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John and Mandi

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What You Know About the Dirty South, Huanchaco, Peru

Jul 3, 2018
by John
in: Peru

Many a time we had been warned, being told to brace ourselves for what we would witness in Peru. Not violence, garbage. Expecting to be much like Mexico, we were indeed shocked during our time at the Peruvian coast. It is obvious that every single non-biodegradable piece of trash remains, stuck in the sand along the roadways, in desperation of what needs to change. Household juxtaposed with commercial, bordering agricultural crops...it's insane. It would be easy to blame the people, the truth is much deeper and apathetic. While the world is grappling with single use plastic, we cannot escape it. Slowly we have witnessed packaging descend to where almost everything is sold in a bag. Milk, water, peanut butter, ketchup, olives...it's endless. Carrying reusable bags helps a little, buying nothing is the only way to combat it. That just isn't possible.

We give accolades to those that are moving towards the ban of single use plastic and to the Peruvian government for making trash management a central focus. The truth is, burying garbage in a hole doesn't solve the problem. While out of sight, out of mind might seem to be a better way of daily living, we think staring at the unsightly truth of humanity might help precipitate an actual solution. It's difficult, driving for hundreds of kilometers with massive berms of trash along both sides of the road. So much so, we couldn't take a picture. While the garbage detracts from our experience, what it provokes is essentially so.

What We Did

Pacasmayo, La Libertad

Heading to the ruins of Chan Chan had us driving to the coast, the first time in South America since arriving in Cartagena. Knowing Chris & Nicole and Steffi & Daniel were there somewhere made it easier to leave the comfort of the mountains for what we define as a less than desirable coast. We reached out to Chris, meeting up at free camping spot on a beach in Pacasmayo. Steffi & Daniel were further down the coast so we spent the night and most of the following morning getting caught up with Chris & Nicole and new friends David & Jamie. A big surprise was randomly running into George from Traveling the Americas who just happened to be kite boarding with some friends exactly where we were camped. We followed George and Jenine's trip and use their blog for ideas on places to visit during our own, what a crazy world.

Pacasmayo, La Libertad, Peru

Is three a crowd?

Huanchaco, La Libertad

Instead of trying to camp in the rather large city of Trujillo, we chose to post up in the neighboring little tourist town of Huanchaco. We picked the larger of the available campgrounds, Huanchaco Gardens, due to its nice grassy area. Our plan was to camp there for a few nights, spending one day visiting all of the nearby ruins, then head back north to hook up with the gang for Chris's birthday. Once the waves went flat everyone ended up joining us in Huanchaco for what turned into a week long celebration. Even though the coast wasn't what we prefer, we really liked the little town of Huanchaco, our friends - exceptional. Our planned three nights ended up becoming 10. The quoted daily rate was 50S ($15.29) but after a little negotiation, thanks to Chris, we paid 370S for 10 nights ($113.15 or $11.32 per night). We still miss the evening strolls to the food carts for papas rellenas (2.5S or $0.76 each) and fresh picarones (a plate of 4 handmade doughnuts served with spiced cane syrup for 3S or $0.92). The pizza place, Bassano, around the corner from the campground wasn't bad either. Not the best, but decent, a four meat family size costing 48S ($14.68)...perfect for a hungry two. The fresh ground organic coffee from the guy in the market was fantastic, the available produce was fresh, everyone was extremely friendly...shit, makes us want to go back.

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

They might be famous for this or something

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

Priorities

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

The dogs have even less hair

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

Those two, always clowning around

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

Looking at this you wouldn't know we're gypsies (photo: David)

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

Poured some on the ground for our homies (sorry again guys)

Huanchaco, La Libertad, Peru

Never judge a book by its cover (photo: Chris)

Chan Chan, La Libertad

If you are looking for historical information, what the hell are you doing reading our blog? In the three years we've been yapping about being on the road we have shared exactly ziltch in the way of useful background information. Sure, a factoid may have slipped in on a few occasions but that just isn't our thing. We blabber on about costs, friends, and food (of course), then toss up a bunch of photos. If you want to be a learnin', buy a set of encyclopedias (if that is even possible anymore), talk to Mrs. Google, or trust in a guidebook (just don't be surprised that everything is supposedly more awesome than everything else somehow-like that's possible). We can't remember half of what we've learned and recalling what we might know proves difficult a month later, drinking does not improve memory recall...we've tried. I usually can't remember the name of the place we are in, until we leave, then I think it's where we are. That being said, Chan Chan is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. With only a fraction of the site restored, 10S per person ($3.06), it's worth a visit. Admission also includes access to the museum, Huaca la Esmeralda, and Huaca Arco Iris. Being whiny baby toddlers, we hired a driver to take us to every archeological site in one day for 150S ($45.87). That is not necessary but it was nice to be VIPs for a change. Parking is ample and secure at Chan Chan, the Chan Chan Museum (a separate location), Huaca de la Luna, and the Huaca de la Luna Museum which is adjacent from the temples near the ticket booth.

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

It's a bit squirrelly

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

How do they still have beady eyes?

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

How the salmon have to navigate the spillway

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Maybe it's evasive

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Bamboo is strong

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

The point of origin

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

There's something on your back

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Fly craft

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

E roaded

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Nice stacks

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Go to your chambers

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Where's the body?

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Chief Discs-n-ears

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Not very functional

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

It's possessed!

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Chip off the old block

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

That'll keep him quiet

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Bored out of my gourd

Chan Chan, La Libertad, Peru

Two horny ladies?

Huaca la Esmeralda

Not an impressive site, probably not worth visiting, and a place you would not want to leave your car unattended. We only visited since we had a driver and it was included with our Chan Chan admission. The Peruvian hairless dogs were the real stars of the site but there is a pair at Chan Chan and another at the Chan Chan Museum. It's kind of gimmicky to have them at each location but we do like them, the ones at the museum were a lot of fun and tried to give Mandi lots of kisses.

Huaca la Esmeralda, La Libertad, Peru

Very abstract

Huaca la Esmeralda, La Libertad, Peru

Coolest hairstyle around

Huaca la Esmeralda, La Libertad, Peru

Those steps seem really tall compared to the people

Huaca la Esmeralda, La Libertad, Peru

Makes me want chinese food

Huaca la Esmeralda, La Libertad, Peru

Yes, alien squirrells...for nut collection

Huaca Arco Iris, aka El Dragon

Again, not super impressive and the neighborhood was suspect at best. We'd skip it if we were driving but would visit again with a driver. It was mostly one motif repeated along the lower wall. The upper section was closed during our visit so we aren't sure if it is different.

Huaca Arco Iris, La Libertad, Peru

It does make me feel happy

Huaca Arco Iris, La Libertad, Peru

Like lady and the tramp

Huaca Arco Iris, La Libertad, Peru

A mane and a palm tree cane

Huaca de la Luna

Temple of the moon, definitely worth a visit. It cost 10S per person ($3.06) and guides are required to ensure site protection, we gave our guide a 10S tip making the total cost 30S ($9.17) for the two of us.  We had to wait almost an hour for an English speaking guide but we didn't want to get lost in the Spanish descriptions of an ancient culture. Many of the friezes are in near perfect condition since each level was filled with earthen bricks before the next level was built on top of it. Yeah, yeah...that's a factoid but not a very significant one. Our favorite part was getting to see the face of the structure at the end of the tour. It's hard to tell the scale in our photos, the site is impressive. Within a year the temple of the sun should be opening to the public, we might have to visit again.

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

As good as any for sacrificing the infidels

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Could make for a bad trip

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Somebody's stoned

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

When in doubt, block it out

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

That game of space invaders is taking forever

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Good job scientists

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

We like what you've done to the place

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Squidiliffic

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Either China or the underworld

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

How about happy puffy pete?

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Second act starts with the drugs and ends with the ax

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

It's much bigger in person

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

The story it tells is not nice

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

Always with the spiders

Huaca de la Luna, La Libertad, Peru

This is cheerful, or is it


Say what? (2)
Robin
Jul 4, 2018 at 01:37 AM
Hey guys! Wow Chan Chan has been excavated since we were there like 15 years ago. Very cool photos. We also loved huanchaca too, and were told to stay there over Trujillo. I had no idea about the garbage. That sounds infinitely worse than before, but we weren’t overlanding ourselves. Still we took buses so I’m surprised. If you have photos pls post. It’s always good to get the good bad and ugly perspectives. R
Jul 4, 2018 at 08:20 AM
Hey Robin!

We imagine a lot has changed in the last 15 years, product packing being a big part of the problem. We did not take a single photo but are planning to return to the coast a little further south and take some then.

We haven’t forgotten about your Colombia question, just mulling over our response. Love to you both 😘
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