Walking the Plank on a Deserted Beach

Trip Start Oct 08, 2007
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Trip End Mar 26, 2008


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Flag of Peru  ,
Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Puerto Eten is a really cool beach about an hour south of Chiclayo.  Well, all of coastal Peru is like a big giant beach that you can see from the Pan-American Highway, but this beach was particularly cool.  we took a Combi to get there from Chiclayo, and it kind of dropped us off in the middle of nowhere.  Where we were let off, all you could see for miles and miles was a weird abandoned bright pink building, and a church.  Why there was a church on the beach, and from where it got its congregation, I have no idea.  There was no one in sight for as far as I could see.  But churches abound in South America, even on deserted beaches I guess. 
The shore looked like it was fairly close, and there was a path that led us there from where we were dropped off.  The landscape was so flat that we literally walked for an hour without feeling like we had gone anywhere at all, because the whole time we were walking through similar liking dunes of sand and small desert-esq shrubbery.  The sand dunes were small, about my height, but they went on forever to the north and to the south, and they only ended when the pacific ocean came and took them away.
We walked for about an hour south towards Puerto Eten, the closer we got, the more evidence of life we saw.  There were lots of little kids playing on the beach, and a few older people were sat down in the sand just relaxing.
The highlight of the beach day was the pier at Puerto Eten.  The pier was the center of focus for all the beach activities, with lots of people crowded around watching the goings on.  It was a gigantic pier, at least 20 feet wide, and I have no idea how long.  The pier was extremely unsafe, and terrifyingly thrilling to walk along.  The planks were set as far apart as they were wide, such that one wrong step would land you face down on the decaying wood.  I walked down the pier taking the teeniest of baby steps, absolutely terrified that i was going to fall.  Then I saw one guy running down the same path that i was taking, and another person was riding his bike on the Pier, and i felt like a real idiot for walking so slowly and with such timidity.  I think I must have looked kinds funny to the pier experts. 
About halfway through the dock there was a little office-type area that had been set up so that all of the fishing expeditions could be organized.  The office was no more than a shanty with a few loose wooden planks as walls and a ramshackle tin roof, but there were at least 20 people crowded around buckets of fresh fish, taking excitedly.  Of course, all conversations slowed when the gringos passed, traipsing on the planks like they were walking a tightrope.  You could tell they didn't get too many tourists in these parts.
A little bit past the shanty-office a big portion of the dock was completely missing.  But that didn't stop anyone from going across to the other end, oh no.  In the middle of the two broken ends of the dock someone had fashioned a new bridge, made only out of thick wire cables.  Well, to get to the end of the dock, which the fishermen needed to do to get the good fish, they needed to walk, with all of their gear on their backs, over the tightrope to get to the other side.  After experiencing such difficulty just walking on the part of the dock that wasn't broken, it was really amazing to see these experts maneuver across the ropes at lightning speeds carrying pounds and pounds of fresh fish on their backs.
After all that, I was craving a fish dinner, so we went to town to try to find one, but it was one of those towns with only bodega and no other commerce with which to provide the local shanty dwellers, so we settled for bread from a lady toting around a basket.
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