En route to our second surfing destination in Peru, we met a nice couple from Alaska. They had spent a lot of time traveling around Ecuador and Peru over the last 10 years and bought a piece of land in Ecuador where they eventually plan on retiring. It’s been interesting to meet so many expats that have decided to settle in Ecuador along the way. Who would have thought!
After leaving Mancora at 9am, we reached our bus change over in Piura only a couple hours later. The four of us sat in the dingy station for over an hour until the next bus heading south arrived. Our new friends got off in the large, busy, and not so attractive town of Chiclayo. The bus agent from Mancora told us the bus would stop in Chicama, our original destination by 5pm. But as that time came and went and we were nowhere near our destination we decided on the closer surf town of Pacasmayo. The bus skirted through the dingy countryside and at 7 pm pulled over at a cement plant that looked like the moon. Luckily, there was a Moto taxi there to take us the 5 kilometers into town. We had been referred to a place called Sol y Mar, but our young driver said the roads there were under construction and undrivable, so he took us to another hostal he recommended. I took a quick look at Hostal Duke Kahanamoku and it seemed comfortable, clean and worth $20/ night. The owner Otto and his helper were very nice and accommodating. We planned to only stay one night and then move onto Chicama, but with the lack of surf along the entire coast, my cold getting worse and us not wanting to get on another bus so soon, we stayed for three nights in this small, dusty, quiet, Christian town. By the last day, I was so sick I couldn’t even get out of bed. Most places we stay in don’t have a TV and even if they do we never turn them on. But this time I was so grateful for a television. I just laid in bed, rested, watched movies and music videos all day, while Abe checked in on me with tea and food. What a wonderful husband!
Since we didn’t know where our final destination would be before heading to Lima, I booked us an overnight bus out of the city of Trujillo to Lima online. Once we started looking for a bus from Pacasmayo to Trujillo, we discovered that not only were there direct buses from there, but there was also an actual bus terminal. So instead of the easy one bus route to Lima we had an adventure ahead of us. Once again we found ourselves traveling on a Sunday, so all the buses were booked out by the day before. We found an office that directed us toward vans that supposedly left every 20 minutes to Trujillo. We checked out the bus station and found a bus company that left every 30 minutes. So we thought we would be covered. The next day we had a Moto taxi pick us up from Dukes at 5pm for the bus terminal, but once we arrived the same man that told Abe buses left every 30 minutes now said there weren’t any more for the day. At the same moment we looked over at the minivans and there was a line wrapping around the driveway to get on one. They were jam packed. There was no way we would be able to get on with all our luggage. We were at a loss. Our bus out of Trujillo was set to leave at 10pm and was two and half hours away. We still had time to sort this out, hopefully…. We ran up to every bus labeled Trujillo, but all were full. At least we received some entertainment through this process when they pulled a few goats out from the luggage compartment of a bus and then pushed them into a two-seater Moto taxi. Even the locals were pointing and laughing. Eventually, the same man that said there weren’t anymore buses sold us a ticket to one that would arrive in 40 minutes. We shook our heads, but gladly bought two seats. Unsure of where the bus would drop us off in the big city of Trujillo in reference to the Cruz del Sur station, we could only hope for the best. After two hours along bumpy roads and many stops, we arrived far from where we needed to be. We grabbed a taxi and arrived at the beautiful mini station of Cruz del Sur.
Now we had heard that the buses in South America could be luxurious, but we hadn’t experienced it until now. I researched online and Cruz del Sur Suites seemed to be the nicest option. When we walked into the bus station, it was a clean, safe and a well organized waiting room. Abe walked down the street to find us dinner before our 10pm bus departed. The one thing you will always find in South America is roasted chicken with French fries and salad for cheap. The quality is always hit or miss, but Abe hit the jackpot on this one. It was by far the best one we had. Flavorful chicken, real potato French fries and a healthy salad with avocado.
This time I booked us for the top floor experience. The black leather seats were the size of captains chairs, 1/3 larger than any normal bus. Waiting on our seats were fluffy pillows and blankets for a good night sleep. The attendant came through and asked us what type of tea, coffee or juice we wanted before bed and handed us a sandwich. This was luxury! There was wifi as well, but we were too tired to even look. Cruz del Sur was a direct bus, other than changing over drivers every four hours. The only annoying thing about these buses is that they aren’t allowed to go over 100 kilometers per hour and every time they did, the ticker at the front would continue to beep until the driver went back to 99. But it didn’t stop us from a good night sleep. We woke up to the dirty, busy, poverty stricken city of Lima and were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.
After 11 hours we arrived at the bus station, only to be turned down by taxi after taxi due to our large surfboard bag. Eventually, one accepted but argued the whole way about charging us extra. Eventually, we arrived at Abes’ cousins’ wifes’ family apartment in Miraflores, Lima. This high-rise apartment building on the Malecon de La Reserva overlooking the ocean was going to be our slice of heaven for the next 3 nights. When we arrived, there was a small loss in communication and a key was not available. So we dropped our bags and walked to the main road until we found a place for breakfast and Wi-Fi. Within minutes, the lovely Ashley emailed me back and said her dads’ cousin would be there to give us a key in about an hour. We weren’t worried. We were happy to be off the bus, enjoying some tasty eggs and coffee.
Their apartment has two stories, 3 bedrooms and ocean views from every room. Since this is their second home, we had it all to ourselves. Over the next three days we found the ‘Whole Foods” of Miraflores, cooked delicious meals, drank wine on the deck watching the sun dip into the ocean, ran, met up with Alberto, a friend of Abe’s and relaxed. The cliff top strip of Miraflores is the most stunning urban boardwalk I’ve ever seen. It’s lined with clean and beautiful parks, giant artwork, restaurants, and an impressive and expensive outdoor mall.
Our time in Miraflores was one of fun, r & r, and sadness. It had only been a little over a month since we found out about my grandmother, Mary’s pancreatic cancer. But she was ready to let go. My grandfather, mom, aunt, Mary’s son and his wife and a hospice nurse all stayed by her side for her last few days. My mom said she had accepted it and was going in peace, even cracking jokes in the days leading up. She was a wonderful, smart, funny and just down right incredible woman. She married my grandfather when I was 12 and has been a shining light in our lives ever since. Love and light to you always, Grandma Mary!
Not only did Abe and I have some fun date nights (if you can call them that when you spend everyday together), but Abe also got to reunite with an old friend, Alberto he hadn’t seen in many many years. He picked us up and showed us one of the nicest restaurants along the coast of Miraflores. We sipped on pisco sours, cervezas and sampled almost all the seafood they had to offer. The food, ambience, and company were all amazing. After dinner, he drove us to downtown Lima to show us the historical section at midnight. Less traffic and beautiful lights! What a treat before we had to leave for the airport the next morning. Next stop Cusco!
Pacasmayo to Miraflores, Lima