By Scott Thornburn, Professional Travel Writer LIMA, PERU
The world-class breaks at Los Organos, Piura and Lobitos are finally seducing the Yankee short-board set out of California into the crisp Peruvian surf. The morning sun bursts off the rolling Pacific swells and warms the boarders sitting outside the break, waiting for the just-right roller. While Peru may still not be a household name around the North American surfing scene, the classic film, Endless Summer did introduce us to the “perfect waves” of South America’s west coast. The “woodies” may not roll down the Peruvian equivalent of the PCH at sunrise, but like every So Cal beach, the waves of Peru enjoy a spirit of local loyalty and local pride.
A little common courtesy and a smile are about all it takes to get a few tips from the local riders and take on the challenge of these magnificent breakers. Visitors here can become surfing students of street kids, traveling with them north to the world-class breaks of Los Organos, Piura, and Lobitos. This is because a group of innercity kids from some of urban Peru’s toughest neighborhoods are experiencing the wonder, power and beauty of their own coastline by learning to surf through Casa Generacion where they come to escape physical or emotional abuse that runs the gamut from beatings by drug addicted parents to being sold into sex slavery. In most parts of the world surfing is not exactly an urban recreation.
You’re a lot more likely to find city kids in the U.S. kicking-it in a half-court basketball game, or worse, competitive graffiti tagging than stripping on a wetsuit and waxing up six and a half feet of fiberglass. A chance encounter with local surfers near the Casa Generacion summer home in San Bartolo introduced a few of the kids to the surfing life and a phenomenal change took place. Suddenly hardened street kids were riding the waves, connecting with a natural world they had never known. As the purifying salt water washes over them, these street kids are finding in themselves a new capacity for achievement. For example, Yeferson Bellido is competing in surfing competitions, recently ranking fifth in the nation.
This now-champion surfer, who a few years ago was begging on the streets, is in college studying architecture. His tuition is $385 a month, about the price of a wetsuit sold in the United States. While you may not be ready to shoot the tube on the Bonzai Pipeline, who can resist sharing in the pure joy of these kids, finally released from the prison of exploitation and finding their own nature in the natural wonder of the sea. The waves are up, the sun is high, and the kids of Casa Generacion are laughing as they dare you to hit the beach with them. Come on, it’ll be the ride of a lifetime. Llama Expeditions of San Francisco announces that small groups of six to 10 surf aficionados can customize an eight-day surf eco trek along Peru’s Pacific north coast complete with instructors who surf their hearts out showing visitors how they escape their lot as street children through the waves.
The per person (double occupancy) rate of $2,963 is for a group of 8 to 10. A private room is an extra $350. Included are accommodations, airport/hotel transfers, carbon-offsetting for included flights, English-speaking guides, some meals and other transportation that may be required in the itinerary. Optional activities include raft fishing, horseback riding and zip lining. A portion of the tour fees are donated to the Casa Generacion homes for kids to make sure there is a safe haven and an education for the abandoned children of Lima. (www.llamaexpeditions.com/exploration/surf-peru-for-good-trip)