38 days in Peru

These days were very emotional.

On the one hand, I'm a little bit upset, that I didn't manage to visit some iconic places of Peru because of the natural disaster that happened there during my trip. But on the other hand, it was such a powerful experience, that after going through it, I feel that I'm not the person that I used to be before. I feel much stronger and wiser. I feel a little bit proud of myself. I feel happier and more grateful. I'm glad that it happened to me. I've learned a lot about life and people around me. I have a great story to tell.

The Peruvian trip started with adventure at the border with Ecuador, which I described in the previous post ("Ecuador"). After that, exhausted and with a terrible headache I arrived to Máncora. It's a small village with good waves for surfing, but there is nothing else to do. The beach is not very nice and no impressive hikes around.

Máncora welcomed me with rain. After spending few days there I was about to leave for my next destination, but I figured out that the road there were flooded. So I had to stay in Máncora until the rain stops and the road dries up. It took me two days. It was nothing. It wasn't even the beginning of disaster.

I took the bus to Trujillo. The first day there I was robbed. Luckily, only my money was stolen, and not too much. My beloved camera and laptop are with me. That incident made me much more cautious about the people I've just met.

The next few days were very nice. I was walking around the beautiful historical center with nice colonial architecture and making pictures. And I had time to visit all the sights around the city: Huaca de la Luna and Chan Chan.

It was raining every day in the afternoon but I didn't really care about that, just was spending afternoons somewhere under the roof. But very soon I realized that the roofs there are not made to protect you from the rain. Trujillo usually is very dry. Almost a desert. They haven't had rains like this for decades. So first, most of the buildings were flooded from above.

But after few days of heavy rain the real disaster happened. There are two rivers not far from the city and they overflowed. Streams of muddy water swept away several villages and small towns on its way and reached Trujillo. But the first few days there it wasn't that bad. Just in the afternoons the little rivers started to run down the street. It was uncomfortable, our feet were dirty and wet, the traffic became worse, some people put few bags with sand in front of the doors of their homes, shops, restaurants, offices to prevent the water coming inside. Every afternoon many people were going out to the streets and were looking at the sky, trying to guess, how much rain it would be that day.

It was the beginning of disaster. As the rain didn't stop, streams became stronger and stronger. Finally they turned into a real powerful rivers running down the streets and carrying mud and different heavy objects with them. There grew up the barricades of the sandbags not only in front of building entrances, but and blocking entire streets.

Couple days we were just blocked inside our hostel. Then the rain stopped, but it wasn't the end of the disaster at all.

Many roads were flooded and ruined, so it was impossible to go anywhere by land. And all the flights were sold out for 7-10 days ahead. So we're stuck there. And of course, it was impossible to deliver anything to the city from the outside, so, first, the water disappeared from all the stores, then the most of the food. And the prices increased 3-4 times.

Luckily we had some reserve of food and there was tap water in our hostel, so we could boil and drink it. All this was accompanied by the fact that a huge amount of mud and sand, brought by water, dried under the scorching sun of Trujillo and arose a dense cloud of dust, so that breathing without a mask or respirator was impossible.

After few days of hoping that they'd fix the road and I could escape by bus, I lost hope and booked a flight in one week, it was impossible to book earlier. So I just had to stay there, save water and gas, look for Internet connection to text my family and friends that I'm ok, wear mask and hope that the rain doesn't come back.

There were big problems with internet, telephones, electricity, tap water (I was super lucky, in our hostel we had tap water all days) and, as I already mentioned, food and drinking water. But I survived!

Two days before my flight I moved to Huanchaco. It's the beach town close to Trujillo. Mostly because it's very close to the airport and I was very afraid of being stuck in Trujillo and missing my flight. But also because I was very tired of Trujillo.

Huanchaco suffered from the flood as well, but was already recovering when I moved there. Last day before my flight I was rewarded by perfect waves. So I managed to surf properly in Peru after all.

While staying in Huanchaco I also visited a rescue center for people who lost their houses during the flood. I visited it with one charity organization to help them bring food and drinking water for those people. It was a heartbreaking experience- seeing people with little kids, who lost everything and had to live in a tent and wait for help. But thank goodness there are always awesome people who are ready to help.

After spending in Trujillo and Huanchaco 19 days in total, I finally had my flight. It was a flight to Cusco with a layover in Lima. My flight from Huanchaco to Lima was on time. My flight from Lima to Cusco was cancelled because of "the bad weather conditions in Cusco". Since the weather in Cusco was perfect that day, I think the airline just decided to save money and combined few flights as they were not fully booked. So, I spent 15 hours in the airport of Lima before I finally had my flight to Cusco.

Cusco was amazing! Despite the fact it's on the altitude of 3300 meters and it's damn freezing there, especially in the nights. It could have been ok if it was cold outside but you come back to the warmth of your room. But as they don't have any heating, the temperature inside and outside was the same. So you have to sleep fully dressed under the three blankets and it's cold anyway.

The historical center of the city is beautiful and look authentic because here and there you can see women walking around in national clothes with alpacas and lambs and men in the clothes of incas. And everywhere they sell national souvenirs and clothes made of alpaca's fur.

From Cusco you can go to a plenty tours and hikes. Inca's ruins, different mountains and, of course, Machu Picchu.

Obviously, I visited Machu Picchu. There's no need to describe how wonderful and impressive it is. Even people who haven't been there can imagine it. Also I did the hike to Rainbow mountains. It's a difficult hike to the altitude of 5200 meters which makes your body suffer a lot because of the lack of oxygen and air pressure. And also the weather was awful that season. Rainy, muddy, slippery. I'd never go there again, I think.

In general, I'm very happy with the time spent in Peru and definitely would recommend everyone to visit this beautiful country at least once in a lifetime.

SPECTER photography


Inna Nikitina