Nearly a year ago, I left on what became arguably one of the wildest and most magical adventures of my life. In the search of exploring far off lands and stranger tides, I boarded a plane to South America, landing in Lima, Peru.
From that moment, life as I knew it would never be the same again.
You may be thinking – you’re ONLY writing this blog post now? The truth is, I tried so many times after I got back from Peru and each time, I’d get way too emotional. The memories still raw and so special. My head still spinning and my heart still overflowing.
It took getting ready to return this February, looking through photos, watching the videos, and of course, booking this year’s flights and travel to make me realize – I was ready to share the magic that was all things Peru.
Starting with, the beginning of my journey – Huanchaco, Peru – where I had the most incredible time with one of my dream clients, Unleash Surf.
I spent nearly two amazing weeks with Amy, John, and fellow Unleashers and trust me when I say, there are hundreds of photos I could share and stories I could tell BUT because I can’t share it all, here are some of the highlights from my Unleash experience and time in Huanchaco.
THE TOWN ITSELF
We all know how much I love a beach town and Huanchaco is exactly that. From its fishing pier to its surfing waves to its colorful streets with a mural fit for Instagram around every corner – I fell in LOVE with this town, its people and its charm.
One of the amazing perks of taking part in Unleash is getting your own apartment in the middle of everything. You’re minutes away from incredible restaurants, the co-working space you get to work from every day, and of course – the beach! Everything is walkable and exploring a new street or route to my destination each day was a daily treat!
THE ANIMALS OF HUANCHACO
If you followed me on Instagram last year, you likely remember me flailing over local Peruvian hairless dog Doris. She is my FAVE and I’m so excited to see her again next month!
But it wasn’t just Doris that stole my heart. There are so many precious dogs, cats, and even vultures (hey – vultures are cute too) hanging around the streets of Huanchaco that I fell in love with.
THE MARKET IN TRUJILLO
One of my favorite day trips was definitely to the large market in Trujillo, the city where Huanchaco is found. From the delicious treats, fresh smoothies, BEAUTIFUL rows of fresh flowers and more vegetables and fruits than I think I’ve ever seen in my life – they have a BANANA ALLEY, you guys! – this market was so fun!
And let’s just take a moment to recognize the moment I met these two magical creatures and cried. A LOT. The monkey’s name is Julio Iglesias!
Trust me when I say – you haven’t lived until you have tried emoliente. Minutes after getting off the plane in Huanchaco, Amy and John were giving me a brief tour of the town and when we stumbled upon Victor, an emoliente maker, Amy insisted I give this traditional Peruvian medicinal drink a try.
Emoliente is served hot, is made on the spot and it is DELICIOUS. You kind of feel as though you’re drinking maple syrup, but the ingredients actually include roasted barley grains, extracts of medicinal herbs, sugar and lemon juice. Some of the notable herbs include cat’s claw, horsetail and you can add fresh aloe vera for extra wellness properties.
BUILDING CABILLATOS DE TOTORA
You may be wondering, what the heck is a caballito. Well, it’s actually a completely sustainable, small fishing boat made of reeds that locals surf and paddle out to sea to fish. And it is said that surfing originated on the caballito de totora! Crazy, right?
We travelled out to the reed fields to learn how to cut the reeds from their watery beds before we returned to town, learned how to make our own, and hit the waves on them!
We also got to meet some fishermen returning from the sea with a fantastic haul of fresh fish!
ALL THE CEVICHE
Speaking of fish – growing up in Atlantic Canada and on the ocean, I’ve had some pretty fan-freaking-tastic seafood in my life but oh em gee! The seafood and fresh fish in Peru are out of this world. And best of all? Their ceviche! There are so many more ceviche photos where this came from and I can’t wait to return to some of the best ceviche spots!
MEETING A PRE-INCA MUMMY
I was wildly obsessed with Indiana Jones as a child, so spending my weekends in Peru exploring ancient archaeological sites and getting to meet pre-Inca mummies was a strong HELL YES.
El Brujo Archaeological Complex is a short day trip north of Huanchaco and is home of the Lady of Cao, a Moche Civilization (pre-Inca) mummy discovered recently in 2006. Evidence at the burial site suggests that she was a high ranking priestess or ruler, which is extra cool as it was previously believed that only men could rule in the Moche culture.
The coolest part? You get to meet Lady of Cao – through a glass wall and with the use of mirrors to preserve the mummy. Photos are not permitted, but trust me when I say – everyone should meet a mummy at some point in their life.
OK, I couldn’t possibly travel to Peru to hang out with a bunch of surfers without giving surfing a try, now could I? I gave it a try twice: the first time was AMAZING, I stood up on the board several times, surfed a few waves, and happily cried. The second time, my legs were jello and my body was saying “No, No, No.”
Either way – the memory from that first day on the waves? I’ll be giddy about it for years to come.
SUNSETS IN HUANCHACO
I chase sunsets, not sunrises. I love sleep too much. And Huanchaco delivers with magical, hazy, orange Pacific sunsets that are dreamlike. This particular sunset was snapped from the Unleash Co-Working Space.
VISITING CHAN CHAN
Chan Chan is an archaeological site west of Trujillo, Peru and it was SO cool. Another example of the amazing day trips Unleash has planned for you, getting to walk around Chan Chan was quite the experience. It’s believed that Chan Chan was constructed around 850 AD and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just call me Crystal the Archeologist.
Of the list of activities, I was able to sign-up for during my trip, sandboarding was high at the top of the list. And it did not disappoint. The best part about sandboarding was getting to go out to this magical mirage-like desert location with the largest sand dunes I’ve ever seen.
BEACH TOWNS FOR LIFE
Lastly, one of my favorite parts about my time in Huanchaco was getting to live in a beach town on the Pacific ocean for two weeks. Walking past the beach on the way to work at the co-working space, always being able to catch the sunset, strolling the pier. All of it was absolutely perfect and gave me so many opportunities to do some deep thinking and soul searching throughout the day.
Needless to say, you can consider Huanchaco, Peru 👉🏻 Mermaid Approved.
Oceanloads of thanks to Amy and John from Unleash Surf for being dream clients and inviting me to step out of so many comfort zones and experience the trip of a lifetime last year. I cannot wait to go back in February!
Want to learn more about Unleash Surf and how YOU TOO can live in a beach town, surf, sandboard, cuddle monkeys and Peruvian dogs, AND get your work done or run your company?
Visit www.unleashsurf.com and tell them the Mermaid sent you ❤️