Three busses, combining for a total of 24 hours travel time, later we were in Lobitos, Peru. A tiny surf village outside of the city of Talara with nothing but beach, surf shops and a few tiendas and restaurants.
Talara is a fairly busy hub with an oil refinery and dozens of onshore and offshore wells scattered across the area, so we were welcomed by the familiar sight of pump jacks and pipelines. Albeit these ones looked like they were on the verge of falling apart with the next strong wind gust. Oh how I have not missed any of these things.
Originally we had wanted to volunteer at our hostel but they didn’t have any openings when we first contacted them so we only planned on staying for a few days before visiting the coastal towns in Ecuador that we missed on our first pass through. Then those days passed and we were still lazing around Lobitos. Our laziness paid off, a few volunteers at the hostel left and following a 2 minute chat with the manager, we were new members of the crew for the next 12 days.
An hour or two of cleaning each day and a shift behind the bar earned us our room and lunch each day, and the opportunity to chill in the most laid back place we’ve found so far. Not bad in my opinion. And despite what my mother says, I do indeed know how to clean a bathroom, make a bed and wash the odd dish. Certainly helps that the standards down here are a little different, especially considering there isn’t running water.
The hostel itself was a cool old mansion perched high up on a hill above the beach, with several surf breaks right out front. Apparently back during WWII the U.S. decided they needed an air base down here (because why wouldn’t they? Plus there’s oil here so….) so most of the buildings were once military housing and this was the General’s house.
Somehow the time flew by, which was amazing considering how very little we did. We ran the beach in the mornings and did yoga in the afternoons in order to justify crushing entire bags of plantain chips with a few beers for happy hour. I surfed a few days but other than that good chunks of each day were spent lounging around, usually watching the clock awaiting the daily visits from the fruit and the bread man. As I mentioned there are next to no amenities in Lobitos so each day a truck or scooter would arrive to sell fresh fruit, bread and pastries. We quickly became hooked on one baked good in particular called budin. We eat them sans guilt until we learned that budin is Peruvian bread pudding. Call me ignorant but I had no clue what bread pudding actually was until I looked it up. Basically it’s a deliciously sweet loaf made out of sugar, milk, butter, caramelized sugar, a whole wack of eggs and entire loaf of bread. Seriously who comes up with this stuff?
Nights that we weren’t stuck working the “bar” (opening beers and selling individual cigarettes) we sat around the campfire with other travellers and volunteers. Enjoying cheap rum and having every type of conversation you could imagine from an Ecuadorean’s run through of all the times he has been mugged and kidnapped (it was more than zero which is enough in my books), to a master yoga instructor’s explanation of why fire is the most important of the four elements (hotly contested by everyone who can’t put their legs behind their head), to the most stereotypical backpacker discussions ever. You know the ones I’m talking about #changedperspective #blessed #wanderlust #metthebestpeopleever #kshutitalreadyyou’reannoying
With the lack of snow, cold weather, decorations and basically all things Christmas it is hard to comprehend that it is mid December but my Timex doesn’t lie, which means we are off to Ecuador to rendezvous with my family for a trip to the Galápagos Islands. We could not be more excited that they decided to make the trip down so we can all spend Christmas together. One more full 24 hours of bus time and we will be back to where we started this adventure almost three months ago. Happy holidays to all!