I had an excellent sleep last night, thank goodness, and felt a lot better this morning. Breakfast was a bit of a strange affair, it being self service of a sort and nobody talking to each other. One chap was looking at his phone and a couple were talking amongst themselves. However, once we’d realised that we all spoke English after the chap’s wife appeared, conversation flowed. New people arrived off one of the night buses and it became quite crowded around the table.
Afterwards, I decided I couldn’t be bothered to rush and spent the morning catching up on my diary. As I was 3 days behind, this took some time.
When I finally ventured onto the streets, I was pleasantly surprised by how empty and quiet they were. Of course it was Sunday and most businesses were closed, but there was very little traffic, few car horns, and amazingly no tuk tuks. How can the previous two towns have had so many and there be none here?
I strolled along the street housing many restaurants and into the Plaza de Armas, which was stunning. It is a huge square with the usual statue in the middle surrounded by seats and gardens but there were not a lot of big, shady trees so it seemed very open and spacious. All around the perimeter were the most beautiful, brightly painted Colonial houses. I walked the circumference and stopped at the Cathedral where a mass was being held. I listened for a while and then decided to come back later. Unfortunately, as I discovered, the church is only open for 1 hour a day when Mass isn’t being held, but which hour that might be, who knows?
As I was starving, I went in search of lunch. This proved marginally problematic as so many places were closed but I decided on one that had a slightly more expensive set menu, table cloths on the tables and some very smartly attired waiters. I then spent the next hour enjoying my food, beer and coffee whilst watching the people stroll past from my table by the door and feeling very content.
When I could prolong the experience no more, I took to the streets again and found I was just in time to catch the 3pm City Sightseeing tour. This took us up and down the streets in the historic centre before venturing a little further afield. It lasted an hour and was a good way to get a view of the city without having to walk for miles.
The next hour was spent sitting in the plaza watching the people go by. The numbers had increased, along with the vendors of various foodstuffs, bubble machines and assorted toys. A group of girls was practising a dance routine right in front of me. It wasn’t clear who they were or for what purpose they were doing it but they seemed to have a collection of friends supporting them and some filming was taking place. There was a lot of laughter and giggling so it was fun to watch them.
The police were also quite amusing. It is obviously prohibited to sit on the grass or certain parts of the central statue and it was their job to control it. However, rather than come over to the people violating the rules, they would just stand at the edge of the square and gesture, whilst blowing their whistles. Sometimes they were obeyed and sometimes not but they didn’t seem to care! I think sometimes they actually just blew their whistles because they could and they liked to exercise their authority.
Whilst I was sitting there, a couple approached and said ‘hello’. They obviously recognised me, as I did them, but couldn’t think where from and had to ask. They were a Romanian couple that were on the bus when we crossed the border. I had quite a chat to them and they gave me some tips on what to visit in the south of Peru, where they had been a couple of years ago. They had rented a car and felt the same way as I did about Chiclayo and they had actually driven in that chaos!
When the sun eventually went behind a cloud, I decided to make a move and headed to the supermarket where I bumped into the Romanians once again. After purchasing the essential supplies, which included a bottle of Peruvian wine, I returned to my room and spent the evening on the internet, researching Huaraz, as well as reading my newly purchased Lonely Planet e book on Peru. I find, though, that it is a considerable pain to try and go backwards and forwards between the pages and it would have been much easier, if weightier, with a physical book. My itinerary, now that I have actually done some research, is likely to change. I wasn’t intending to go to Huaraz at all as it seemed to be a serious trekking centre and not much else. However, it has been mentioned to me more than once now, so I have decided to go.
As my room here is less than salubrious, I want somewhere nice to stay next time, so a lot of time was spent looking and agonising this evening! I eventually put the light out well after 11pm.