Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our Good and Bad Intro to Peru

After we stayed in Ecuador for the maximum 90-day visa, we headed to Peru. Not to beat a dead horse, but did I mention we LOVE Ecuador? The border crossing was uneventful and relatively easy. We got excited when we asked the immigration official for a 6-month visitor visa, and he obliged by stamping 183 days in our passport. When is it ever that easy? Ten minutes later, while getting our vehicle permit, the customs official told us, in no uncertain terms, that we could only have 90-days for our vehicle permit. A 183-day visitor visa does us little good without a matching permit for the truck. So close...

Lots of desert in the Northern part of Peru

Four days after our border crossing, we headed towards the beach/surfing town of Pacasmayo. After a few hours of driving, we stopped for gas outside the city of Chiclayo. Queue bad intro: I walked to the bathroom and left Scott at the truck. While he stood on the driver's side, a thief opened our side door that has a big "beware of dog" sign on it, and grabbed the first thing he could. As they drove off, the gas-station attendants went nuts, gesturing for Scott to do something. It happened so quietly and quickly, that Scott had no idea anything went down, and certainly had no idea what the attendant was gesturing about. In fact, he looked behind the truck thinking she wanted him to move, while the thief and his accomplice drove off in the opposite direction. The guy took Scott's beloved man-purse that we bought at the Otavalo market in Ecuador. The good news... it was pretty much empty! Score! We were thrown off a bit, but definitely learned a valuable lesson.

An hour later, we arrived at Pacasmayo. Like we normally do at a new location, we asked if it was okay/safe for us to park and sleep in the truck. We had gotten used to the common response in Ecuador, "Siiiii, no pasa nada" (Yesss, nothing [ever] happens). The first guy we asked told us to definitely not camp at El Faro, at the far end of the beach, where we wanted to park. For a second opinion, we asked at the police station if it was safe to camp at El Faro. Not only did the officer tell us "no", he suggested the only safe place was in front of the police station, on a narrow city street. A few days prior, a Brazilian surfing tourist had been robbed at El Faro with a gun to his head.

El Faro point, Pacasmayo. We really wanted to camp here but were warned against it by too many people.

With this news, and thoughts of our incident in Chiclayo, we set out searching for somewhere to park that had some sort of security. We ended up paying a security guard who was in charge of a large tract of private land overlooking the ocean near El Faro. As we were cooking dinner, the owner of the property, Juan Pablo, came home and stopped by our truck. He insisted we park right next to his house as he retold the story of the Brazilian tourist.

For an entire week, we stayed at Juan Pablo's, and got to know his family and friends. He lives in the giant city of Lima, but owns property in Pacasmayo, where he now vacations. These people were insanely kind, friendly, welcoming and giving. They invited us to share many meals with them, as well as join them for outings to the surrounding beaches. We were a bit shy, and I was embarrassed about my horrible Spanish, but they were extremely patient (especially Juan Pablo and his friend Claudia). They welcomed us to their country like nothing we've ever experienced. Our final night in Pacasmayo, they took us to their local "social club" where we hugged and cheek-kissed more people in one night than we have in our entire life. To say the least, we were overwhelmed by the kindness and warmth.

Our first morning in Pacasmayo. Juan Pablo and family on right with Claudia and Ticlo's family on left.

Carlos feeling like we all did, after our delicious meal prepared by Claudia's Mom.

Our last night in Pacasmayo with our new friends

Since then, we have had nothing but good experiences with people throughout Peru, and are glad that our bad intro was just that.


Cesar said...

Always, always secure your man purse. (written while wearing my Jumbo supermaket t-shirt I purchased after getting robbed in Chile)
Cheers to good people.

Anonymous said...

Pacasmayo is supposed to have some of the best surf in the world and for kiting as well. A New Zealander, Curly, had a great trip there in November of December, IIRC, and others are scheduled to go from Chile to Pacas and another beach in June or July, Bill Burke