Western Peru is Incredibly Depressing
The western half of Peru is nothing but desert—not a pretty, Grand Canyonesque desert, but an ugly, post-nuclear holocaust wasteland, where practically nothing grows (except the sweeping expanses of garbage).
Every city looks exactly the same: Incomplete or crumbling buildings; dirty roads lined with chipped chunks of concrete and trash; faded building exteriors; and streets fill with packs of stray dogs, demolition derby-ready vehicles, and an excessive amount of small Chinese restaurants.
Most any beach with a town attached to it is probably a fishing port. I don't have anything against rural fishing villages—I've enjoyed many—but Peru's coastal cities are industrial ports, where boats or waste runoff have turned the year-round frigid water a lovely shade of brown.
The Peruvian desert always pushes right up against the ocean, and typically the only relief one can find between land temperatures (encroaching on the surface of the sun) and the body and spirit numbing ocean water is a nice, soggy patch of grey sand to lay on for a moment or two.
The truth is that western Peru pretty much resembles what most Americans envision the worst part of Mexico looking like, repeated over and over and over again.
As a society, I know that Peruvians are capable of much better than this, but the mañana attitude is particularly potent in this country. No taxes need be paid on incomplete buildings, so many stay that way. Family takes a strong priority over living environment, and is a cultural sentiment only perpetuated by the degrading surroundings that families live in.
I truly look forward to the day that the population centers and landfills of western Peru disappear beneath the sand.
Enough is Enough
I think the best Valentine's Day gift that I can give my girlfriend this year is to jump on a bus to Lima, look at the dead landscape for nine hours, and check the two of us into a (love) hotel for five or six hours.
I'm on the first transport out of Huanchaco/Trujillo in the morning.