Hanging (ten) in Huanchaco

Ok, I just looked up the actual meaning of hanging ten – apparently you have to be such a rad dude, yo, that you can catch the wave on the back of your surf board and then walk yourself to the front of the board hanging all ten toes over the front. We didn’t quite manage that, but we did (spoiler alert!) manage to stand up and ride a few waves this very afternoon.

Let’s back-peddle for a moment.  Last I wrote we were enamoured with Arequipa and ready to set down roots.  Well, although we may return there in the future, it was time to leave as we had a special visitor (my friend Sam) coming to meet us in Lima.  Great sulking was had by all as we had to pack our belongings back into our bags, say a reluctant good bye to some great friends and get ourselves on the bus to Lima.

Plaza De Armas, Lima

I know I mentioned this before, but Lima really is grey and horrible.  We tried our best this time and even took a taxi into the centre to see the old quarter.  The Plaza de Armas is actually pretty impressive but the minute you step outside this manicured square you’re once again checking your valuables are still where they should be.

So, as soon as Sam had moderately recovered from her Jet Lag we hopped on the overnight bus to Trujillo.  This time we tried Oltursa and, I gotta say, it’s no Cruz del Sur.  No tables and no vegetarian option!

As soon as we arrived in Trujillo we knew we’d made the right decision not to stay there but to take a taxi out to a nearby little beach town Huanchaco.  During the summer this sleeping little fishing town fills with surfers but at this time of year it still feels a little dozy.  It only drags itself grudgingly to a semi-conscious state around midday, at which point, multiple ex-pat run restaurants open their doors and offer French toast, Belgian waffles and chocolate milkshakes.  At about the same time, the sun finally finds the energy to burn through the clouds, glinting beautiful off the sea as the famous waves roll in.

Traditional fishing boats, Huanchaco

We couldn’t come to this little town without giving surfing at least one try.  I did try surfing once back in Hawaii in a very unstructured ‘lesson’ which consisted mostly of sunbathing.  This time we wanted actual instruction which we were happy to find came with a money back guarantee – ‘Stand up on your first lesson or you don’t pay!’  This is what we needed: A teacher who believed so completely in their ability to teach that they’d even get us upright and riding the waves.

We chose to go with Muchik Surf School, the oldest and most established school in Huanchaco.  Our instructor ‘Chicho’ has been teaching for 25 years and surfing for nearly 30.  He looks and acts every bit the laid back surfer and as such his teaching style is excellent.  He likes to explain what to do, why we do it and what happens if you don’t. Simple, but gives you ample information to truly understand what is being asked of you.  We first spent 30 minutes in the classroom to discover our style (we’re all goofy) and how to get up to standing on the board.  Next we learnt how to stay standing in the eventuality that we’d actually make it up there.  From there, it was right out into the sea.

The classroom section of the lesson

My biggest worry had been that I’d get cold.  It is winter here after all and the sea was a chilly 15 degrees (C).  But, after getting zipped into a full length wetsuit, adding a branded rash vest and some sexy booties we waded into the water with just a little shiver.  We warmed up quickly as we started to swim and manoeuvre our massive long boards out to the little beginner waves.  Chicho was there with us, ready to give us a push when the waves came in.  I managed to stand up pretty quickly and I think my ex-gymnast balance helped me to stay on the board.  I did fall a few times and the rocky bottom made a very definite impression, encouraging me not to come off again.  It was a great laugh and Alan and I enjoyed ourselves so much that we’ve signed up for a second lesson tomorrow.  Apparently this time we learn how to get ourselves paddling onto the wave and when to jump up.  From there we should be ready to go out into the world alone to surf whenever we please.

Just another reason we have to live by the sea.

Muchick Surf School, Huanchaco

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