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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