Huanchaco, Peru and the worst “work” experience of my life

I decided to head straight for Huanchaco on Monday so I could get there by Tuesday night. It was a very long trip. I think Arequipa to Lima was over 12 hours, and then another 8 hours from Lima to Trujillo, and then a half hour taxi to Huanchaco. Every thing seemed good the first night. I quickly realized looks can be deceiving.

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Huanchaco’s curved beaches on the promenade.

I thought I had signed up to mostly help reception and help people set up their new hostel. What they really needed was cleaning help. They put me to work the first day and I spent the next 7-8 hours cleaning. Now, most workaways have people working 4-5 days a week at 5 hours a day. This workaway expected me to work 6-8 hours a day, 6 days a week. This turns what should be a mutual arrangement into a nightmare. I was working harder than I had worked in a long time, for basically no pay, or the equivalent of $1 an hour. I did not realize when I agreed, that I would be a cleaning lady (nothing against, I just was expecting more reception type work).

To make matters worse, the couple who owned the hostel were a bit unorganized . At one point they had too many volunteers and not enough rooms so that people were sleeping on the roof. More than half of the volunteers were friends of the couples which made matters worse, mostly for me. It was the perfect opportunity where they just took advantage of hard workers. It seemed any time I sat down for a break, there would magically be more things to do. I think they were terrified themselves of people taking advantage.

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Huanchaco’s smaller waves are the perfect place to try out a surfboard!

Huanchaco wasn’t all bad though. The one good thing is it is a great place to learn to surf. I found a guy who was willing to rent me a board and wetsuit for 20 soles a day or the equivalent of just shy of $7 dollars. I went out about 4 times and stood up about half. Surfing is so hard and intense. Not sure it is my calling, but I sure enjoy the full body workout that comes with it.

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If there is one thing I learned about Peru, it is that they love to dance!

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One of the last sunsets in Huanchaco & view from where I was staying.

Huanchaco is a fairly sleepy surf town. It is most certainly a town and growing pretty quickly. There are many restaurants, bars and tourists. If you want to learn to surf, it may be one of the best options.

The Peruvian White City & Booking it North

After Puno, my expectations were set a bit lower for Peru. A lot of backpackers head for Cusco after Puno. As I was waiting for my boyfriend to do Cusco, I headed south to Arequipa.

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One of Arequipa’s many white traditional buildings.

Arequipa is also known as the White City due to all of its traditional colonial white buildings built using local white stone from neighboring volcanoes. It is a beautiful city with a lot of activities to partake in outside the city, one of the most famous being Colca Canyon. I’ll be honest, after Bolivia I was a bit tired of tourism. I really just wanted to enjoy the city. I spent most of my time eating and just planning my next moves.

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Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas was my favorite in all of Peru.

My workaway/volunteer that I had planned for April had fallen through. As such, I immediately looked for an alternative for the month I had left. I wanted to stay some place where I could learn to surf so with that as my parameters, I searched.

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Lovely architecture to discover around Arequipa’s many corners.

Something popped up (well two somethings) and my hope was restored. My next two weeks would be spent in Huanchaco, Peru just outside of Trujillo followed by Lobitos, Peru, both little surf towns. Little did I know, I was about to have the worst workaway experience yet.