Travel in Peru is highly centered on public transportation. The people here travel mostly by automobile, whether its a bus, a micro, a taxi, or a collectivo. It is much more common to take a bus out of the city for the weekend rather hop in your own personalized SUV.
This past Friday, I made my way up the coast to the quaint beach town of Pacasmayo, Peru. This city sits just two hours north of Trujillo and is a great town to sit and relax on the beach.
The trip up the Panamerican highway was very similar to a ride on the collectivo from Huanchaco. The minivan, I am told, is the fastest most comfortable way to get there. It is more agile than the larger greyhound bus. The Minivan (meeneeVAHng) holds sixteen passengers and will leave the bus station when the van is full.
Do not expect the van to leave on any schedule. When asking various taxistas and friends, I was told to go to a Ovolo Mansiche, or the Mansiche roundabout, where I can easily find the bus which leaves every 30 minutes or so. Expect to wait. I arrived, boarded the bus at 9:15. The bus did not leave until 10:22, I kid you not, I made a mental note. The minivan must have at least 4 to 6 passengers before it can leave, otherwise the driver will lose profit. To my dismay, there are not many people who chose to travel early Friday morning, so I had no choice but to wait.
As we left the city, we rode through what seemed like miles of Caña or Stalks of Cane sugar, one of Trujillo`s main resources. The fields are much greener and taller than corn or cotton fields like those that I am used to traveling through. We rode atop bridges which passed over flood planes who wore the recent tare of erosion. Each house we passed along the boarder of the Cane fields had been destroyed by the rains just a few months ago. Outside of these homes you would find white tents which have been provided as shelter for these families by the national government.
Upon passing the cane fields, I realized how much of a dessert climate Trujillo is. We rode through endless dunes – dunes for miles. The farther into the dessert, the more the bus would swerve around sand which had been blown atop the two lane highway.
Every thirty minutes or so we would pass through a small town such as Paijan. The city bustle of these smaller towns adorn the Panamericana with small family restaurants, car repair shops, and food carts. As we passed these cities, passengers were dropped off at their choosing, and if there was room, others were added to the minivan.
Upon reaching Pacasmayo, the landscape once again became suddenly green, only this time with Rice fields. Pacasmayo is the central producer of Cement and Rice, two of the most used products in Peru.
Once arrived, the driver had caught on that I was interested in seeing the Peruvian countryside, he offered to take me 20 minutes north to Cruces. Not being able to read his intentions of the ‘kind gesture’ I politely declined the offer and asked that he take me to the bus station so that I could gain my bearings of where I would need to be to catch the bus home at sunset.
In short, public transportation here is super efficient. So long as you practice patience, the world of Peru is at your fingertips. Aprovecho!