Hanging Out in HuanchacoFebruary 11 in Peru
Huanchaco is a coastal town, about twenty minutes from Trujillo by taxi. The journey was actually faster than our negotiations with the taxi driver to get us to Huanchaco, as we struggled to communicate that we didn't want to leave immediately. We tried to explain that we wanted to leave later, around lunchtime, to give us time to explore Trujilo's historical centre. In the end, we got our message across and seemingly both parties understood.
We arrived at our hostel in Huanchaco and discovered a veritable Noah's ark living in the complex. We were greeted by the friendly cat, Fidel, who had been abandoned, along with the hostel for over twelve months. Apparently Fidel approved of the hostel renovations and decided he would stay put and become the hostel guard cat. To keep Fidel company, there were also two tortoises and three rabbits, including one intersex bunny with a wonky eye like Paris Hilton. The beach and ocean could be seen from the hostel balcony, with perfect sunsets over the Pacific ocean.
After checking in, we wandered down to the shore to check-out the local delicacies on offer. As we sat eating our lunch, we partook in some people watching, observing some of the unique fashion on display by the locals and the itinerants passing through town. Jason pointed out one woman who was wearing such tiny shorts that Ricky was unable to see them because her handbag was bigger than her shorts. There was certainly more material used to make the handbag than the rest of her outfit. At this point, we saw a familiar sight in the distance in the form of our Canadian friends, Dave and Terrie, who joined us for lunch and who would be our neighbours at the hostel for the next six days and nights.
On the first evening, we discovered a secret that Terrie had been keeping from us: the cake man. Each night at 7pm, one of the local bakeries traverse the streets of Huanchaco selling their cakes, tarts, biscuits and all kinds of delicious sweets. We had heard the sounds of a horn but Lima had desensitised us to all kinds of tooting and beeping. We suspect Terrie wanted to kept it a secret to get in first and clean out the cake man. We made up for missing the cake man over the next five nights. We could have opened up our own bakery with the bounty that we returned with. Each night, we waited patiently for his call to action and at the slightest sign of him we scurried down the steps, fearing that we may miss out on the tasty sweets. All nightly activities revolved around the schedule of the cake man. It was as if we were possessed by Marie Antoinette and took her suggestion to eat cake to the extreme.
Sweets had quickly replaced the liquid calories of beer, caiprinihas and pisco sours. There's no wonder that our waistlines have expanded faster than you can say “let them eat cake”. Even our families have noted the extra kilos of our pastry baby bulges but, like crackheads looking for another hit, we are addicted and can't inhale the sugary sweets quick enough. To counter the excess calories, we enrolled in the yoga classes on offer at the hostel but we’re afraid that the horse has already bolted. Maybe we can get liposuction in Mexico before we return home. But in the near future, it may be necessary to fatify our clothes [to adapt clothes to accommodate an expanded waistline, usually involving sewing an extra panel of material into the clothes].
After exploring the historical areas and clearing out every bakery in sight, we adventured further afield and took a day trip to Trujillo, along with Dave and Terrie. We split up with Dave and Ricky heading to the Huaca de la Luna, a Moche monument located about twenty minutes from Trujillo, while Jason and Terrie remained in Trujillo to shop and to see the sights. The evening was capped off with more food from the street vendors in the centre of town, a first for Terrie who has been placed under the evil influence of Jason. The kebab sticks, papa rellenas and picarones became a staple part of our diets for most of the time in Huanchaco, along with the cheap two course menu del dias.
The next day, we wandered to the outskirts of the town to explore the streets and to walk off some of the excess calories, or more to the point to make room for more calories. The town didn't have a supermarket but we lost count of the number of shops selling baked goods. We stumbled across one bakery and got roped into being photographed wearing a sash in front of a painting. At first we thought the store owner wanted a picture to put on their social media site showing that gringos had frequented their establishment. But this wasn't the case and he ended up taking the photo with Jason’s phone. The store owner pushed and shoved us into place as Jason, Ricky and Terrie stood around wondering what was happening. We had no idea why the store owner insisted on taking the photo; we never asked for it and it just left us puzzled.
Apart from surfing and yoga retreats, the other attraction in Huanchaco is the historical site of Chan Chan, about ten minutes from the main part of the town. The complex was the capital of the Chimu civilisation and was used as the residence of the Chimu royalty. Most of the complex has been destroyed by natural forces as well as by the Spanish conquistadors and only a small section of the twenty square kilometre complex, the Nik An, is open to tourists. From Chan Chan, we took a taxi to the Huaca de la Esmeralda before picking up supplies in Trujillo and then returning home, via the Chan Chan Museum, to eat more cake.
On our last morning, we weren't greeted by Fidel the friendly cat, which had been commonplace over the previous five nights. Later, we found out that Fidel had been poisoned and had gone missing. Eventually, after a number of hostel guests went in search, Fidel was found alive but in a bad condition. The poor thing had spent the night vomiting, hidden away from the rest of the world. Fortunately, the worse was over for him and he was able to receive the care he needed. When it came time to leave, we had to tear ourselves away from the cake as well as the calm, chilled-out surroundings of Huanchaco.
Next stop: Chiclayo.
For video footage, see: