You’ve booked your ticket and you have a fair idea where you want to go and what you want to see in Peru – exciting! Whether you plan to do a mad dash of the highlights or spend a few months soaking in the culture and stunning landscapes, check out these five ways to help you to make the most of your time in Peru.
I had been in two minds whether to go by public transport or pay the extra and just catch a taxi. If you are stretched for time then I recommend going on a tour - it will save you the hassle and stress of trying to get there. However, if like me and you are up for an adventure, then have your coins handy and go by combi. If you don’t want to book a tour online, head to Plaza de Armas and walk around looking for “tours” signs on the buildings. They may seem hidden at first because signage in Peru is more subtle, but there are plenty around.
My guest house, D’Barrig, was in the barrio of Monserrate, in the old part of Trujillo. It was a street away from Avenida Costa Rica which turns into Los Incas, one of the major streets that takes you to the historic centre of Trujillo, Plaza de Armas. There are some street signs in Trujillo being a small city, which helped me to get my bearings. I did find this post by Unpaved South America handy.
The van dropped us off at the entrance of Huacas de Moche, the museum and ticket booth. Entrance to Huaca de la Luna is 10 soles and 5 soles for the museum - although I was only charged 3 soles because either I looked like a University student or Peruvian. It’s worth visiting the museum before going to the temples as it does have English translations and a brief history of the people and the site.
It’s Monday, just before 8am and I’m writing this post poolside - there’s an air of tranquility at this time that helps me write. We’ve had more overcast days than sunshine this past fortnight, which doesn’t bother us as much when we’re in class during the week. Then as soon the sun comes out, it’s like we’re rats in a cage who can’t wait for the day to be over. Our classroom is on the veranda above the restaurant - where a cool breeze insists that we wear pants and jumpers.
Our second week brought the added challenge of teaching three night classes, an hour for each trainee. We taught primary aged students to adults at all levels, though last week I only had primary and adults. Although free to the community, they are real classes and we’re observed by our course trainers. The TEFL method is essentially total immersion learning - that means without the use of the native language. That suits me because my level of Spanish is less than most of the adults’ level of English! What’s been my biggest challenge? Getting reacquainted with grammar!
Zorritos is a small town in the province of Tumbes – a 2.5-hour flight from Lima and a world away from the one I was living in just a week ago. Even though Whakatane has roughly the same population as Zorritos, there is a vast change of pace and lifestyle. Where there were pine trees, I see coconuts and papayas. Not all roads and footpaths are paved, and without regular rain, dust nuisance is something you have to accept as a fact of life. I can’t say there has been much of a culture shock (except for the language barrier), because there are many towns in the Philippines that look just like this one. Maybe it will be an advantage, or it could hit me later.
We had studied World War I in school. There was a lot of focus on Gallipoli - teaching us about the brutal ANZAC campaigns and how it (and subsequently World War II) had robbed many towns and cities of a generation of men. No community escaped the melancholy of war - and even those who survived the bullets and shrapnel, their minds did not. For myself, born in a generation that has never experience a world war (or lived in a war torn country), I hope that we are not naive enough to think it won’t happen again. Exhibitions like Gallipoli are necessary to remind us that war is futile - the great loss of life is no victory for either side.
We left Whakatane around 8am - in the midst of a quiet morning fog and crisp Winter air, I grabbed a quick coffee at Z Petrol Station where I ran into an old friend. He was moving down south, where he had been studying for almost two years. The woman who made my coffee recognised me from the other day, and was nice enough to give me an extra stamp for a new coffee card. Small towns are great like that!
There’s something fascinating about our reaction to fog - it’s beautiful as long as it isn’t too thick that it becomes a real driving hazard. This was the case as I drove past Hell’s Gate in Tikitere, just outside of Rotorua. Geothermal tourism is big money in this area, and I would have loved to go in and take photos, so I settled for a roadside snap instead.
Myths, legends and folklore - there are plenty on Motiti Island. A rugged paradise that’s just a 15 minute flight from Mount Maunganui, yet it’s a world away, and a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Here, time is as slow as the 4WD truck that is driving us to the other side of the island, and so far the only real hazards are the deepening dirt roads, gates and wandering cows feasting on the wild fennel.
The private island is home to around 20 permanent residents, mainly retirees who have come home to honour their roots. They are Ngati Awa, and their hapū, Te Patuwai, have such a deep, long-held connection to the land that it’s hard to picture this place being any other way. This is an old place, and that day I walked in the footsteps of locals, history and time.