February 10, 2008

Passing on Piura
Piura, Peru

Roz, a 26-year-old girl from Ireland, whom I met in Vilcabamba, Ecuador, left town a bit early to travel into Peru with me. I make life easy for her. I knew where to eat and stay in Loja, and how to get there. I purchased our bus tickets to Piura, and when she said, "You know, we should've gotten two window seats" the next morning, I replied "oh, but I did."

I'm all business when I get off a bus and push past aggressive taxi drivers, and across busy avenues to get a cab. I know how much to pay, how to get the right price, and what steps to take to keep us as safe as possible. Roz said, "It's obvious that you're very comfortable speaking Spanish." And she's right—the Spanish I know I'm confident with, and the Spanish I don't know, I'm not shy about working to find the words I need.

Roz was by my side as we jumped in and out of several hotels in Piura, each more disappointing than the next. …I'm so depressed by the contrast of a US$5/night room in South America versus SE Asia.

Settling on the Hostal Moon Night, I noted that the shared bathroom was cramped, cold water only, and missing the toilet seat and shower head (just a pipe coming out of the wall).

What is it about Latin America and missing toilet seats? Are they so much of a luxury item or cleaning inconvenience that hotel owners simply don't have them installed? The problem is more widespread than you'd ever imagine.

Boom-Boom room mattress

I actually got a pretty good laugh out of my 'boom-boom room' mattress, which sported the first missionary position rubber sheet I've seen. I've slept in hotels with a rubber sheet between the cloth and mattress on several occasions, but never have I seen such specific placement.

It's obvious that Moon Night is a love hotel first, and traveler refuge second.

The Saturday night street noise pollution pouring into my room throughout the evening and early morning was close to reason enough not to give the city another night, but I finally snapped when I found a used condom floating in the (stopped up/backed up) toilet this morning.

Actually, I was rather happy to see the condom. Sometimes it really bothers me that some of these people even breed at all—it's best they practice prevention.

I've had enough; I don't care what items of interest there is in the area. Piura is simply a sweaty dump in the middle of the desert, packed full of annoying tuk tuk taxis (about the only good thing about this town is that they're banned from the city center). The satellite imagery I pulled off Google Earth of Colán Beach (the popular beach destination from Piura) looks more like a hot, condo-filled shantytown along the highway than a place to relax. And the US$5 upgrade to a room with a private bathroom and television full of porn channels isn't even close motivating.

Roz and I are leaving for different destinations, but both of us are headed in the same direction along the coast—I'm sure I'll be seeing her again. And that's OK, I like the company Irish women. Those that I've met on the road are consistently shrewd and down to earth, and she is no exception.

I'm headed five hours to the south, to a beach town called Pacasmayo. I've pretty much given up all hope on finding a nice beach in Peru, a country with a coast full of trash and fishing ports. I'll just have to settle for a nice patch of gray sand to lie on, and seawater cold enough to knock out your breath.

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