Christmas in Puerto Inca
Our time spent getting from the Northern Hemisphere down to the Equator and into the Southern Hemisphere has been full of warm weather.
Thanksgiving was spent in Ecuador wearing shorts and tank tops during the day and a light jacket in the evenings. It has truly been an endless Summer since we made it to Colombia back in July. As the end of November approached, the Christmas decorations emerged. We’d be strolling along, borderline sweating from the strength of the sun, spot a Christmas tree and think “Wait, what? Oh wait, that’s right. It’s almost December.” If there are Christmas decorations around, it usually means cold weather for us. We never quite got used to the combination of the heat and Christmas trees so it’d surprise us for a moment each time.
Summertime is approaching in the Southern Hemisphere and being in coastal Peru kept making us forget that Christmas was right around the corner. Instead of sledding and building snowmen, children were playing in the waves and building sand castles. It certainly didn’t feel like the holiday we were used to and we absolutely loved it. What better way to spend our first South American Christmas than in Peru…in swimsuits…on a quiet beach?
Puerto Inca was an absolutely magical place to spend a few days wild camping with zero cell service. It’s a beautiful, clean cove beach with Inca ruins in the hills and gorgeous sunsets. The hotel next to the beach offers camping at palapas for a price, not including use of toilets and showers. If you have no need for use of facilities, you can take the dirt road diversion to a nice spot right on the beach for free. Locals showed up during the day and it generally cleared out by late afternoon. There were no other campers there for the first few (glorious) days. The couple of times that we left this spot was to do some shopping and run errands at the market in the town of Chala, which was about 20 mins away. One night, we decided to do some exploring and see if we could find an even more isolated beach spot. We found plenty of offshoots from the main road but none were as pretty and clean as Puerto Inca. We camped on a different beach for a night with the mission of tracking down some fresh, whole fish at the local market in the morning.
Chala was a good place to run errands, do shopping and restock on supplies to avoid having to leave the beach for a while. The market was bustling with people doing their Christmas dinner shopping and to our luck, we found whole fish, andean pumpkin, ladies selling homemade ajis and a few other goodies to cook our own dinner. Success! We hurried back to Puerto Inca to set up camp, got a bit stuck in the sand and then got unstuck after airing down. Some seemingly solid rock spots on the sand were not so rock solid, as we soon found out. A fellow British overlander who had arrived while we were gone took in the free entertainment before coming over to say hello. After a couple of hours worth of conversation, Christmas dinner preparation started. Peter joined our new British friend for drinks and a fire and Shruthi got some alone time in the kitchen. By nightfall, an Andean pumpkin soup and dark chocolate/dulce de leche/sea salt tart were made and rosemary potatoes were chopped and prepped. Mason jars of cold brew were ready for the morning. The goal was to do absolutely nothing on Christmas Day except enjoying the beach, relaxing and eating a wonderful meal.
On Christmas morning, we sat on the beach, took in the view and chatted over sips of cold brew. We lazed around, got a warm solar shower and made pisco sours to relax us further while we finished cooking dinner. Just as the parchment wrapped fish came out of the cast iron skillet, a couple of German overlanders joined in on the party. They had been traveling for a total of three years after they sold everything they owned back home. The original plan was to make it to Alaska and they were having so much fun that they hadn’t even left South America yet. Pretty soon we all found ourselves gathered around the table and sharing stories about our adventures late into the night.