Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Let's visit the ocean.

We’re still got a lot to discuss about Chiclayo, such as earning a living, leisure activity, customs and cultures, but what would you think about taking a break and visiting one of the towns on the Pacific ocean? Where we go depends on what you’d like to see. We could go to a tourist town such as nearby Pimentel, or a fishing village like Santa Rosa, San Jose or Puerto Eten. What both have in common is, nowhere in the north will you see groomed white sand beaches with beach cabanas and uniformed staff waiting to serve your next piña colada at the snap of your fingers. Let’s visit one of the fishing towns and you’ll see what I mean.

Santa Rosa is about a 30 minute combi ride from Chiclayo. I don’t know what the population is….let’s just say it’s small. Main street boarders the beach and runs parallel to the ocean. As you would expect it’s a quiet town with people living their lives much as their ancestors did centuries ago. There are a couple of hostals and a few small restaurants, but there is no push to accommodate tourists. This town is all about fishing, and small scale fishing related industry. If you’re looking for diversion or entertainment you need to go to Chiclayo. The problem with that is public transportation between the towns stops running at about 9:00pm.

Though I frequently visit this town, I have yet to figure out the routine of the fishing boats. It seems to me like they’re always just sitting on the beach. I’ve never seen one of the bigger boats launch or dock (if that’s what it can be called). I’m told the cost of some of the larger boats in the photo is in the $150,000 range. With all that money invested, why are they sitting on the beach?

The smaller boats launch regularly, which I enjoy watching. It’s all done with muscle power. The boat is rolled to the water on logs, and then turned to face the ocean, which is no simple task. If the waves are high it takes the strength of every man to keep the boat from turning sideways and washing up on the beach. While that’s going on provisions and many sacks of salt are being loaded. The whole process takes nearly an hour. I’ve also noticed that each boat does its own thing….there is no concerted movement of “the fleet”.

And just like all Peruvians, the folks of Santa Rosa are more than willing to sit back and talk with you, even if you can’t speak Spanish. Fishermen don’t really need language. A few grunts and gestures can get across anything, including what bait you used, how deep you fished and how many you caught of each species. And of course we all take pride in displaying our catch.

As for the beaches we talked about earlier, they’re not the picture postcard beaches some guide books would have you believe. These are not Florida or California beaches. There are no waving palm trees, volley ball nets, or hundreds of beach bums and bunnies. Except for the fishermen there are seldom any people. But there is sand and blue sky, and lots of pretty colored stones, and pelicans, and the cry of seagulls and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore, and a beach all to yourself to watch the sun rise or set. What better setting to sit and reflect on this wonderful country that is Peru.


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