From mid-December through early March, thousands of sweaty Arequipeños escape the dry summer heat each weekend and go to the beach. On Saturday, Sergio and I decided to see what the beach fever is all about.
Two towns are fairly popular, and each a three-hour (and $3) bus ride through rocky desert from Arequipa: Camaná and Mollendo.
We went to Mollendo because it's not on the Panamerican highway and therefore possibly less crowded. But it's near Matarani, the port town where the Peru-Brasil interstate highway (still in progress) ends, and should be a pretty busy place in a few years.
Mollendo is a charming colonial town very alive with bars, restaurants, hotels and concerts in the summer, and silent in the off-season. We found a hotel for $17--the high season price.
The beaches were very crowded, even though students returned to school last week. On a tip from a friend, we first went to Catarindo cove, pictured here.
After the sun went down, we explored the market streets and checked out the beachside restaurants. This bar, "El Mar De Copas," attracted me, mainly because of the early 20th century building, so I tried a Chilcano de Pisco (pisco, lime, sugar, cane syrup and soda) there.
We found this sign for tsunami evacuations. Luckily, Mollendo hasn't suffered any recent tsunamis, but many properties in neighboring Camaná were damaged by a tsunami following Arequipa's 2001 earthquake.
On Sunday, we got up early to get some privacy along the beach.
But even at 7:30, the place was pretty crowded. This crazy old mansion that looks over the area caught my eye.
In the afternoon, we took a taxi down to Mejia, the more elite resort area:
Trip highlight? Transportation:
Returning from Catarindo to Mollendo, we rode in the back of a truck along with an ice cream cart and its vendor. Then, our taxi driver to Mejía stopped the car in the middle of a long stretch of highway to take a 10-minute phone call. On the way back, squished between farmers and beach vendors in the combi, the middle-aged woman taking our fares made inappropriate (but hilarious) comments to everyone. We had fun.