Andrea’s opinion for this post: don’t bother. Writing or visiting. End of post.
One aspect of overlanding (traveling over land) that we’ve come to appreciate is the actual overlanding. The driving (it’s also the costliest, gas being our biggest expense). When you fly, you teleport from one, likely, developed and/or touristy location to another, avoiding the in-betweens. The in-betweens, the meat between countries’ well-traveled skin, though, have been the most interesting. Revealing. For us at least.
Not all have been pretty, however. Case in point: Northern Peru.
Lost in Translation
We crossed into Peru at Lalamor. It was certainly the most ramshackle boarder we’ve yet crossed. Rusty shipping container offices stamped us out on the Ecuador side. A muddy shanty in on the Peru side. Military on both sides lounged under sun-faded tents, seemingly waving anyone through that waved back. Goats and trash roamed the streets. I immediately thought: if I’m ever going to invade Peru, this is the border. Then I thought: are those wild pigs? I’ve heard of wild boars, but wild pigs, is that a thing?
On the Peru side, I was reminded that, while improving, I’m not yet fluent in Spanish (Everett also reminds me of this daily).It’d been a long day of driving. Longer than our usual four to five hour max. I was tired. I likely hadn’t showered in a few days. Or a week. I leaned on the ledge of the customs shanty/office when an officer asked: “Estas cansado (are you tired)?” I replied: “Un poco (a little)”. Everyone erupted in laughter. I glanced at Andrea. She told me he’d asked if I was married (“casado”). It is curious, however, how those two words in Español are so close….
No Me Gusta
I’ve never liked the desert, though I vegetated on the edge of one (Owyhee) for most of my young life — I have come to appreciate, or at least respect, it more on this trip, however. The Sechura Desert in Northern Peru didn’t help to change my opinion….
It’s one of the biggest and driest deserts in the world (the driest being the Atacama Desert in Northern Chile, which I’m sitting in as I type this). It’s also fairly homogenous. Kilómetros and kilómetros of dirt brown mountains and valleys upon dirt brown mountains and valleys.
Peru is also, in general, pretty trashy. Literally. And everywhere. From the side of the road to the side of the beach. Perhaps only worse than India (that we’ve seen).
Now, using my econo-tactic analysis, I’d classify Peru as a transitional economy, lost somewhere between the developing and developed world. I also acknowledge that developing countries struggle, in general, with trash. They don’t have the systems to collect; plus, all the (sarcasm noted) greedy developed countries force sell cheap products down their livelihoods.
However. However…. I’ve seen much of the developing world, from the Asias to the Americas, and I can say, using my quasi-informed empiricism, that trash, specifically a countries’ conception of trash is cultural. I’ve been surprised to hear from European overlanders how clean they think the US is — said they’d feel comfortable eating off the streets. I’m also sitting here now in Chile, the wealthiest country per capita in South America, which is (literally) littered with trash….
Take the note on trash above, coupled with the ever-present marine / dirt / pollution layer that clouds the horizon, and driving through the Sechura Desert reminded me of both Tatooine (Star Wars) and what Earth would look like after a nuclear apocalypse.
Like anywhere, though, the Sechura has its moments. Its beauty. Like when, occasionally, cream-colored sand swirls up the crevices of cafe-colored mountains. Or the hundreds of kilometers of uninhabited and undeveloped beaches.
We stopped at one of the developed beaches in route to Lima. Playa Huanchaco, just a wee bit north of Trujillo.
Spent two nights camping at a lovely casa close to the sea run by a lovely Peruvian (or Peruanos, as every Latin American country calls them) madre and padre shop called Casa Amelia. The beach, known for surfing — evidentially, the longest left break in the world rides close to here — was nice. Probably only truly appreciated if you’re a surfer, which we want our kids to be. Hence, we paid for surf lessons one afternoon.
The Good News
The good news is, is that Peru improved dramatically the further south we vangaboned. I’ll blog about that here soon.