PASEO Program Adventure: Overview

Throughout the past two months, I’ve been living in Huanchaco, Peru, and even though my trip is officially over, I wanted to dedicate a post to the town I called home this past summer. 

“Huanchaco is a surfing and fishing village about 30 minutes north of Trujillo- the capital of the region, La Libertad, and the third biggest city in Peru. Huanchaco is best known for having waves that are surfable year-round and for it’s traditional ancient fishing methods using reed fishing boats called Caballitos de Totora. These boats data back 3,000 years and numerous festivals throughout the year celebrate this fishing culture.

The town of Huanchaco has about 5000 inhabitants, and is home to several shanty towns that are largely populated by migrants from the highlands. Many of these migrants came to the coastal region due to extensive flooding caused by the natural phenomenon El Niño in 1997/1998. In addition to the influx of migrants over the past twenty years, Huanchaco has also had a small but significant increase in the number of European expats living in the area. This population change is largely related to the increasing presence of international NGOs and international schools in the Trujillo area, as well as to the pleasant climate and laid-back lifestyle” (paseoprogram.com).

The peaceful and serene atmosphere in Huanchaco is truly unique and refreshing, and the locals are incredibly kind and welcoming. While it can be difficult adjusting to a new location in a different country, and while it can often be strange and uncomfortable calling another place your home, things are different in this town. In Huanchaco, home is exactly the word one would use to describe the sensation you experience while staying here.

Aside from being able to live in such a wonderful town, throughout this experience, I was fortunate enough to have made such great friends who truly enhanced the feeling of being home. Living and working in Peru alongside incredible individuals in such a beautiful country has been the experience of a lifetime, and one that I hope will take place again in the near future. (Stay tuned for more on that later). 

In the meantime (of course, until tomorrow), I’ll end on this note. It can absolutely be nerve-racking and even terrifying to pick up and move to a different country to pursue a new adventure. We don’t all need to make such drastic changes, but at least being open to new possibilities and adventures is truly important. A challenge that we can all work towards overcoming is not allowing our fears to overpower our desires to pursue new experiences. We never know what awaits us on the other side if we don’t take a leap of faith once in a while and try something new and exciting. 

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PASEO Program Adventure—Day 57: Lima, Peru

This morning (Saturday), I booked a tour through Viator called Lima Colors and Flavors. The tour guide picked me up from my hotel at 9:30am, and once we picked up the other tourists, we drove to the district of Chorrillos, which is a local town that prides themselves on fishing. Here, the fishermen can be found fishing at 4:00am, 11:00am, and between 2:00-3:00pm. Their wives can often be found tending their stands in the fish market. Based on the times that the fishermen are out fishing, it is recommended to eat ceviche in the early afternoon and not for dinner, since the fish is freshest earlier on in the daytime.

Once we finished walking around the fish market and the port, we continued our tour in the Chorrillos neighborhood, and walked around the local markets. We sampled a wide variety of fruits native to Peru including lucuma, granadilla, tuna, aguaymanto, chirimoya, pepino dulce, pitahaya, tumbó, and platano de isla. The colors of the fruits were vibrant, and the fresh taste of each one was absolutely delicious.

Following our walk around the local markets, we stopped for lunch in a cevichería, where we ordered chicha morada to drink (made from purple corn, cinnamon, cloves, a little sugar, and pineapple), and triples which included arroz chaufa, chicharron de pescado, y ceviche. The food was great, and it was just what we needed to continue our walking tour.

After lunch, we drove to the district of Barranco, and saw the Bajada de los Baños  (a pathway to the ocean), as well as the romantic Bridge of Sighs, which is known to be a romantic site. It is also said that if you walk across the bridge while holding your breath, you are entitled to a wish. As we walked around the district, we came across beautiful art painted by talented local painters. In 2015, Barranco organized a competition named “Las Paredes Hablan” (The Walls Speak). About one hundred people entered the competition, and the ten finalists were each given public wall space to paint their artwork. Some of the incredible art work can be seen pictured below.

As nighttime approached, I stopped by Larcomar, an impressive outdoor shopping center located by the ocean in The district of Miraflores. There is a free art museum that features paintings and photography from local Peruvian artists, so I made sure to check that out, before enjoying dinner (ají de gallina) and walking around the center.

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Day 2 In Cartagena, Colombia: Canoeing In La Boquilla

Upon waking up in the morning, we began our day by heading out to La Boquilla, a fisherman village in Cartagena where individuals from class zero and class one live (the two lowest socioeconomic classes in the city). La Boquilla is considered to be a fisherman village because the main activity for locals here is fishing. Fishing is so great in this area because the ocean is connected to the swamp, so local fisherman are able to catch fish from both areas of water. If you were to go to the village at 5:30am, you could purchase caught fish that are still alive, swim in the local water, and go prepare your freshly caught lunch.

There is a lot of construction taking place around La Boquilla, especially the building of hotels, so the locals have worked out a deal with the government. The deal is that hotels building around La Boquilla must employ 20 percent of their staff from the area. In addition, the must either feed these individuals once a month, or educate them in order to help give back to this community.

La Boquilla is known for having the biggest natural reserve in Cartagena. Mangroves here grow up and down, similar to the path of a circle. This is because when the mangrove grows downwards, it creates a new mangrove tree that continuously repeats the process. You can also tell the color of the mangrove by looking at the bottom of the trunk. The colors can be black, red, or white.

Something interesting about La Boquilla is the fact that numerous members of the community come together to raise money for one another and for their neighborhood. This is evident in the fact that some members make the canoes by hand, others row the canoes when tourists come to town, and a select few are in charge of organizing visits from tour groups in Cartagena. These canoe rides, offered on what is called a bote canoa chalupa (or small canoe boat), are a main source of income to the locals in La Boquilla, and they take great pride in the work that they collectively do.