Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Couple Days in Piura

Piura is not my favorite Peruvian city. Day time temperatures year round are too hot, and there isn’t much to see there. You would think that Peru’s fifth largest and second oldest city would have more to offer. Piura residents may take exception to my saying ‘second oldest city’ but the fact is that Pizarro first founded San Miguel de Tangararâ, about 40 miles northwest of Piura. Sometime later the location was deemed ‘unhealthy’ and the Spaniards relocated in July 1532 to present day San Miguel de Piura.

One attraction is the home of Admiral Miguel Grau, a war hero who died in combat in the Pacific war with Chile. Wikipedia says that Grau was born in Paita, a city on the coast to the west of Piura  but most sources claim he was born in Piura and moved with his family at age nine to Paita. Either way the home, which has been completely reconstructed contains lots of period furnishings and Grau family memorabilia.

A scale model of the ship Huascar that Grau was commanding when he was killed in battle October 1879 is on display. Following Grau’s death the Chilean navy captured and repaired the ship and then used it in defeating Peru. The ship is maintained as a memorial ship/museum in the port of Talcahaune, Chile, which is resented by many Peruvians who, “…want our ship back!”

We were in Piura to celebrate Brian’s 22nd birthday. He had mid-term exams during the day but we were able to spend evenings with him. He is six months away from receiving his bachelor of business administration degree.  The restaurant Las Canastas was a good place to eat, drink and celebrate.

One of my axioms while traveling in Peru is that there is always something of interest to see if you look for it and that proved to be the case on this visit to Piura. We were walking in a neighborhood we hadn’t been in before when we came across this hotel among a group of large, older homes...mansions really. The street is one block from the Piura River and at one time was obviously a wealthy section of town. Now it is run-down and considered an unsafe area to be in, especially at night. We entered the hotel, were met by the owner, and left an hour later after touring the property and enjoying pleasant conversation.

Cipriano (photo) told us his father came to Peru from Romania as a young man in 1934. He wanted to escape the pre-WWII turmoil in the region, and had heard that Peru was a land where hard work could lead to wealth. He met and fell in love with a Peruvian woman. They married and had five children. The man did well as a farmer and in 1974 was able to purchase the hotel property, which at that time was a private house in need of repair. He added a wing and updated the entire property while trying to preserve it’s charming past.

Cipriano took over the farm when his father bought the hotel, putting to work the bachelor degree in agriculture he received in June 1964 from the University of California. While in the USA Cipriano married a California woman. He didn’t offer any details about the marriage or his life in California and we didn’t ask. In 1980 he sold his farm and took over the hotel. Now at age 77 he spends his days serving his guests and insuring that the property remains in tip-top shape.

Maybe on our next trip to Piura we’ll brave the neighborhood and spend a few nights in Hospedaje Los Cocosinn. We’d like to experience the feel of this grand old building.

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