Making the decision to move abroad, leave loved ones behind and start a new life (even if only temporary) can be a daunting thing. You want to make sure you’re choosing the right place, and feel confident in the experience you’ll have when you arrive. At least that’s how I felt when I made the decision to quit my job, move out of my flat and fly halfway around the world to do voluntary work in Huanchaco.
After a 30+ hour plane journey from London that took in the delights of Sao Paulo and Lima along the way, I finally arrived at Trujillo airport – sweaty, tired and more than a little out of place.
Here’s why I’m glad I chose Huanchaco for volunteering in Peru:
1. The infectious warmth of the people
Both the locals and Otra Cosa Network volunteers go out of their way to make you feel right at home – typically locals will greet you with a traditional Peruvian kiss on the cheek.
I’ve only been here 3 days and already a little old Abuelita kindly helped me to find the right change in a bakery (my Spanish is not quite there yet!) and an Austrian yogi welcomed us into her class. It’s hard for the enthusiasm of the OCN volunteers for their projects educating the local community in English and the environment not to rub off.
2. The incredible food
The food here is seriously good value for money. It’s very easy to find an appetizer, main and drink for around 12-15 Soles (that’s around £3/$4). One dish to look out for in particular is ceviche (Peruvian speciality of raw fish marinated in citric juice, chilli and coriander, served with red onion, corn and Peruvian sweet potato) – in almost any restaurant around Huanchaco you can find a fresh plate of the stuff.
The variety and sheer number of places to eat and drink is staggering for a relatively small town. Many are tucked away, as if in someone’s home which lends a really intimate atmosphere. Every wander finds a new place, and there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Like a tiny organic coffee shop in the back of the mercado where the owner brews the coffee over a chat. And the place that sells some of the best Cremolada around – shaved ice with the juice of one of the many exotic Peruvian fruits like Chirimoya (custard apple) or Guayaba (pear crossed with strawberry).
3. The way of life
Yoga on a sunset rooftop, evening beach bonfires and surfing are just a few of the things that sum up the balmy atmosphere and leisurley pace of life here in Huanchaco. As a tourist said to me – “People come here intending to stay just for a few days but end up staying for a month or two”. It’s easy to see why.
Interested in volunteering in Peru for one of OCN’s projects? Take a look at the projects you can get stuck into here.