Thursday, January 2, 2014
Driving from Lambayeque to Catacaos - Peru
The northern coast is supposed to have some of the nicest beaches in South America and some of the best surf spots in the world, although few tourists get here because Peru has so many other places that are more popular on the tourist radar. After visiting the museum, it is already afternoon and our goal is to just reach the coast and find a spot for the night. Two hours later we leave the Panamericana Highway for route 4 which will take us to the Bahia de Sechura. From our map it looks as though there are several tiny towns and one fairly large one to choose from and the road appears to be paved. Maps! The road may have been paved at one time but right now it is part paved, part gravel, part dirt and lots of potholes. It also did not highlight the first town Bayovar, is a commercial mining town and port and owned by the companies. With guards posted at the entrance, there was no chance on stopping there. Circling the bay, we passed two small towns, which consisted of only a few makeshift shacks and small fishing boats and with very narrow dirt tracks giving access to the beach. No go there either so we pushed on the Sechura, the larger town anchored at the north end of the bay. The town is still quite small with narrow streets and difficult beach accesses. Heading north on a dirt road on the peninsula, we finally found a spot that would work for us. On a headland overlooking the ocean but quite secluded. As we turn off the road, there is a policeman on a motorcycle checking traffic and we stop to get some advice. After Pimental and being asked by the local police to move under lights for our safety, we are erring on the side of caution. Sure enough, he told us it was not a safe area to spend the night. Too secluded and too dangerous, he said and advised us to go to the next big town Catacaos, which is the self proclaimed capital of artisania, where many of the souvenirs and crafts you see for sale around Peru are made. It was not on our places to stop, since we have really purchased all the arts and crafts that we wanted at other towns along the way. Discouraged, we check our map again. From here the road goes inland to Catacaos which appears to be another hour drive, minimum and it is already 5:30 and sunset is at about 6:15. But with no other viable option, we give Winston a quick walk and start driving again. We finally get to Catacaos at 6:45pm. It is dark and we pull into the first gas station we see. There is no overnight parking allowed but the streets are wide and we simply pull into a side street off the Panamerican for the night. Not ideal but good enough. It has been a long day. We are not on the coast. We are tired and grumpy. Tom gets the motorhome ready for the night and I walk Winston. The streets are mercifully quiet and there are grassy areas and trails off the highway to walk. Not ideal but good enough. By the time I got back, Tom has fixed soup and sandwiches for dinner and started the generator so we have electricity. After dinner, Tom gives Winston his final walk of the night whilst I clean the dishes. With the generator now silent, we settle in for the night with our headlamps for reading. Pretty soon Tom is asleep and snoring, Winston is asleep and snoring and I read. It is quiet outside and I realize – this is definitely good enough.