I feel like the three nights I spent at La Casina in Lobitos could hardly have been more different from everywhere I’ve been, everything I’ve done so far. It’s really difficult to describe what it was like there, how the atmosphere was. La Casona itself was beautiful: a wooden surf shack opening right onto the beach, complete with hammocks, wooden lounge and swinging chairs, and sofas on the terrace. It was very basic, of course – no running water (the shower was actually a watering can with a rope attached to tip it with) and frequent power cuts, but that kind of fitted with the general feel of the place.
So there was sun, sea and sand, and generally speaking that’s enough to make anyone happy. However I have to say, it took me a while to settle in – which is unusual; thus far I’ve been able to assimilate within an hour or so of getting to a place.
It’s not that the people there weren’t nice, they were – there was a hilarious dreadlocked Finnish couple, a lovely Colombian guy who made jewellery, and a Dutch-Indonesian healer, if that gives you some idea of the people who volunteer there. I felt like I should have fitted in better purely because people in general just fascinate me, and this lot were definitely varied.
I struggled a lot with the sheer amount of free time I had – as it turns out (I never would have realised this before) I’m not the sort of person who very much likes to sit around and relax for long periods of time. I can do a couple of hours at a time but then I have to do something productive or active – and there wasn’t that much scope for that. There’s only so many times you can get in and out of the water, especially with the knowledge that if I spent more than about 10 minutes in the sun I would be guaranteed to go an attractive shade of pink.
Lobitos itself is often referred to as a ghost town with good reason – there’s pretty much nothing there except surf shacks, houses and sand – there wasn’t even an ATM. And it’s hot, something which I particularly felt when I arrived in my Ecuador-orientated travelling outfit comprised largely of black items.
My general feeling of discomfort when I arrived wasn’t much improved by the fact that that night it rained the most that it had in 2 years, so the road to Talara was flooded and couldn’t be crossed, which put paid to my plans to go and get some more money out and buy some flipflops (a crucial item there); and then the electric cut out along with the already intermittent wifi – it did feel a bit like the world was conspiring against my enjoyment of this place. (I did manage to get to Talara the day after though, and successfully purchase flipflops, but it was downright unpleasant – sticky and sweaty and sandy, ick).
But – and this is a big but (heh) – I actually ended up having a very good time there.
As I’ve mentioned, I was supposed to be volunteering there, but due to the intermittent Internet and the like, they hadn’t been able to let me know that they don’t have space to volunteer, only dorm spaces. What ended up happening is that they let me have a reduced room rate (10 soles, about £2.50) and I ate my meals with the volunteers – so essentially free food too. It was as close to free as you could conceivably get, that’s for sure.
Iniaki, the owner who spoke only Spanish, was an all round hilarious guy – hard to describe in what way considering I rarely understood what he was on about, but he was a laugh, and really laid back – all he ever wore we’re swimming trunks.
I did try out surfing on the spare surfboard once, which was not a great success – every time I try I think “how hard can it be?” And every time I give up I think “how is it so hard?” In fairness I think that my main issues on this particular occasion were bikini-related: it’s hard to catch any waves when you’re so busy concentrating on stopping your top riding up and your bottoms rising down; but if you feel like that’s just a lame excuse then fair enough, I may have found something that I am an unmitigated disaster at. However I will try again in Huanchaco, provided I can rent a wetsuit and get some kind of lesson.
The last night of my stay was definitely the best; the power had gone again so we were all sitting round in the dark in our own little conversations, when Iniaki decided it was time for a little ‘musica’ and so handed me the guitar. I don’t know how he knew I could play, but he did, so (under duress, I might add) I rattled out a couple of Beatles songs before passing the guitar on, and was secretly very pleased at the warm reception I got. The night ended on a fairly drunk Peruvian guy from Lima trotting out several Bob Marley classics (surprisingly well considering he was struggling to stay upright when standing), and it was a great way to finish; I felt genuinely sad at having to leave the next day
But of course I packed and woke up bright and early to catch the sweaty combi van to Talara once more, before a quick hop to Piura and then on to Chiclayo, just a stopping point before I decide on where to go next. Hopefully somewhere more green and less dry, if at all possible .
Will keep updating when I can (apologies for the lapse before, the last post didn’t publish or some reason so I’ve sort of published two at once, oops!) and let you know how I’m getting on.