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Peru

One night and two days, it’s all I had in Lima after some stomach sickness in Huanchaco.  It is not a lot of time at all for such a large city.  It reminds me of Los Angeles in a lot of ways, it’s a city made up of sprawling district mini-cities that have their own character.  I would spend a lot of time just moving around.  As with most cities, I spent most of my time eating and visiting museums, something Lima had wonderful things of in spades.

I stayed in the Barranco district on the beach, which was described as Bohemian.  I neglected to see the part where it was like that 100 years ago and is now a romantic regentrified spot.  Too sterile for me.

I stayed in the Barranco district on the beach, which was described as Bohemian. I neglected to see the part where it was like that 100 years ago and is now a romantic regentrified spot. Too sterile for me.

I was often confused in the historical core whether I was back in Europe.  Lima was treated as a hub for Spain to rule by and had a museum of the inquisition.

I was often confused in the historical core whether I was back in Europe. Lima was treated as a hub for Spain to rule by and had a museum of the inquisition.

I went to the free central bank museum in the historical center. It had a great mix of ceramics, paintings, and other mediums spread out across the entire history of Peru.  I stopped in the central market and Chinatown but found both just to not be that different from many others I’d been to.  It was lively and bustling, I was just tired and holding out for better eats.

Disappointed by the expensive well known Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) restaurants, I headed to Chinen out in a working class hood highlighted in a video by Gaston Acurio.  This lomo saltado was pretty darned good but I was too full to really enjoy the rice-bean tacu tacu brick.

Disappointed by the expensive well known Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) restaurants, I headed to Chinen out in a working class hood highlighted in a video by Gaston Acurio. This lomo saltado was pretty darned good but I was too full to really enjoy the rice-bean tacu tacu brick.  The aji hot sauce had a good kick here.

The museum of the nation is a huge complex within the ministry of culture.  I had shown up here because the sixth floor has a permanent photography exhibit on the terrorism that gripped Peru in the 80s and 90s.  Although I love ancient history, I have an equal love for the more modern stuff that shapes their current culture that I was unaware of, even if I was alive.  The exhibit showed the idealism that drove all the various groups involved, the racial tensions that erupted, and the slow healing and ongoing pain that resulted from it all.

I went to the free central bank museum in the historical center.  It had a great mix of ceramics, paintings, and other mediums spread out across the entire history of Peru.

I really enjoy the closer relation with nature in their animal worship and cult of death to balance the duality of life and death.

The festivals here look fun.

The festivals here look fun.

That evening I tried to go to the Museo Larco, a privately owned collection on the northwest part of town.  I got some poor information from my hostel and the taxi was, as usual, useless dropping me off in the wrong part of town.  So instead I took a coastal walk that evening and returned the next morning.  It’s priced more like an international museum but I really enjoyed the beautiful gardens, well planned layout and descriptions in multiple languages, and depth of the collection.

Sure there were beautiful flowers all over the well manicured grounds, but I only took pictures of the creepy looking cactii.

Sure there were beautiful flowers all over the well manicured grounds, but I only took pictures of the creepy looking cactii.

Flava Flav is totally jealous of their royalty.

Flava Flav is totally jealous of their royalty.  How they moved around with all that stuff on, I just do not know.

There were all sorts of pottery describing how sacrifices worked.  This one is on a boat!

There were all sorts of pottery describing how sacrifices worked. This one is on a boat!

Peru had the world's first space invaders and pixel art.

Peru had the world’s first space invaders and pixel art.

One of my favorite parts of this museum was that they opened up their storehouses.  Although all museums only display a fraction of their collection, you could really see what that looked like here.  It gives you faith that it wasn't all destroyed by Conquistadores and grave robbers, or at least some were taken by grave robbers who opened museums.

One of my favorite parts of this museum was that they opened up their storehouses. Although all museums only display a fraction of their collection, you could really see what that looked like here. It gives you faith that it wasn’t all destroyed by Conquistadores and grave robbers, or at least some were taken by grave robbers who opened museums.

The other part of this museum that I quite enjoyed was the erotic gallery.  The Peruvian cultures were not afraid to create artwork of death or of sex, perhaps in stark contrast to our modern views on both subjects.  It was half the fun to watch squeamish looking Americans and Europeans trying to look either academic or just outright horrified at this well curated gallery.

It's only taboo because of our Puritanical society, they obviously thought all of this was great.

It’s only taboo because of our Puritanical society, they obviously thought all of this was great.

After the Larco museum, I had to unfortunately bolt and skip the nearby archaeological museum and head straight to lunch.  I decided against any of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants as La Mar has outlets in both San Francisco and New York City and went to the punnily named Pescado Capitales (pescado is fish, pecado is sins, or capital/seven deadly sins/fish).

Passing on the seven deadly sin named ceviches, I got the special of the day.  This is a strawberry and pineapple based fish and shrimp ceviche.

Passing on the seven deadly sin named ceviches, I got the special of the day. This is a strawberry and pineapple based fish and shrimp ceviche.

Grilled baby octopus and asparagus.  I guess I had to eat fancy to find some vegetables around here.

Grilled baby octopus and asparagus. I guess I had to eat fancy to find some vegetables around here.

After lunch I took an informative chocolate class at the not very cheap Choco Museo.  I am amused to learn Peru wasn’t historically a chocolate ingesting country, only using it for medicinal purposes.  It was a whirlwind tour to fit all that in two days but it was quite the blowout for my last stop abroad.  Next stop, through customs and back to the United States to visit friends in New York.  Let the domestic adventures begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While traveling I really enjoy perusing street art.  While in Asia, there wasn’t much graffiti to be had at all.  My first arrival in Budapest was a welcome to grime and dirt again, along with the joys of spray paint.  Alas most of that was single color poor renditions of names that no one could read.  I am then rather excited that Huanchaco, Peru had some interesting pieces.

If you're going to write your name, at least make it interesting.

If you’re going to write your name, at least make it interesting.

Ai Apaec, the Moche god, is depicted along with other local things.

Ai Apaec, the Moche god, is depicted along with other local legends.  It’s even covering up some lazy name graffiti.

Huanchaco is a seaside town known for using reed boats to fish for crabs.  Hopefully they aren't eating these crabs.

Huanchaco is a seaside town known for using reed boats to fish for crabs. Hopefully they aren’t meeting these crabs.

Here a local fisherman, known as a caballitos de totora (knight of the reed boat), fishing in front of things seen on local ancient temple walls.

Here a local fisherman, known as a caballitos de totora (knight of the reed boat), fishing in front of things seen on local ancient temple walls.  The pelicans can be seen on the beach hanging out near the boats waiting for fishy snacks.

This is some sort of Moche god/dragon creature that has a head on his tail holding up a head offering to the gods.  Certainly a modern depiction complete with reed boat.

This is some sort of Moche god/dragon creature that has a head on his tail holding up a head offering to the gods. Certainly a modern depiction complete with reed boat.

This has less to do with local lore as far as I'm aware but I liked the shapes and colors.

This has less to do with local lore as far as I’m aware but I liked the shapes and colors.

Nowadays, Huanchaco is popular for their surf culture but I'm happy to see the ancient cult of death sneaking in.

Nowadays, Huanchaco is popular for their surf culture but I’m happy to see the ancient cult of death sneaking in to the art.

Great beachside towns must also attract artists on top of the tourists and surfers.

The northern coast of Peru is known for its eats and as I stopped in my last area before I head to the big city of Lima, I intended to shove in all the seafood I could.  There was a lot of ceviche had as well as other scremingly fresh seafood.  The beachside town of Huanchaco meant prices were inflated for tourists, so a stop into Trujillo was a cheaper alternative.

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach.  Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach. Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

The crabs famous in this area.  The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado.  The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed.  They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

The crabs famous in this area. The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado. The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed. They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food.  My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits.  This is an anticucho of beef heart.  It's a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food. My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits. This is an anticucho of beef heart. It’s a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito.  Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito. Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches.  I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches. I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda.  Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda. Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola.  So Coca Cola bought them.  I find it overly sweet but it's supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola. So Coca Cola bought them. I find it overly sweet but it’s supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse.  That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse. That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Huanchaco did indeed have many tasty eats but many disappointments too.  The oft recommended El Caribe that I went to for cangrejo reventado (the crab) was more expensive than it should’ve been and did not have seaweed in its crab.  It was also creepily entirely empty, but perhaps I was there too early.  I also attempted to go to former legend Mococho multiple times.  It was closed on all the weekdays I went and I finally found it open on a Sunday.  Instead of the two questions “how hungry are you” and “spicy or not spicy?” leading to an amazing omakase like experience, I got an exasperated older woman who didn’t know what to do with single, alone me in an empty restaurant.  “We usually serve whole fish, but you… you are… alone!”  She ended up serving me a fish fillet with a greasy nut based sauce and a half assed garnish.  The lone good thing was her friendly son playing The Cure and other 80s rock .  I also attempted to go to El Mochica, a famous criollo food restaurant to try Monday-only shambar or pigeon stew pasta but found the Huanchaco location only served the same old fried seafood and ceviche every other place had at nicer restaurant prices.  Disappointing.  The over twenty year old Don Pepe had been replaced by some surfer pizza place.  It may not have been a culinary knock out but it was solidly good ceviche in many places.

Perhaps the best and most surprising meal may have been the one I stumbled onto at the place I was staying, the McCallum Lodging House.  The place is run by a lovely family that will cook the standard things one expects from a restaurant when they have enough people.  However I sniffed a family meal and nosed in to watch how they were doing it, and they invited me to join them for their clam, pepper & bread based stew. Ah, finally, the home style food that I couldn’t locate in a restaurant if I tried.  This is on top of the good handful of marcianos (think fruit puree otter pops) that I also enjoyed here.  So long Huanchaco, and thanks for all the fish.

I’ve landed in the beachside town of Huanchaco to relax for a bit as I near the end of my international explorations.  However that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to see.  There were ruins as always in north Peru and plenty of beach shenanigans.

The vendors in town mostly wore white vests I assume given by the city to specify their official status.  Except these guys, they wore some rump shakers every day.

The vendors in town mostly wore white vests I assume given by the city to specify their official status. Except these guys, they wore some rump shakers every day.

The caballitos de totora are fishers who use the reed boats (totoras) to catch delicious crabs.  I paid 2 bucks for a ride and was expecting to surf a wave.  I was sorely disappointed.  Thor Heyerdahl I am not

The caballitos de totora are fishers who use the reed boats (totoras) to catch delicious crabs. I paid 2 bucks for a ride and was expecting to surf a wave. I was sorely disappointed. Thor Heyerdahl I am not

The beach was beautiful if rather cold (which brings the delicious fish!)  For some reason they charged 50 cents to go on the pier.  Decidedly, only Peruvians went on it.

The beach was beautiful if rather cold (which brings the delicious fish!) For some reason they charged 50 cents to go on the pier. Decidedly, only Peruvians went on it.

The pelicans might be caballitos (little knights) as well, hanging out patiently waiting for fishermen to share.

The pelicans might be caballitos (little knights) as well, hanging out patiently waiting for fishermen to share.

Huanchaco is a surf town.  I'd like to learn more, but I don't think another one off lesson will help.  First, swim lessons, than really learning to surf!

Huanchaco is a surf town. I’d like to learn more, but I don’t think another one off lesson will help. First, swim lessons, than really learning to surf!

I visited the beautiful Huaca de Sol y Luna, two temples with a town they’re excavating in  between.  They suspect the Moche culture fell from El Nino.  Here I just thought that was a little extra rain.

That's the town currently being excavated as I stand on the Huaca Luna.  It's the only open part.  They don't even have the money to excavate Huaca Sol yet.

That’s the town currently being excavated as I stand on the Huaca Luna. It’s the only open part. They don’t even have the money to excavate Huaca Sol yet.

The famous hairless dog of Peru hang out where you want for your free English tour guide around the site.  Hooray for beer sponsored ruins.

The famous hairless dog of Peru hang out where you want for your free English tour guide around the site. Hooray for beer sponsored ruins.

The female looks a little warthoggy to me.  They are kept around terminal patients as they have really high body temperatures.

The female looks a little warthoggy to me. They are kept around terminal patients as they have really high body temperatures.

Each family had to tithe blocks and the more the better.  They marked the blocks with their family emblem to be counted.  I like happy face family.

Each family had to tithe blocks and the more the better. They marked the blocks with their family emblem to be counted. I like happy face family.

The front of huaca sol y luna  Huaca Sol y Luna is five temples, each built on top of the other at the end of each of their eras.  The top layer of mud bricks has been destroyed by rain but the front was ironically saved when conquistador robbers pilled rubble from the graves over the front.

The front of huaca sol y luna Huaca Sol y Luna is five temples, each built on top of the other at the end of each of their eras. The top layer of mud bricks has been destroyed by rain but the front was ironically saved when conquistador robbers pilled rubble from the graves over the front.

In stark contrast to the drag ladies of earlier, I was around for two virgin festivals.  They sure love their virgins here.  Like many festivals I've been to abroad, this involved the band in black face as "negritos" for reasons my hostel family couldn't explain to me.

In stark contrast to the drag ladies of earlier, I was around for two virgin festivals. They sure love their virgins and baby Jesuses here. Like many festivals I’ve been to abroad, this involved the band in black face as “negritos” for reasons my hostel family couldn’t explain to me.

Ok I giggle at Californian beach signs that say beware of groins, but this one straight up says no defecating.  Amazing.

Ok, I giggle at Californian beach signs that say beware of groins.  This one straight up says no defecating. Amazing.

Last, I leave you with the beautiful sunset I gazed at every day.  What a stunning and relaxing place.

Last, I leave you with the beautiful sunset I gazed at every day. What a stunning and relaxing place.

Chiclayo is another city known for pickpockets and thieves, an inauspicious warning for a city surrounded by ancient ruins.  They only discovered the ruins because an archaeologist noticed a lot of things showing up on the black market and moved quickly with the police to protect the pyramids.  It is no Machu Picchu, it’s also a good millennium earlier, from the Moche culture, which is even more impressive. I was talking to my friendly hostel owner (Muchik Hostel is a nice option in Chiclayo) and he mentioned that he wished more tourists would see their great treasure here.  I agree, why all flood Machu Picchu when there is this even more ancient trove?  There were all of twenty people at the pyramids as school is out and there were no groups of children.  They might want to do something about all the rip off taxis and pickpockets though.

End of the article has transport advice for how to do all of this on your own as I found guidebooks to be a bit scarce in details.  I’ve also skipped the cuisine of Chiclayo as I got no good pictures.  Arroz con pato (duck with cilantro/beer rice), chirimpico (offal and blood breakfast), and tortilla de raya (manta ray omelette) are all delicious but I found no stand out restaurants in town.  I also briefly stopped at the shaman market in Mercado Modelo but was off put by the overly aggressive clerks with their cheap looking bottles of colored oils and left to enjoy an anticucho (grilled skewer) of beef heart in front of the market instead.  Seemed like a safer way to get courage.

First stop is the beautifully laid out and designed Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in Lambayeque.  Unfortunately National Geographic owns the rights of the amazing finds inside, often called the Tutankhamun of the Americas, so we only get a building shot.

First stop is the beautifully laid out and designed Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan in Lambayeque. Unfortunately National Geographic owns the rights of the amazing finds inside, often called the Tutankhamun of the Americas, so we only get a building shot.

Afterwards I went to the older Brunning museum, which lacked ventilation in a hot day so I made a quick jaunt of it.  I rather enjoyed this whimsical looking statue of death and what looks like a wheel of cheese or whetstone.

Afterwards I went to the older Brunning museum, which lacked ventilation in a hot day so I made a quick jaunt of it. I rather enjoyed this whimsical looking statue of death and what looks like a wheel of cheese or whetstone.

Right next to death was this much more terrifying monkey.  My nightmares are filed with barrels of these.

Right next to death was this much more terrifying monkey. My nightmares are filed with barrels of these.

The kings were thought of as gods so the royal family and religiously important wore mouth masks to hide the fact they were mortals.  You wish you were important enough for a snazzy bling mustache.

The kings were thought of as gods so the royal family and religiously important wore mouth masks to hide the fact they were mortals. You wish you were important enough for a snazzy bling mustache.

The intricate metalwork is beautiful but the little stuff was impossible to get a good picture of.

The intricate metalwork is beautiful but the little stuff was impossible to get a good picture of.

The next day I headed to the actual site in Sipan which had another well designed and even newer museum.

These impish things seemed more European to me than Latin American.

These impish things seemed more European to me than Latin American.

They really like their death statues.

They really like their death statues.

They also really like their terrifying animals, this is a feline-humanoid mask.

They also really like their terrifying animals, this is a feline-humanoid mask.

The king got a seriously large mouth mask.

The king got a seriously large mouth mask.  I’m not sure how he ever spoke or moved his body with all this gold and silver on him.

I'm not sure how this guard was supposed to protect anyone, perhaps by blinding them with his golden chest?

I’m not sure how this guard was supposed to protect anyone, perhaps by blinding them with his golden chest?

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the poured metalwork that long ago.

I am constantly impressed by the quality of the poured metalwork that long ago.

You can tell what ancient Peruvians thought was important.  A-maize-ing. Har had har. There's a statue of peanuts, potatoes, and pumpkins right behind this one.

You can tell what ancient Peruvians thought was important. A-maize-ing. Har had har. There’s a statue of peanuts, potatoes, and pumpkins right behind this one.

Walking 200 meters from the parking lot and museum brings you to the actual pyramid site.

It's no terra cotta warriors of Xi'an but that is still a heck of a lot of jars.

It’s no terra cotta warriors of Xi’an but that is still a heck of a lot of jars.

The recreated grave of the lord of Sipan.  When being buried in a pyramid don't forget your important wife, your military chief, your other wives, a random child, your llama, and jars to hold snacks.

The recreated grave of the lord of Sipan. When being buried in a pyramid don’t forget your important wife, your military chief, your other wives, a random child, your llama, and clay jars to hold snacks.

Two millenniums is not very kind to adobe pyramids.  I'm not sure what the metal sheeting is covering as they told me excavation has stopped.

Two millenniums is not very kind to adobe pyramids. I’m not sure what the metal sheeting is covering as they told me excavation has stopped.

Well ok, this pyramid was slightly less eroded.  I'm not really sure why.

Well ok, this pyramid was slightly less eroded. I’m not really sure why.

The view from the top of the pyramids was wonderful against the runny pyramids.

The view from the top of the pyramids was wonderful against the runny pyramids.

There are tours available through Mochi Tours in town, however I found them a little steep (70 soles/28 USD) given we were skipping the Lambayeque museums as the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan is closed on Mondays.  It’s completely possible to do alone but public transportation is always slower and there isn’t a huge amount of English descriptions.  Museums are all 10 soles or less and an English guide is available at the Museum of the Royal Tombs of Sipan for 30 soles.  The Spanish guide is free and friendly as he follows you around telling you stuff even after I told him I didn’t speak much Spanish.  The museum stores, a random favorite of mine, were lacking as they were mostly replaced with stalls of tchotchky vendor instead.

How to get to Lambayeque: There are collectivo taxis that leave from either Avenida Angamos or San Martin (I forget which) just north of San Jose street.  There are vans just on the street or an actual office midway down the block with cars.  They leave when full.  Get off near the main market in Lambayeque or just tell them you want to go to the museo.  Should be 1.5 soles.

How to get back to Chiclayo; The collective taxis gather either kitty corner from the Brunning Museum (you can see the sign in front of the park) or on the main street between the two museums.  You’ll return to the same park in Chiclayo you left near.  1.5-2 soles.

How to get to Sipan: Go to the Tepsel minibus station where Castaneda Iparraguirre and Avenida Agricultura meet.  The Sipan bus is buried in the complex, just keep asking where the Sipan bus is.  It leaves every half hour (Latin American style, so whenever it feels like, maybe on time).  After passing the first town of Sipan, mention you want to go to “los piramedes” and they’ll let you off in the parking lot for the museum on the right.  You’ll see the pyramids before this.  To get back, catch the same bus going back.  3 soles each way.

Next up I head to the coast to enjoy yet more delicious food and relax.  I’m nearing the end of my adventuring towns in foreign countries.

Well after booking tickets back to the United States, I have about two weeks left in Peru.  So, I could rush down to Machu Picchu (40 hours by bus!) or I could actually explore northern Peru.  First stop after Zorritos is the hot all year round Piura.  Described by most as a stop only to change buses, i’ve stopped to try the renowned food.  The Piurans claim Lima stole their traditional food.

The city itself does not contain a lot of things to see, with only the requisite church or two and otherwise a bustling downtown where people were working.  I was underwhelmed with the chavelo (yuca, green plantains and a dried meat) at famous Los Santitos in town so I headed out to Catacaos, a town known for it’s arts, crafts and Criollo cuisine.  I got lost, found the regular market and enjoyed a ceviche snack, and finally found the artisan market to buy souvenirs.  I’ve always said my family and friends are getting presents from my last country, and this is it.

Next up was lunch.  The tourist information office suggested one place, and I was mildly concerned when the cab driver told me that place was too rustic and took me to a place instead that he pointed out “had more families”.  I assume I lost something in translation.  Luckily I didn’t need to worry.

Seriously delicious goat stew (seco de cabrito) with the most deliciously moist green tamales.  You could taste the lard!

Seriously delicious goat stew (seco de cabrito) with the most deliciously moist green tamales. You could taste the lard!

Sadly, that taxi incident was probably the best of the interactions I’ve had in this town as most of the taxi drivers are double charging me.  It infuriates me more that they know it, they know I know it, but what do you do then?  It helps to know the exact rates things should be and just plant that in their hand before walking out.

I’m a speed shopper and rushed back to Piura to try some of the famed ceviche.  The darned cevicherias are only open for lunch between about noon to four.  Don Pedrito, what Gaston Acurio said was the best he’s ever had.  I don’t know about that but it was good.  I could’ve used a bit less lime and more chiles.  It was a bit hard to find as it had moved to 280 Roma from its listed address in an article as 132 Roma.

What is more beautiful that a mountain of ceviche and beer?

What is more beautiful that a mountain of ceviche and beer?  The national dish of Peru I’m sure.

The accommodation in Peru is proving more expensive than I thought.  So while I am occasionally still able to get my own room, sometimes the bathrooms are shared.

Sometimes there are monkey bear things in the hotel that I can't identify.

Sometimes there are monkey bear things in the hotel that I can’t identify.

Onwards I go through this desert wasteland that is the northern Peruvian coast.  The bus rides are through dusty empty lanes and the cities are not on the gringo trail, for better or worse.

I never quite know what to write when the guesthouse hands me an otherwise inoffensive book that asks what my occupation is.  They always try to helpfully ask if I am a student.   I just look at them, puzzled, trying to figure out if they would accept traveler as an occupation.  I walked away from a career in video games over a year ago now, claiming a creative sabbatical to find inspiration.  Yet even now, a year after I last did any contracting work on the road, I wonder if I want to return to a world of dark, sunless rooms, long days followed by long nights, and a macho, often even masochistic culture.  So as I am beginning to get tired and look forward to hanging up my backpack for a bit, I decided to see just how I feel about making games again.  I signed up for a game jam, a closed time period event in which you try to make a complete video game.  Usually they are a weekend long but this one is ten days long.  I also set out to find the perfect conditions to create.

My idea of a perfect office apparently exists in Zorritos, Peru.

My idea of a perfect office apparently exists in Zorritos, Peru.

My perfect conditions involve an open air patio covered in palm fronds where I can view the ocean, hear the crashing waves, and feel a cooling sea breeze in the warm tropical air.  I paid a bit of a premium to make sure I had internet as it is not as prevalent in this part of the world as it was back in Southeast Asia.  However, a small price to pay to be comfortable while I took a hard look at my career and life choices.  I blog about my development experience over at my not-often-used-this-year work site.

I'm not sure if this lady lives there as well, but she's in that shack all day frying up fish or turning it into ceviche.  What a location.

I’m not sure if this lady lives there as well, but she’s in that shack all day frying up fish or turning it into ceviche. What a location.

Unfortunately the fairly empty beaches were visited less than I intended as the sand was blisteringly hot, waves quite strong and close to shore, and I somehow got a sunburn after only half an hour in the sun for the first time in my life.  The last straw was when I went one day and the local men were the cleaning up the beach, which does help the general ambiance.  Their wolf whistles and cat calls every few minutes were less than pleasing.  While this whistling and cat calling goes on around town as well, it is not nearly as often.  For reasons I cannot fathom, some people even have horns that make wolf whistle sounds.  Instead I spent half my time at the hotel pool and after I finished my project in the extra large hammocks.  It is perhaps not a good sign that post-project I took a day to do nothing but recuperate and knew I could use a few more days to do so.

Clusters of fishing boats could be seen in a few directions.  There was also an oil rig flaming away offshore but that didn't seem to affect the rather clean water.

Clusters of fishing boats could be seen in a few directions. There was also an oil rig flaming away offshore but that didn’t seem to affect the rather clean water.

The loss of my smartphone last month means I didn’t have anything with me to take pictures as I encountered endless ceviches and other seafood mountains on the coast.  Alas the food was often even more expensive than back in America and I wonder if getting off the coast would help that.  I have booked a plane ticket to return to the United States though so I will be enjoying my last few weeks in a balmy summer before returning for the caboose of winter.  After ten days of working on a game, I can say I enjoy working with my friends and creating things again but I certainly do not miss the head banging inane frustrations as challenging nor do I care to be working such long days and nights again.  I’m not too sure where or what next, but it should be exciting.