My Inca Trail Porter : My Heroe & My Friend

Everybody is excited when planning a trip to Peru and specially if they are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

All the information is about the places to visit and how to avoid altitude sickness or soroche. Porters are never mentioned and they are the kings of the trail.

Last week, some clients  met Fortunato, a 54-year old porter. He was one of 8 porters and 2 chefs that carried all the gear on their backs during the 4 days they walked in the Inca trail until reaching Machu PIcchu, in this opportunity, for the 3 persons  family.

I quote Mrs Derrick´s words “They are the heroes! They literally run up and down the trail at a wicked pace most of them with sandals or Converse tennis shoes WITH up to 13.5 pounds .”

Well, if you think they carry only this….. you dont know that those 13.5 pund is only the clients belongings. You need to add 5 to 6 pounds for the sleeping bags ….. and dont forget they also help carrying the the crew belonging and the camping gear(consisting of tents,  toilet, kitchen provisions, stove, chairs, etc – as NOTHING is left behind at the camp site – not even trash as there are no trash cans). In total they carry 50 to 55 pounds maximum on their backs – This is regulated by the government and monitored on the trail so as not to overload the porters .

While you enjoy the walk some are running to get  the spot for lunch and others continue their way to campsite so set up tents so that when you arrive you have you tent ready to be used.

We reccommend to  “spend time with your porters.  They have some amazing stories to tell.”   The ideal is to at least know how to thank them for the amazing job they do in their native language as you will not have to much time to interact as they are running ahead of you.

Try and learn a few words of Quechua – see glossary below
Hello = Rimaykullaykil
Hi = Napaykullayki
Good day = Allin p’unchay
Goodbye = Tupananchis-kama
Bye = Ratukama
Yes = Arí
No = Manan
Please = Allichu
Thank you = Sulpayki
You’re welcome = Imamanta
Excuse me = Dispinsayuway
Sorry = Pampachayuway

You will love their smile when they realize you are speaking their language to thank them for their work.

Treat them with respect. They are noy just working, they are making the  “ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE” happen!!!!

© Carmen Maria GUEVARA PROTZEL
Photo by Marci Derrick

Discover Cabo Blanco, Piura, Mancora and its surroundings

Last week article Seduced by Cabo Blanco was about Hemingway and his experience at Cabo Blanco.

Today I will share with you some information on how to reach Cabo Blanco,, Piura and Mancora 

How to get to Mancora

You can only get directly to Mancora and/or beaches nearby by road, through the Northern Pan-American Highway. Several bus companies from Lima, Tumbes, Piura, Guayaquil (Ecuador) and other cities of Peru  get to Mancora. As well as taxis and other transport services from airports near Mancora.

There are various routes to get to Mancora. The fastest way to get to Mancora and/or nearby beaches is to take a flight (of approximately two hours) from Lima, capital city of Peru, 1165 km south of Mancora, to the city of Piura.

From there to reach Mancora and/or nearby beaches, take some land transport  like rental vehicle, private taxi, shared minivan, interprovincial bus ;trip lasts between two and three hours approx.

Lan Airlines and Taca Airlines currently offers daily flights from Lima to Piura

Once you arrive in Piura, there are various ways to reach Mancora.  These are:

  • Rented vehicles
  • Private Taxi
  • Shared Van or minivan
  • Interprovincial bus

Car rental:
There are car rental services in Piura . Just ask for the service ahead of time.

Private taxi:
Direct service from the Piura airport to the resort you will stay in the city. Prices vary according to the service. We recommend consulting with us and not hire a street service.

Shared Van or minivan:
Directly from the airport, these van or minivans have capacity for approximately 8 passengers. We recommend consulting with us and not hire a street service.

Buses :
The second and most recommended (and economic) option to get to Mancora from Lima or another city in Peru is taking a direct bus to Mancora or nearby beaches.
There are bus companies that offer a very good service and although from Lima it is a long journey (1165 km, 16 hrs on bus), it is not as terrible as it sounds; if you choose correctly the bus company and its different services. This option is the most used by tourists from Lima.

The General characteristics of the best Lima – Máncora bus routes are:

  • They depart from quiet residential districts, (ABC1) in Lima, such as the neighborhood of San Isidro.
  • They take 16 hrs approximately. Usually buses depart in the afternoon from Lima, arriving in the early morning of the following day in Mancora.
  • Do not make stops along the way, except for the switching of drivers.
  • Two floor buses, where the first floor is usually Executive class (with more spacious and wide reclining seats) and the second floor is Economy class with good reclining seats (some are semi bed (reclines up to 145°).
  • They include in their services on board dinner and breakfast.
  • Air conditioning system, two bathrooms, TV with DVD.
  • The price of this service is between US $ 50.00 to US $ 70.00 *, for one way tickets.
  • Some buses offer Wi-Fi (wireless Internet for laptops and notebooks) for a big part of the journey.

* Reference prices. Bus companies usually raise their prices in high season; dates close to 28 July (Peruvian independence festivities) New Year, local festivities and long weekends.

 Economic buses:
There are buses Lima – Mancora, some of which stop at many places along the highway. The journey takes much more time than the above mentioned buses. Some of these buses leave from the popular “Fiori” bus station in Lima.

From other cities in Peru:
From the rest of Peru (Trujillo, Chiclayo, Chimbote, Tarapoto, etc.), it would be more appropriate to take a bus to Piura (or Tumbes) and from that point take any direct service to Mancora or nearby beaches. If you come from Cusco or cities south of Lima (coast, mountains or jungle), you must first get to Lima and depending on the arrival time you can catch an afternoon bus or spend a night in Lima

I can not end this blog without telling you that Inkaterra has already recovered “Mrs Texas”, the famous boat and now is at La Punta, Callao waiting to return to Cabo Blanco Fishing Club by the end of 2016 for the 2017 Summer Season that they are planning to have ready the hotel and opened to public.

© Carmen Maria GUEVARA PROTZEL
Photos by Roberto Carlos CASTRO

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

The Reason I Became a #Peru Travel Advisor

Where Do I Begin?

#Peru is a country blessed with so many wonders and one of the is  : archaeological sites that yet are to be studied and are also natural habitats for more that 1800 species of birds which means 1/5 of the World´s birds species …. And more if you consider that I am just talking about birds as an example.

Paulo Coelho saysIf you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.And I can say a good way to avoid routine is to travel to #Peru.

We are a destination for persons with a variety of interests :

1-    Culture
2-    Nature
3-    Archaeology
4-    History
5-    Bird watching
6-    Adventure
7-    …….

And I could keep going on……. Think about your main interest and I bet I can find a place for you to visit in #Peru.

I recall, while still being at high school one of my first speeches was about a city in #Peru (it had to be a place besides the classical places we already know – so forget #Cusco, #Machu-Picchu, #Puno, #Ica, #Arequipa , #Lima, etc).

I was so lucky to have a little more knowledge in #Peru than my school friends as my father used to be a civil engineer and  I helped him translating and typing the reports he had to hand out after he finished  his work in different areas of the country.

I remember as it was yesterday. I spoke about #Tingo Maria and the Sleeping Beauty a mountain that indeed has the shape of a woman sleeping…. And I had the picture of it so WOW I got a good grade.

Time passed by and I began to type more reports for my father and spend time with my grandfathet, who has retired from work and had time to spend with us.  He was so careful with details when telling me the stories about his adventures while working as sales agent for a flour products factory that I could easily picture him in each place he described to me. He traveled almost all over the country and then I began to know more about #Peru, falling in love with my country.

When I was only 15 years, and I was still in high school I began to read more about #Peru and discovered the amazing places that tourist never go because the lack of information we provide to our Embassies abroad and I decided I was going to make travelers come to #Peru and visit non usual places besides the classic ones.

Now with over 30 years working in tourism I am happy that finally government has heard the Call to Action to study and promote more destinations #Peru has to offer.

In these 30 years of work I have had the pleasure to meet awesome clients and work with filming crews.

Between the filming crews I had the pleasure to meet is Celine Cousteau, who was in the process of re-making Jacques Cousteau expedition Return to the Amazon. When I first met her, “my brains were somewhere else” and did not realize who she was. I thought it was just another filming crew who wanted to work with us. Only when she began to explain their project and played the trailer of the documentary I realized who I was talking to. You should have seen my face as I love sea, It also brought to my present joyfully memories of the times I watched the program in “black and white TV” along with my parents. Also, I met her father Jean-Michel Cousteau a great person. It has been so far, the most exciting part of working with filming crews.

Jawaharal Nehru said “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. “  I can say that you also need to open your heat so that you can feel  the beauty in each step you make. The most enjoyable part of travelling is to be part of the change while visiting a new place and learning about their culture. Everyone has a special effect in the persons that surrounds and they have also the same effect in you.

For the past 8 years a friend who is a Peruvian archaeologist and lives in Boston brings students to make a difference. Year by year they travel to remote areas in #Chachapoyas, Amazonas region to do social work. So far they have built a school, a library, an even medical assistance place for the communities that live too far from what we call “civilization”.

I am still amazed how some children can make a difference just by bringing the pencils they found in the floor of their school during a whole year…. and then the next year collecting all the “loose change” at their homes.

The other side of the coin, is that in our rush to built civilization within natural habitats for endangered species we are destroying nature.

In the process to stop deforestation Peru Verde works hard with the communities in doing their share to stop it. They do some habitat protection, sustainable development and wildlife monitoring. The children of the surrounding communities learn to protect and make sustainable use of the area they live in.

As part of their work,  Peru Verde staff practices ecotourism in the surrounding areas of the lodges in Madre de Dios Jungle : #Manu and #Tambopata  Areas.

Now, the communities that live in the surrounding areas have learned to protect animals and trees. No tress are cut and hunting is not allowed in the areas protected by Peru Verde.  And for the past 14 years I am working at the Travel Agency that brings the tourists to these areas among many other areas in the country.

© Carmen Maria GUEVARA PROTZEL

Photos by Roberto Carlos CASTRO