Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I can take a bus on Saturday for Huacho, a beach town some 3 hours north, then in the morning catch a « collectivo » to Supe, and from there another to Caral. It will be an adventure, but the people in this area are nice. I will be safe.
At the bus station I grab an empanada and a churro for lunch before boarding my bus. They don't let me get on the one at 10:30, probably because it was full. The next one is pretty well occupied too but I get a seat. It doesn't seem like too bad a bus. In France it would be retired, but here it's decent as busses go.

A boxing movie is just ending, and they put on another, a John Leguizamo about a poor boy from the northern US making it big in Vegas, then going back home after losing it all. You can't help but watch it – all the curtains are pulled against the sun.
We make stops along the way. I wonder how people know to gather at one place and not another. On the bus they take your name and your number when you get your ticket. A guy tells me later it's to help work out who's who after a crash. At the stops there are people selling snacks, they crowd up to the windows and do their trade from there. The empanadas are hot, but can you trust them?  Yeah, sure.

The countryside here is utterly bare. Not even cactus on the pale hills. The occassional slopes that are not bare are covered with shacks. It's a wonder anyone can make a living out here. What do they do? Is there plumbing out there? What is there to eat?
Large areas of bare ground have signs « concessions » to some company or other. Mineral rights, apparently, though nothing seems to be happening, no mining going on. Some high spots have watchtowers. What for? Is anybody watching?
The coast is not a strip of green. It never rains here, for miles up and down the coast. The green is along the rare streams running down from springs in the hills. Those valleys are lush with trees, corn, bananas, sisal.

Huacho is a poor, dusty town of not much. There are signs for hostels, but I figure my best bet for some comfort is closer to the beach. Tourists like beaches, so any hotel catering to tourists will be near the beach, right?
I walk the long avenue Martin to the end, finding only places that might be ok if there's really nothing else. I'm not so young any more; I require a clean bathroom and a bed without insects and doors that close & lock. Most of these places probably have that, but it's very easy to imagine they don't.
At the beach, I look up and down the coast, but there's not much development along the waterfront except for the big mall and a couple of restaurants. Not a single hotel sporting a view.
I turn around and go back toward the center of town on the main street, parallel to Ave Martin. In just a few blocks I find a real hotel. With a restaurant and a pool and all. It's fine, though the lack of insulation makes me hope the screaming kids having fun at the pool will wear themselves out early.

Now it's time to see the beach, and the ocean I've been missing for years now.
There are a great many birds, and I take a very great many pictures of them. Alas, it's also the most polluted beach I've ever been to. Garbage everywhere, both washed up by the tide and (mostly) thrown down from town over the low cliff.
In a fresh water outlet, people have gathered to wash their clothes. I can't imagine that. Well, I can imagine washing clothes in an open stream. But when my clothes are dirty enough to be washed, they're still cleaner than what comes out of that water, I'm sure.
Pampered American. These people have no other means of washing. No plumbing to wash at home, if they are the ones to live in the shacks on the bare hills. Laundry shops are common, but relatively expensive. It's this or not wash.

Fishing in the surf. Nobody swims there : too polluted.
Everybody is outside for some Saturday afternoon sports at the beach.

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