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  • Writer's pictureAnnika Nygren

Peruvian Quirks

Updated: Apr 9, 2022

Current Location: Olón, Ecuador

Blog Location: Puerto Chicama, Peru

Also known as Puerto Malabrigo. Also known for the world’s longest left hand wave. Also known as, “la ola más grande del mundo.” Also, a place that now holds a special place in my heart.

Hey Hey! It’s been a while… Here are the Sparknotes:

I left the Canaries back in December to have a quick stop and re-pack of my backpack in the US. I contracted COVID the day I landed, quarantined in Boulder over Christmas, had a short-but-sweet stopover at home in Maine to see my family, then hopped on a plane to Peru at the beginning of January! I spent the month of January completing my 300hr Yoga Teacher Training with Indra Yoga Institute in the Sacred Valley outside of Cusco. I am still digesting this course and am at a loss for words for how to describe its beauty and transformation.

After my training, a group of us hiked the 4 day Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu (... nothing short of amazing, a powerful pilgrimage), had one night of “yoga teachers gone wild” on a hostel dance floor, went back to the Sacred Valley to meet fellow Global Works leader James in his hometown of Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, then made the trek to the Northern coast of Peru.

After training, trekking, and moving around, I had craved some grounding and routine. During this year (maybe more!) of travel, I have been using Workaway and YogaTrade to find work-exchanges. In exchange for 20ish hours a week, I am given room and board. This is a GREAT way to extend travel as my only costs then become the flights at the beginning and end of the trip, travel in between locations, any food (read: desserts and smoothies) or activities (aka surf lessons/ rentals and San Pedro medicine hikes) I want to do outside of the exchange. Annnnnd some consumerism at the Peruvian markets. So many patterned textile bags, so little time.

I wrapped up February with a Workaway work-exchange at a little surf camp in Puerto Chicama, Peru. To set the scene… Puerto Chicama is RUSTIC. Not a single place takes credit cards and the closest ATM is 20 minutes away in another town. The best part? Oftentimes, that ATM is out of cash, so then you have to (*get to) travel another 20 minutes to the next pueblo to get your cash.

This work trade was unique as the owner/host was not currently there. He was at his family’s farm (“finca,” or as I learned, “chakra”) and I was there alone except for the day I arrived. Day one, he showed me the ropes before he left and I wanted to share the instructions and bits of advice from the tour of his town that just made me GIGGLE.

As promised, the Peruvian Quirks:

“See that unmarked, half- opened window? That’s where you buy fresh bread!

See right:

We went to the “locals” (aka no blonde people) market and he wanted me to know that, “the guy in the back corner with fruits and veggies… he also sells bleach. Go to him if you run out.”

“If a guest loses their key, you have to take a colectivo (shared taxi) to this town 20 minutes away and ask around for the man who makes copies of the key… they will send you to the right place.”

Me: “… who are ‘they ’??”

“When you hear a truck honk 3 times several times in a row… that means it is trash day. Bring the trash to the street quickly!”

“Once you fill the box of recycling you are going to look for a woman on the street. She usually has a big cloth bag and a lazy eye. Wave for her to come to the house, she will take your bottles and recycle them.”

One night, me and my sweet travel-wife Amelie wanted to enjoy some red wine together. We asked her hotel manager where to buy some in town and no joke the directions were more or less as followed:

  1. Walk to the corner, take a right

  2. Go to the next street, take a left

  3. Walk down a bit until you find the market on your left but it will be closed, there you take a right

  4. Look for a man selling some bread on the corner

  5. Once you find him, take a left and walk up the street

  6. Once you see a bunch a dogs you are close by

  7. Ask some people to take you to the wine store

  8. If he isn’t there, his brother has a different store, they will take you there

  9. At the second unmarked door you will find the wine!

..... but we did it! Picture for proof.

These are the moments of travel I ADORE. And the best part to me is that more often than not, it all just works. It’s not what I am used to, it’s not always comfortable, but my gosh do I laugh and smile.


Unfortunately, I went down for the count for the greater part of a week with my fourth round of what I thought was food poisoning but turned out to be a bacterial infection. These bouts of illness have made me feel like the most immature, lonely, sad version of myself. They have taken me from joy and gratitude to feeling the urgency to give up on my dream to travel and just go home. However, it is in these moments I have learned about abundance, the kindness in humanity, and accepting all forms of help. As I lay in my bed for the fourth day in a row, my surf instructor who I met once was checked on me and brought me gatorade. His girlfriend shared her natural supplements with me. The guests at the hotel nearby gifted me activated charcoal for my stomach. The woman who ran a small café around the corner heard about my condition through the grapevine and made me fresh manzanilla (chamomile) tea to ease my stomach. My sweet Amelie brought me bread and beautiful company.

It’s incredible to me that even when I am far away from home and community, I am held and taken care of. I am learning to trust. I am so, so lucky.

Alrighty - there are so many things I want to share, but I know attention-spans are at a premium right now so I will sign off. I am committing to more frequent writing after my training… I have re-framed the term “self-discpline” (aka Tapas in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras) into “self-devotion” or “self-dedication.” More to come…

Ciao y hasta pronto!

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