneath. They were created by the Nazca Culture way back in 400-650 AD.

The lines are partly visible from the surrounding foothils and a watch tower in the middle of the plain, but the best way to see the figures are by taking a airplane and do a fly-over. I did a 30 minute fly-over from the local airport for 90 dollars, where serveral companies offers this service and it is quite a business. Eventually, the flight turned out to be cool and the lines were to some extent impressive. Though, at the same time I was a bit disappointed, as I, in my naivety, had expected the plain to be like a giant blackboard making the lines and figures would stand out sharp and clear, which they didn’t due to giant rain tracks cutting through th plain, disturbing the representation.

Beneath is a picture of the depiction of a Whale. Originally I had many more pictures, but I was unlucky to have my memory cards stolen, and therefore lost most of them – though the picture beneath illustrates the experience.

The Whale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More about th Nazca Lines can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazca_Lines

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Mountaineering Nevado Pisco ( – Sweet!)

 

A famous Peruvian drink is called Pisco Sour. A mountain peak in the Peruvian Andes in the Cordillera Blanca range  is named Pisco. Ascending Nevado Pisco gives you Pisco Sweet!

Getting into it

Before the end of july I had never mountaineered in my life, coming from a flat country where the highest point is 172 meters above sea level.  Neither had I ever seriously considered to do mountaineering, but things can change in a blink of an eye, and so I decided to give mountain climbing a shot. The decision came around when a South African girl called Lauren, who was staying at the same hostel in the mountain town of Huaraz as me, mentioned she was keen on trying to summit a mountain. The idea rattled around in my head for a night and the day after when I freshened up after having a few drinks during the night,  I looked into the possibilities of doing mountaineering along the route I was doing and came to the conclusion that the area around Huaraz is the equivalent of Disney Land for mountaineers and wanna-be mountaineers like me.

We inquired at different agencies at what they would recommend for a couple of rookies like Lauren and I. They had two options, were one of them was Nevado Pisco. They all claimed it was a good peak for beginners as it is non-technical, but it did have a difficult morraine (the area below the beginning of the gletcher) between the basecamp and gletcher which had to be crossed before the ascent on the gletcher could begin. We kind of neglected the emphasis the operators were putting on the toughness of the morraine crossing and decided to take on Nevado Pisco and its 5760 meters of altitude. In the end we chose the operator Quechuandes, as the accommodation would be in a nice refugium instead of a tent (I was tired of freezing my a.. of in a tent) and on the last day on the way down from the base camp we would pass the popular Laguna 69 – known for its extraordinary blue water.

Departure would be in the morning two days after, giving me a day to get prepared and buying some extra warm clothes. The day before departure i spent buying layers of clothes for the challenges the next couple of days and just preparing mentally.

Departure from Huaraz

Early the next morning Lauren and I got up to meet up at the operator office around 7.30am for departure. We met our guide Lucho, got the stuff we needed and headed off towards the Cordillera Blanca to make the hike up to the Pisco basecamp/refugium. After getting drop by the taxi at the trailhead we started hiking up, withg our backpacks heavily packed with food for lunches, ice axe, cramp ons, mountaneering boots, helmet and much more necessary for making the summit. This day we would only have to hike to the refugium, where we would have lunch and a early dinner, whereafter we would go to bed. The plan was to head of for the summit at 1am in the night, so an early bedtime would be necessary.

It took around two hours to reach the refugium in 4700 m.a.s.l. We had our lunch and an afternoon chill session after which we had a good dinner prepared by the kitchen in the refugium. Early to bed we went, but that evening the refugium was filled with kids from a nearby community, and like always with kids on a field trip they were excited. Though, at some point I fell asleep, and at 1am we got up again to have breakfast. After breakfast we got our gear and set off in the dark towards the summit of Nevado Pisco.

Crossing the moraine

First we had to cross the moraine which is the part on the mountain right before reaching the gletcher which covers the top of the mountain. The moraine consists of debris (rock and soil) scraped of the mountain by the glacier. Beforehand we had been warned that the crossing of the moraine would be hard due to it being very rough with many big rocks and boulders and elevation changes. We were walking in the dark of the night with our headlamps on first having to ascend a small ridge i the beginning of the moraine whereafter we we descend into the actual moraine terrain and begin the hike to the edge of the glacier. Due to the darkness we weren’t able to see the 3 hours of morain that was ahead of us. Morals were high and the hike to the edge of the glacier went smooth and according to time.  Around 4 am we reached the edge of the glacier

Glacier time

Before getting onto the glacier we had to change into our gear. This meant changing into waterproof pants, getting our killer mountaneering boots on, strapping on cramp-ons and gators, helmet and just putting on a lot of layers as it was only getting colder from now on.

After a little snack, we climb onto the glacier and continued our ascend. Both for Lauren and I, it was our first time walking on a glacier with cramp-ons in stiff boots. Tied to our guide Lucho by a rope 5-10 meters apart we were now walking up on the glacier using our ice axes as a walking stick. Walking upwards in stiff boots with cramp-on was initially a difficult sensation, but soon I found out it was easier to walk kind of sideways instead having my feet pointed in the direction I was moving, which wasn’t comfortable. The effect of the altitude was getting serious and very apparent as we easily got exhausted. We had to walk very slow, and often it was necessary to take a breather and gain energy for another stretch as we were being seriously challenged. Walking in the dark we had no idea where on the mountain we were and how much distance we had covered. Our guide Lucho would periodically ask us if everything was okay, and we would answer. As we pushed on Laurens answer would become more vague for each time. I was walking behind Lauren and I could see fatigue really setting in for her and feeling it myself aswell. Every 5 minutes I would ask Lauren if she was ok, but in the end she wouldn’t even answer anymore. After some time we reached the most difficult section on the mountain, which would be a 40 meter slope of 60 degrees. After a struggle we both made it up, but the section really sucked our energy and we had to take a brake and reconsider the situation. Lauren was really exhausted, and our guide Lucho said one thing was to have energy to reach the top, but you had to have enough in reserve to make it down again. The darkness had by now turned into light, but instead we now had foggy conditions. I said to Lauren to leave her backpack behind here on the mountain and do the last hour of ascending without it. We would come down the same way and could pick it up then. Until then, I would share my water and snacks with Lauren, but we didn’t really have far to go. After a regroup, we kept on pushing on. Shortly after we met a group of local boys who had overtaken us on the way up and who now was on their way down from the top. They told us it would be 40 minutes more, which at this point considering our level of fatigue seemed like a long way, but we kept walking through the fog on motivated by Lucho our guide.

Suddenly at a point where the summit of Pisco seemed further away than ever, the fog cleared and Lucho made us aware the summit was right infront of us, no more than 5 minutes away. At that point very exhausted we couldn’t be happier! With a sudden burst of energy, we made the remaining ascend, and then we were on the top – like that. Usually 10 minutes is spent on the top, before the descend is initiated.

Arriving on the top we were soaking it up, while regaining some of our energy. It was a cloudy day, but the wind was constantely clearing the view of clouds making it possible to see all the surrounding mountains including the south peak of Nevado Huascaran which is the highest point in Peru at 6768 meters. The sensation of actually making the top after 7 hours can only be poorly described with words, not to mention the view we were awarded with. I had brought a little flask of rum which we celebrated with on the summit along with some snacks as energy for the descend.

After 30 minutes and many pictures, we started the descend. After the ascend the descend felt like a piece of cake and it was needed after the exhaustion experienced going up. In what felt like short time we reached the end of the glacier and was back on the moraine, needing only to cross that before we would be back at the refugium. After changing bake into our hike-gear and having lunch, we started crossing. Most of it was downhill and we got a quite a good view of what we had been crossing in the dark, nine hours earlier – a very rough, but beautiful landscape. At the end of the moraine we had to get over the rim of the moraine. In the morning we had almost been sliding down the side leading to the moraine and now totally exhausted we had to put in our last exertion before being back at the refugium. It was a totally energy drainer, and after many breaths and almost crawling on my stomach i made it to the top of the small rim, and from there it was only 5 minutes downhill to the refugium. After 12 hours of ascending and descending Nevado Pisco, we were finally back. A well deserved rest after a shower was now in sight before dinner and more rest to ready for the return to Huaraz the day after via Laguna 69.

Returning to Huaraz

The mext morning we got up early as we had a hike down to the pickup point in the valley via Laguna 69, which is a glacial lake famous for its very intense blue colour. To get there we had to hike across a small ridge separating the two sides of the valley. After a couple of hours we got to the Laguna, where we had lunch while enjoying the silence around the laguna as we were some of the first ones there this day. after another couple of hours hiking down, meeting many people going up to the laguna for the day, we finally reached the road in the bottom of the valley. From there we took a taxi for the last 3 hours back to Huaraz, where we that night celebrated with a pizza and a Pisco Sour.

 

 

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Wrestling with Cholitas in La Paz

Cholitas is what the mountain indians dressed in traditional clothes are called  in Bolivia. Every sunday in La Paz they put on a wrestling show for locals and tourists alike to watch. Sometimes the cholita wrestles a guy and at other times its to cholitas fighting it out. I went to watch this quite bizarre event, and as I was sitting in the audience before the fights commenced, I was asked by the organizers if I wanted to participate in one of the fights in the ring. I answered yes without hestitating and soon I was backstage practice a routine along with a Cholita whom I was to help and the guy whose ass we were to kick. After getting the routine down, I went back to the audience and waited with anticipation on the fight in which I was to participate. At some point during the fight the Cholita would come get me from the Audience, and the action would be on. The video below shows how it all went down!

 

 

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Santa Cruz trek – Aka. The donkey poo trails

After some more weeks of surf in Pacasmayo and a couple of days again in Huanchaco to catch up with a friend, I decided to head of to Huaraz to get a taste of the Peruvian Andes. Huaraz is famous for being situated close to the Cordillera Blanca, which is probably the best part of the Peruvian Andes mountains for trekking and mountaineering. Peru’s highest mountain Huascaran South is located in the Cordillera Blancas and it is an amazing sight up close. Huaraz has quite a lot of activity offers and personally I was hooked on doing some trekking. One of the classic and easy treks around Huaraz is the Santa Cruz trek. Many agencies offer this trek as a tour, where everything from transport, carrying you gear to cooking and setting up camp is included – a real easy way to do it and normally not very expensive. I had never done a proper multi-day trek before, though plenty of day hikes, but after doing some research I decided to challenge myself by arranging and doing the trek solo. It’s  a quite easy and safe trek, so all I needed was to figure out the transport to the trail head and back from the finish of the trek, rent a tent and stove (sleeping bag I had, though It turned out to not be warm enough), buy some food and a map of the trail and then pack the necessities.

After arranging everything, I headed of at 5.30am the next day to get an early start on the trek, as the transport to the trail head in Cachapampa would take 2-3 hours. The transport to the trail head went all according to plan and after stocking up on some water for the first part of the trek I headed off. After paying the necessary entry fee to the national park and having the first crucial 300 meters explained I was on my way. Though I didn’t quite understand the explanation and after walking for 15 minutes I luckily met a guy carrying a big tree log who who told me I had to go back and cross the river, and suddenly the former explanation made sense. The first day would include 900 meters of altitude to ascend over 12 km. This part was on a loose and dusty trail in the sun with no breeze at all resulting in a very hot and sweaty ascend with a fully loaded backpack – though a good warm up for the rest of the trek. After 3-4 hours of trekking including breaks, lying on my back relaxing and enjoying the scenery and tranquility, I made it to the campsite for the night which was called Llamacorral. During this first day of hiking I was surprised about how serious some people take this hiking/trekking business. Most people was doing the trek in the opposite direction of me, resulting in me encountering quite a few coming against me. Many would be totally geared up and walking with blinkers  almost without the time to greet. While having a rest in the grass alongside the trail, I even saw three guys dress in similar outfits who came storming by as if the were training for the relay in the trekking Olympics. I just say: “relax por favor”. While setting up camp, Stacha from France arrived from the opposite direction and she set up camp next to me. After having our dinner alongside the grazing donkeys and talking trekking story we both crawled into our sleeping bags, as it was dark, cold and with nothing to do. The spot I had chosen was quite windy the whole night, which I felt as the wind chill kept me cold the most of the night even though I was sleeping in several layers. The camp was in 3800 meters which during the day when the sun is out is pretty warm, though as soon as the sun goes down it gets freezing cold.

The sun got up at 6am the next morning and at 7am i felt it was time and warm enough to get out of the tent to a beautiful sunset in the valley and breakfast consisting of oatmeal porridge. After saying goodbye to Stacha who is quite an avid trekker and a bit of a mountaineer, I packed my stuff up and headed of for the second day of trekking. More or less all of the organised tours from agencies utilize pack donkeys for carrying the equipment for making camp, food and some of peoples personal items. The end result is a trail which is scattered with donkey poo, but it could be worse I reckon. The second day was easier in the beginning as it was more or less flat for most of the way, though I was still carrying a lot of weight due to the food I had packed from Huaraz. I decided to put a little extra effort into the trek and do a small detour which which would take me up to Laguna Arhuaycocha, where I would camp for the in above 4300 meters altitude. The total ascend of the day was around 500 meters due to the detour, but it was definitely worth it due to the scenery, the cosy campsite and the view of the laguna which required a small climb as warmup the next morning. As soon as I had put my tent up it started snowing lightly and I realised a very cold night would be ahead of me. Before I got too cold I cooked up my dinner which consisted of Knorr aspargus soup with noodles and some bread – a quite decent, warming and filling meal considering the circumstances. It got cold really fast and crawled into my sleeping bag with all the clothes on as I had brought – even my rainjacket. Despite these measures I still froze my ass of the whole night, sleeping 10 minutes at a time, then waking up freezing and having to turn due to the thin sleeping mat and then falling asleep again for another 10 minutes, which kept on going for 13 hours. Luckily having 13 hours of interrupted sleep still makes me rested the next morning. So I got up at 7am in freezing temperatures and as a mentioned I chose to warm up by doing the short hike the rest of the way up to the nearby laguna. After having oatmeal porridge for brekkie, I headed of for probably the most spectacular day of the trek. This day I would cross the highest point of the trek which is the pass Punta Union in 4750 meters altitude.

The 3rd day started out easy with a downhill hike for the first hour down to the camp site which is most commonly used by operators taking tourist on this trek. After the campsite the ascent to the pass would begin and from the bottom it was easy to see the switchbacks zig-zagging across the face of the mountain ridge. This part of the trek turned out to be toughest with my quadriceps running out of oxygen every 50 meters forcing me to take a breather or walk more slowly. I decided to keep on charging and take a breather to enjoy the view which was getting better and better the further up I ascended. On my way i met several donkey trains carrying the stuff for all the tour groups coming from the opposite direction. I must admit that it was a bit of a tough climb and when I got close to the top I could see hordes people who had come up from the opposite side of the pass. Nonetheless I took a well deserved break in the nice sunshine and enjoyed the view of the mountains and valleys on both sides of the pass and took the obligatory pictures. After most of the other people had started moving on down the way I had come up, and nobody was ascending on the side of the pass I was heading down I decided to head on down towards the campsite for the final night. It was all downhill the rest of the day passing small lakes and streams enroute to the campsite for the night. which was called Paria. Reaching it I was the only one there, and I quickly set up camp for the night and cooked my dinner again consisting of noodles in a cream soup. As soon it got dark I crawled into my sleeping bag again wearing all the clothes I had brought along. Shortly after going to bed I hear something puzzling around outside of the tent, scratching in the ground and snorting. At one point it comes all the way up to my tent and more or less snorts into my ear which is close to the cover of the small tent. I didn’t have the nerve to investigate what kind of animal it was, but could only guess it to be a cow, donkey, fox or something totally different.

Next morning I was awoken by a local yelling “get up gringo” in spanish and I soon got my stuff packed and get on my way. The rest of the trek was more or less downhill through open fields towards the exit of the national park. After exiting the national park I walked through small villages and on the way meeting small kids, who had been spoiled by other trekkers,and now begging me for candy. The trek ended in Vaquería after an exhausting 500 meter ascent up to the small village from where i caught a van which had just dropped of a whole tour group who was setting of for the adventure I had just finished. The van took me to the town of Yungay (which years prior had been totally annihiliated by an avalanch coming down from the Cordillera Blancas), via rough gravel roads over a pass higher than 4700 meters and down a track that seemed to zig-zag forever down into the valley below. In Yungay I caught another van back to Huaraz and late in the afternoon I arrived very tired, but happy.

 

Posted in Travels 2013 | 24 Comments

Life in an Incan teleportal

I went into a incan teleportal and it was caught on camera… Don’t know where I went, maybe I am still there?

Incan teleportal

At one point it broke (it is over 500 years old) and I got stuck:

Broken Incan teleportal

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Chicama – mas largas olas del mundo, more or less

Chicama is a world famous lefthand point break within the surfing world. Most goofy footers (surfers who face the wave frontside when going left) have wet dreams about this place and the possibility of getting a legburning 2 km wave reeling down the point.

Chicama is quite consisted if all you want is a wave, but for it to be epic it needs a big swell from the South Pacific. With a big swell we are talking around the 3 meter mark and more.

As mentioned in my Huanchaco story the forecasts had indicated the arrival of a solid swell and instead of following Dan and Simon to Huaraz in the Andes Mountains, I decided to wait around a few more days in Huanchaco and then head of for Chicama the day before the swell was set to arrive. At the hostel in Huanchaco, two Argentinian surfers Nico and Gonzalo was staying as well and we decided to go together to Chicama.

Chicama is only 2 hours away from Huanchaco, so after catching a taxi to Trujillo and a bus from there to Puerto Chicama we arrived to check in at the famous hostal El Hombre. El Hombre is located on the cliff above the beach and marks the beginning of the fast and hollow El Hombre-section (named after the hostal), where a good barrel is possible.

The swell hadn’t arrived yet, so we chilled in the afternoon, had dinner and went to bed early in anticipation of the waves promised for the following day. Waking up early at first light we saw the swell had filled in during the night. After some quick breakfast and pre-surf psych up time we hit the water, for one of the best and longest sessions of my life.

Due to the length of the wave and strong currents sweeping around and down the point Chicama is usually surfed by walking around the point and paddling out, thereafter you catch 1-3 waves and by then you are way down the point close to the pier which marks the end of the wave. From there you walk back 20 minutes to the point and repeat it all again….. Or you can cheat and pay 10 dollars and be pick up by a zodiac boat which takes you back up to the point and drops you off at the peak, saving you the walk and paddle out, but comprimising your soul.

Each lap usually takes around an hour, and after getting 1-3 waves which all more or less are longer than most waves in the world, the walk back to the point after leg-burning rides is a enjoyable break, where you get to see all the other guys out in the lineup get smoking waves.

In the end I did 8 laps of the Chicama triathlon making it 16 km’s of surfed waves, 16 km’s of walking back to the point and 10 km’s of paddling to fight the current and stay in position for the next wave. 8 laps took me 8 hours after which I was totally drained for energy and with serious chafes between my legs due to the walking in my old wetsuit – though I was a very happy surfer. Especially one wave stood out from all the rest of the 40+ waves I had that day, which was the one that took me more than 1 km down the line. It kept on going, but my exhausted legs couldn’t keep up when the wave reached the El Hombre section, or else I probably would have gotten a real 2 km Chicama wave. That night Nico, Gonzo and I were all very happy having scored classic Chicama.

The next day, the period of the swell had dropped making the waves less punchy, though good waves could still be had. The day before had taken the toll on all of us, and I personally only made 3 laps this day before calling it.

Gonzalo had to fly back to Argentina, and with the swell dropping of Nico and I decided the next day to head to another famous peruvian pointbreak called Pacasmayo which is an hour north of Chicama. This point picks up more swell, and a new smaller swell was forecasted to arrive in a couple of days, so more surf was in the pipeline.

 

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Back to civilisation in Huanchaco

So I went to Huanchaco after 6 weeks Lobitos. I had heard different things about this place, one being about waves, another about cheap and good spanish lessons and a third about interesting ruins left over from pre-colombian cultures settled in the area. Furthermore the bigger city of Trujillo would be nearby so a bit of civilisation could be expected. The wave forecast wasn’t indicating anything particularly good on the horizon, so Huanchaco seemed to be a good option for hanging out until a solid swell would arrive which would light up the world famous wave at Chicama – just 1,5 hours away.

Huanchaco is located around 15 minutes from the larger city of Trujillo and suburban sprawl more or less connects the two only seperated in terms of settlement by the old ruins of Chan Chan.

I had left the North of Peru with Dan and Simon from Australia who are both surfers aswell. It took us 8 hours in bus from Talara to Trujillo, from where we would take a taxi to Huanchaco. Arriving early in the morning in the bus terminal we were immediately attacked by taxi drivers who wanted to take us to Huanchaco. After negotiating a reasonable price we left the terminal to go to the taxi, and as we passed the other taxi drivers we heard laughter and the others drivers say the word chico… Soon we found out why. The taxi was a micro car and we were a 3 big guys with backpacks and 5 surfboards between us. Our brains were probably still sleeping, so we went on with it when the taxi driver decided to to strap all the boards to the roof using the one rack going across the roof which was holding his taxi-sign. 5 minutes into the taxi ride when we heard a sound from the roof of tge taxi I was saying to Dan and Simon: “You haven’t been to South America before your boards have fallen off the roof of of a taxi”… 2 minutes later within a blink of an eye the boards are flying behind the taxi crashing on the ground. Dan’s and Simons boards survived along with the one of mine, while my big board which was only covered by a board sock took a hard beating turning a 1 dollar taxi ride into a 8 dollar taxi ride.

We checked in  to the hostal called SudAmerica, which i got recommended by my friend Jimmy from Australia. The welcome and atmosphere in SudAmerica was great from the start. Not the cleanest hostel, but considering the price, atmosphere and people staying there that could be overlooked. The hostel had quite a few volunteers, some from Argentina and one standout from Denmark called Peter. Peter is a young guy experiencing the world before returning to Denmark to buckle down with studying. Peter was always spreading good vibes and making people smile with his good mood. One of the argentian guys was named Santiago, who did catering in Argentina before leaving. Most nights “Santi” would be cooking a delish meal no matter the ingredients, just like a true chef or “El jefe de Cocina” as it can be said in spanish. We would have true argentian barbeque, pizzas and other delicacies along with live music played by some of the other argentinian volunteers.

Huanchaco is known for beach, surf and the 2000 year old fishing boats called Caballito de Tortura, which are still used to this day. The boats are made from reeds (tortura) that are tied together forming a long and narrow vessel which the fisherman sits on like a horse and paddles with a piece of bamboo cut open. Many Caballito´s can be seen on the beach as they are dragged out of the water in order to dry them after use, as the reeds absorp water making the boats waterlogged and quite heavy.  For a small amount it is possible to rent one of the Caballito´s and take them out in the waves, which i did one day from an old local fisherman. I started out very easily to get to know how the boat would behave, but I soon got more brave and paddled down the beach to find some bigger waves which would have enough push to get the quite heavy boat surfing towards the shore. It went very well for a while and I got some good waves which propelled me with great speed towards the shore. It wasn´t possible for me to stand up, as the boat was more or less out of control due to the fact it didn´t have any keel or fins for direction. Mostly I would surf the waves lying down or on my knees trying to control the boats movements big sticking my legs into the water. After a while when I was paddling back out after a wave I got caught inside by a bigger set, which almost ripped the Caballito a part. The boat survived though, more or less unharmed, but I was feeling that I was maybe pushing my luck a bit and I didn´t want to break the old fishermans so he wouldn´t be able to catch fish and feed his family for a week. I noticed the old fisherman had followed me down the beach on the shore, and not to make him more worried than necessary I decided to paddle back in. It was great fun and afterwards I asked the fisherman how much a boat costs to make which is 250 Peruvian Soles equivalent of 100 American dollars.

The surf in Huanchaco is a bit inconsistent and the quality of the wave is not like some of the other classic peruvian pointbreaks such as Pacasmayo and Chicama. The shape of the waves on the point is not as good and rides are no where as long as Chicama, but its still possible to get some ones and the vibe in the lineup is chilled with very few locals in the water, considering the big city of Trujillo just being 15 minutes away. The beach though is something else and quite disgusting and dirty as it is most of the time covered with trash which has been washed up by the ocean. Even in the water you can find a lot of trash and one day paddling in after a session Dan almost got a used condom in his face which was floating around close to shore.

To be a little cultural a good option is to visit old ruins of the Moche culture called Huaca De la Luna which is open to the public and the bit younger Chan Chan ruins. Both are fascinating, but Huaca de la Luna is definitely the most interesting with original non-restored, but very well conserved wall paintings depicting the god of the Moche Culture and more. Huaca de la Luna and its neighbour Huaca del Sol are both temples which where used for spiritual rituals of belief and politics of the culture.  Because of tough times the Moche culture lost their belief in the high priests (leaders) and the power of the Huaca de la Luna temple and moved their civilisation to the younger Chan Chan city which featured habitation and temples/squares for rituals likewise.

After a week Dan and Simon decided to head of for Huaraz, a city in the Andes mountains. On the forecast I had seen a really big swell arriving later in the week which was perfect for the pointbreak in Chicama. With this in mind I decided to stay on the coast to wait in excitement for the swell to arrive. Spending a few more days in Huanchaco and the head of to Chicama.

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Lobitos and Talara – surf eat sleep

After spending almost 1,5 months in Ecuador it was time get some more watertime and waves again. The decision was to head to Lobitos which by rumour is the area in Peru with the best and most consistent waves. The plan was to stay for 3 weeks and maybe longer if it would still be a pleasure and the waves would keep on pumping.

To reach the little town of lobitos it is first necessary to head to Talara (if taking the bus) and from there a road sometimes sealed but mostly unsealed leads to Lobitos. Talara is a busy little city boasting a fishing port and hosting the oil industry which operates in the area. On the way to Lobitos operating oil pumping units extracting oil from the ground below the desert are passed and the first impression when reaching Lobitos is a Ghosttown that only lacks tumbleweeds in the streets blowing in from the surrounding desert.

The petroleum activities in the area of Lobitos used to be operated by the International Petroleum Company (IPC), which began its oil extracting operations at the turn of the 20th century in 1901. They primarily had foreign people employed in the oil fields and for recreational purposes  Lobitos was the first place in South America to have a Cinema and a Casino along with all the necessary buildings and equipment for extracting the oil which in addition included a desalination plant. In 1968 a military coup occured  in Peru and very shortly after the Military junta nationalised the petroleum industry and took over the Lobitos area while throwing out the IPC, and strategically installed military in the area as the nearby Talara has a airfield. This led to the demise of the once grand little town for the english and american oil workers as the military officers would loot the stylish old buildings for anything they were worth and sell it off to the people interested.

I quickly realized the potential of the waves in this area and how fun and addicting they can be. This fact has led many surfers from all over the world to this little area of no importance and little to offer other than perfect waves. Even though there is about 6 surf breaks within a short distance of 5 km and the waves break very consistently it still gets very crowded with surfers in the water at times. This turns into a lot of hassling in the water, drop ins and  ruined waves, but most of the time it doesn´t lead to any aggression and it seems to be tolerated and the way the line-ups here in Peru and most likely the rest of South America works.

The future for Lobitos looks in many peoples perspective bleak. Oil is still being extracted from the underground, with many pumping stations spread all across the area, with many being close to habitations and schools. Furthermore the new resource consisting of perfect waves which has recently (the last 10-15 years) started to be tapped by surfer from all over the world brings new development to Lobitos. The development can already be noticed with numurous of hotels, lodge and guesthouses catering to surfers have popped all over the place, and are being built all the way down to the very sand on the beach. Rumours of the whole Lobitos area being for sale for a great sum in the million dollar range and the proposed building of big hotels turning Lobitos into a surf and resort kind of town sounds alarming for the personality of this place and the enjoyment of the waves as big crowds already come to experience the perfect waves, after the word has been spread to the rest of the surfing world.

After 6 weeks, I felt like I had stayed one week too long and it was time to head on to another surftown further south called Huanchaco.

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Cockfighting in Mancora

After Ecuador I returned to Peru and with a great appetite for waves and relatively warm weather I decided to stay in the North region called Piura.  One of the best and most consistent areas for surf in Peru are called Lobitos, which is within 2 hours of the town on the Gringotrail called Mancora. During the 6 weeks I stayed in Lobitos I would normally go to Mancora to blow some steam as this place is notorious for its party. I won´t talk anymore about party, but during one of my visits to Mancora I attended a cockfighting event, which was very interesting in many ways.

Without knowing it for sure, it seems like cockfighting is a big deal for a minority of the Peruvian people. I was very surprised to find out they had a dedicated coliseum built for these fights. Furthermore people would wear shirts and jackets showing which cockfighting society they were part of and have specially made cases for carrying the roosters. The lead up to the actually fighting commencing was long and was passed with the owners of the cocks stroking and measuring up their cocks against their opponents ( i think), so people could make a judgement of the favorite beforehand for placing bets.

Most of the cocks would have shaved legs and backs, with feathers on their wings and before fighting they would have toothpicks taped to their legs making them more lethal. Most fights would last around 5 minutes with the roosters loosing from the injuries their opponents would inflict on them and exhaustion. Some would die in the ring, while others would leave the ring alive but unable to move from their injuries or exhaustion.

 

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