Friday, January 2, 2015

Puerto Eten’s New Look

Puerto Eten has always served as our getaway destination. It is a small, quiet village with nothing of note to see. It does have several impressive though decaying colonial homes and a church that speaks of the towns glory days when it was the railroad hub of the Lambayeque Region, but beyond that there is nothing. Tourists don’t go there, and most of the local’s experience with the village is seeing it from a combi window in route to Eten, a larger town seven miles distant.

The beach is our main reason for going there. For whatever reason it has the most distinctive and attractive stones of any beach in the area. Nature doesn’t produce many green stones, but they can be found on Puerto Eten’s beach. And there is no competition while looking for them. On most days we have the entire beach to ourselves, with only the sound of the waves bouncing off the towering bluffs as our companion. It had been awhile since we’ve been to the village. Working with our charity and traveling to more distant places had kept us away, so we decided to start the New Year with a walk on the beach.

What a difference 18 months can make! This is the same beach from the opposite angle. There were as many people behind me as in front when I took this photo. There were easily over 10,000 people on the beach, and hundreds of busses, taxis and mototaxis in the village streets constantly dropping off and picking up passengers. To the left are two new condos. We saw three more being constructed. Condos in Puerto Eten…I would never have imagined it.

Many of the younger people had been on the beach overnight. There had been a staged event to bring in the New Year, and given the size of the now mostly dismantled structure and number of empty beer cases we assume a good time was had by all.

The beach has been completely transformed, with the center piece being a brick and concrete malecòn that extends for perhaps a half mile. Along the way there are shaded area with benches, restrooms, and outdoor showers to wash sand off the feet.  There is also a modern restaurant with attractive outdoor seating with an unusual amount of elbow room between tables.

Walking through the village we saw, in addition to the new condos several new homes and many new restaurants. It appears that the town is hurrying to catch up to the transformed beach.

In only 18 months Puerto Eten has changed dramatically. A few years ago the town had an internet site (if it still exists I can’t find it) showing ambitious modernization plans with futuristic 3-D graphics that looked other-world. I doubted those plans would materialize, at least in the foreseeable future.  It looks like I was wrong.

The New Year’s Day crowd is not an everyday thing, but there is no doubt the village is on its way to becoming a tourist destination for visitors from the surrounding area, and in the very near future rivaling Pimentel for foreign visitors as well. It’s a good situation for the village, but not so good for those of us who went there to get away. We’re going to have to find another isolated beach somewhere. Preferably one with green stones.

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