Seduced by Cabo Blanco in Northern #Peru

Being an avid reader is one of my hobbies among many others I have.

I have been lucky to come across some books that Hemingway wrote.

(1929) A Farewell to Arms
(1937) To Have and Have Not
(1940) For Whom the Bell Tolls
(1970) Islands in the Stream
(1986) The Garden of Eden

But I have not yet read all the others……

(1926) The Torrents of Spring
(1926) The Sun Also Rises
(1950) Across the River and into the Trees
(1952) The Old Man and the Sea
(1999) True at First Light

Suddenly, while reading some of the cover pages of the books yet to read   I realized one of them was about the time he spent in Cuba but when they made the movie they choose Cabo Blanco, #Peru, (Mithical beach: Sea and waves stories) (1952) The Old Man and the Sea,

Well, then I began to read some more about the place that seduced Hemingway and  about the fishing possibilities of its Black Marlin and the Blue Fin Tuna Fish.

Located on the 1137 km of the North Pan-American Highway is just 30 kms south from Mancora, Cabo Blanco is a fishing village in northwestern #Peru, 3 km northwest from El Alto, Talara, Piura. It was famous in the past among big-game fishermen and today is a noted surf break. The village takes its name from the light colors of the nearby mountains.

Cabo Blanco was a private Fishing Club for a reduced group of Millionaires interested in one thing only: the ‘granders’ or 1000 pound marlin which congregated in so-called Marlin Boulevard only a few miles off the Cabo at the spot where the cold Humboldt Current meets the warm Ecuadorian Current.

The Cabo Blanco Fishing Club, was a small luxurious and modernistic establishment (only 10 rooms) for members and their guests. It was built on land leased from the Lobitos Oil Company.

At that time it was hard to get there. After a 10 hours flight from Miami with several stops you needed to spend around 3 hours by a bone-rattling drive from Talara.

In the 1952 season an astounding 17 granders were landed by a handful of fishermen, including the (still-standing) 1560 lb world record fish caught by Texan oilman, and true Cabo Blanco pioneer, Alfred Glassell.

In the 1950s , the fishing possibility at Cabo Blanco was unlike anything ever seen before or since: in any other place. Not only the fishwere bigger, but they were closer to the shore and they could be found easily, and caught without the need for trolling.

Cabo Blanco at the time (1956) had a special charm, but this  was not the reason that people was attracted to this spot. Everyone who came here was because of the marlin (and some huge bluefin tuna). It was also the relaxing place for the Hollywood A-listers, such as Marilyn Monroe, Lucía Bosé, Joe di Maggio, Gregory Peck, Paul Newman, Cantinflas, James Stewart, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Rockefeller and the famous Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway was not a member of the club, but in April 1956 he only visited Cabo Blanco once, for 32 days. He came to work (part of the film version of “The Old Man and the Sea” was shot in Cabo Blanco.

He made himself spare time to fishblack marlin, swordfish, turbot, tuna and sailfish every day of his stay. He caught several huge fish but never a granders: his largest weighed in at 910 lbs. He also squezzed time to spend at the Bar club to enjoy drinking the best Bloody Marys he had ever tasted. He also enjoyed whisky, Pisco and Cabo Blanco Rum.

Besides thelife-long love affair with Cuba, Hemingway found in Cabo Blanco was also a “little affair” for him, He considered that Cabo Blanco was a lovely part of the world.

In 1979, Peruvian surfer Gordo Barreda discovered “the wave” when he visited the village to check the surf in the area. The wave is a hollow powerful left and is reckoned the “Peruvian Pipeline”, referring to the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. Swell from Hawaii does in fact go on to reach Peru; in the 1990s the best way to get a surf forecast was to phone Hawaii and whatever swell they had would arrive about 5 days later.

The wave breaks over sand and rock, with the sand building up through summer and being washed away progressively by winter swells. The wave inspires a kind of fanaticism among surfers. Although there are only about 20 locals, crowds of surfers are drawn to the wave from Lima (700 kilometres south), and from around the world. With modern swell forecasts and the internet, it’s easy to know when swell is on the way, and the surfers once there all pack into a single tight takeoff zone, despite other waves elsewhere in the area.

It demands a certain level of experience so as not to end up crashed on the rocks. This wave is joined by another, at the southern end of the beach, whose name says it all: Panic Point. catalogued as “for experts only”. Waves forecast or Swell forecast and surf reports

Other activities are WindSurf, KiteSurf and Diving.

The encounter of two ocean currents, Humboldt and El Niño, occurs in front of Cabo Blanco. This factor turned it into a legendary sport fishing paradise. However, this blessing from nature has brought in the last years fishing practices that have devastated the sea. Now drastic measures are required to avoid worse damages against sea life.

The Peruvian president has signed a decree which greatly reduces the annual anchovies quota and bans commercial marlin fishing. The decree encourages catch and release marlin fishing, and initial signs are good that the big fish are returning.

Looking at what is left of this amazing place you can not imagine that this took place not so long ago.

Cabo Blanco became a legend since Ernest Hemingway’s visit. After almost 60 years, it goes in search of lost in time charm.

Nothing last forever a due several reasons  the big marlin had gone and the celebrities stopped coming and the club closed its doors ( a kind of Gatsby’s parties that stopped once he died) therefore you will need to stay either at Piura city or in a close by Beach Resort in Mancora.

© Carmen Maria GUEVARA PROTZEL

Look for next week part 2 …Discover Cabo Blanco, Piura, Mancora  and its surroundings