The Journal  

16 January 2006


Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Trujillo , Peru

January 7-8

We woke at sunrise in Mancora for a quick trip to the beach before we headed out. When we got to the ocean we found the surfers had already beaten us there, a bobbing group of a dozen already testing the waters in anticipation of the first perfect wave of the morning. We also tested the waters, finding strong waves that would dash you into the sharp, volcanic rock that lined the ocean shelf and a riptide that tugged a swimmer north with every pounding of the surf.


We woke early the next morning to hit the beach and see where surfers stop to catch some big waves.


Surfers got up early Saturday morning to start the day off right.


Even though he appears to have just washed up on the beach, this mastiff was taking a good roll in the sand to scratch an itch.

An hour south of Mancora, the road bypassed Piura , the first major Peruvian town along the Pan-American, and heads into the Sechura Desert , the scrub trees and sandy soil quickly turning into rolling dunes devoid of any life. The theme from Lawrence of Arabia played in my head as we rode forward on a ruler-straight road. For the next hundred miles the sandy landscape was broken only by the occasional plywood or tar paper shack, the desolation surrounding the hovels making us wonder how anyone could survive in such an environment. Heat mirages made for a false oasis horizon that we seemed to be continually chasing without ever getting nearer. I was just beginning to be lulled into a bored riding apathy when the wind started to blow.


We pulled over to admire the view where the desert meets the Pacific Ocean off the coast of northern Peru.


The dirt hills faded away to the Sechura Desert where we rode for hours on straight stretches of road.

With nothing to slow the breezes coming off the ocean, a strong western wind cut across the highway. I counter steered hard into the gale, the bike leaning into the wind to maintain its straight line. The sand began to blow across the road, swirling in patterns like the first flakes of a dry snow, and pelting us with a fine grit that snuck into our helmets and around the edges of our gloves. But the dryness of the desert made the air surprisingly cool as we cruised at 70 miles per hour.

A few spotty trees appearing, along with stagnant green pools of alkaline water, signaled the desert's end as we neared Chiclayo . Beyond the town the sandy landscape was punctuated by the occasional village that lined the Pan-American until we reached our stop for the night, Trujillo , a town founded by conquistadors in the 16th century.


Locals use donkeys to haul sticks, rocks or themselves along the road.

Little of the town's colonial past was visible as we wandered through its streets that were clogged with afternoon traffic. When we stopped to ask two motorcycle cops for directions to our hostel, they offered to lead us there and we followed their well-worn 250 Nighthawk through a maze of streets to our lodging. It was after dark when we headed out to search for a dinner restaurant, the streets packed with a Saturday night crowd.



All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus