Forget shuttle buses and trains, why not walk to (or from) the airport instead? That is the preferred method of novelist Will Self, who even went as far to include one such stroll – from Los Angeles airport to Hollywood – in his surreal novel-cum-walkalogue Walking to Hollywood.
It is something I’ve experimented with myself here in Trujillo. Well, sort of. In my case, the airport was actually more an obstacle than the final destination itself.
Some weeks ago, you see, I decided that if I was going to have to spend my birthday alone this year – what with my wife being on the other side of the continent in Brazil – I’d do so by going on a long walk to the beach in Huanchaco, a small coastal town nine miles (15km) upcoast from Trujillo. The local airport – an entirely forgettable place if it were not for the charm of its arrivals lounge doubling as a car park – would merely serve as a milepost that, whilst requiring circumnavigation, would at least reassure me that the birthday beer I envisaged having on the beach was almost within reach. Continue Reading
In the months prior to leaving Brazil I’d written about walking and psychogeography as means of finding new ways to see, explore and understand the complexities and unseen beauty of São Paulo. It was fitting then, that during those final few months I became increasingly aware of a stencilled call to arms which seemed to echo my own advocacy for urban exploration:
‘See the city’
In the context of an iconic SP location like Parque Ibirapuera – where I took the photograph above – ‘ver a cidade’ (see the city) seems to convey a fairly straightforward observation: look how beautiful our city is. Continue Reading
Always keen to get my priorities straight, the first thing I sought to discover about Trujillo – once I’d received confirmation of my job here – was the name of the local football team. Fortunately, in São Paulo I had my good friend – and walking encyclopaedia of South American football – Euan Marshall to consult on the matter, and quicker than you can say “R2, fire up the converters,” he informed me that the team you are looking for is Club Deportivo Universidad César Vallejo.
Master Euan then went on to provide an evaluation of César Vallejo’s current squad, although I must admit I lost track when he recited the name of Peruvian goal machine (apparently) Andy Pando. I was distracted, not just because it is unusual to hear of a namesake of mine of South American origin, but because the last thing you expect is to find a Peruvian with kinship links to a puppet from the UK.
Pandy / Pando: separated at birth by a phoneme (and a sky blue stripe).
Upon arriving in Trujillo my next concern, obviously, was to locate Vallejo’s stadium, a problem that was resolved soon enough during my tour of the NGO’s staff house when I spotted the tell-tale sign of floodlights from the terraced roof:
Given the topic of last week’s post I guess it might not be too much of a surprise to discover that I’m often unsure which part of travelling I enjoy the most: the journey itself or the exploration of a new destination that comes at the end of it. Most people, I’m sure, wouldn’t give my conundrum a second thought, but it is one I was reminded of this past week as I escaped the dry heat of Trujillo (‘The City of Eternal Spring’, remember) to head inland and up towards the cooler climes of the Andean foothills.
My destination was Huamachuco, a small city of about 50,000 people that at 3200m (10,000 feet) sits nestled in-between the eastern and western cordillera of the Andes. Although unlikely to be on the to-do lists of many visitors to Peru, the nearby pre-Incan ruins of Marcahuamachuco (known as the “Machu Picchu of the North”), and the fact that it is only a four hour drive from Trujillo, meant that for me it seemed like a relatively a decent spot for a short break.
Leaving midday at Sunday we sped effortlessly out of a traffic-less Trujillo and into the lifeless terrain that surrounds it; the beige scorched earth that dominates the northern coastal regions is congruous with the inland hills, which at first glance resemble rudimentary sandcastles.
Further inland though, the land becomes flushed with health, as barren desert becomes slopes of luscious green upon which terraced farms cling desperately in order to extract every last drop of goodness from the soil.
Andy in the Andes
As a lone traveller armed linguistically with but a mere Spanish phrasebook my anxiety levels were already hovering around substantial, but when our flight was unexpectedly diverted 250 miles west to a city on the coast they bypassed severe and frantically breached critical.
Our arrival, you see, had been impeded by geography: a plateaued city flanked by volcanoes and decorated with fog – a perfect shitstorm of topographic and atmospheric proportions that rendered ineffectual both the weather radar of our plane and the depth of vision of the pilots.
The morning after the night before.
Fortunately, there was scant time to fret further as it was just seven short hours before air traffic control detected the curtain of gloom being drawn long enough for us to be herded aboard and evacuated back to our original destination. Continue Reading