Hello all! As I`m sure you all want to hear what I`ve been up to on the other side of the Pacific, I`ve decided to post something of my travels. Unfortunately, none of this will be chronological because my camera conveniently conked out on the fifth day of my trip to the north of Peru, so we`ll start there because otherwise there won`t be any photos in the posts!
As we headed north up the coast, I was surprised to see the seemingly never-ending desert hills of Lima change into a vast expanse of tropical green. We arrived in Tumbes, a little town near the border of Ecuador in the early morning, after an overnight bus ride providing us with little rest. We had little time to complain though, because soon enough we were on the coast again, the reek of fish strongly present. To my immense surprise we were in a small coastal village, a port to be more particular, with hundreds of brightly-painted boats dotting the water. There were locals everywhere, trying to sell the morning's catch or whatever other little trinkets they deemed sellable. Puerto Pizarro, as the place was called, was the initial landing place of the Spanish conquistador, where he sussed out the Incas technology as well as wealth before coming back a few years later to conquer Peru.
Much to my delight, we boarded a little green and red boat and explored the river, which was lined with mangroves and hundreds of water birds. It was a little rickety at times, especially as we wove through endless little tunnels of green, but finally we reached a quaint jetty upon which we disembarked. We had reached a crocodile reserve, home to the last few remaining crocs in Peru. They had them in every shape and size- from little babies right up until the grandparents. I got to hold a particularly fiesty little one who took much joy in slapping me in the face with his tail when I got too close. While I admired the conservation efforts, it saddened me to see at least 66 adults in an enclosure no bigger in size than a school classroom, with a pool large enough to fit three of them at a time, maximum.
From there we jumped back on the boat until we reached an island which separated the sea and the river. Everyone dipped in for a much-needed swim in the tropical heat and I acquired a sunburn that made me appear akin to a lobster. We were then treated to a lunch of ceviche (a specialty of the north, raw fish oxidised with the acid of lemon or lime, served with red onion, roasted corn kernels, fried banana and South American potato-like vegetable) and rice, chicken and chips (no surprises there). Exhausted, I then slept the afternoon away in a hammock.
Before arriving back at the hotel (named El Dorado funnily enough), we made a quick trip into town to see the Plaza de Armas. Tumbes' holds a colourful mosaic of the history of the city, from the once-flourishing jungle with big cats and deer to the conquest of the Incas by the Spaniards. For a little town, the plaza was definitely full of life, with kids running everywhere poppin bubbles to street vendors selling the Peruvian equivalent of Toys R Us off their backs.
I was pleasantly surprised with Tumbes, and to top the night off we were even treated to a tropical rain shower in which everyone danced like maniacs in the street. I guess that's what you get when you have forty exhausted exchange students who are excited to head off to Ecuador the next morning!