Our arrival in Mexico City marks the end of the fourth leg of our trans-America journey. After eight months it is time again to take a break from the road and head back to Europe, to catch up with family and friends, see what surprises the postman has left, enjoy the latest episode of Homeland and 24, soak in a steaming-hot bath, sink a pint or two of Black Sheep down at the pub and move about our home without constantly knocking into each other. Whilst we’ve only covered 18,000 kilometres in the last eight months, we’ve come a long way. Back in February we returned from Europe to northern Peru, where we’d left our car on the beach beneath a tree, depositing it in the capable (though somewhat frantic) hands of Leon, the owner of the Casa Grillo campsite. To be honest I was never quite sure whether the whole of the car would still be there when we returned. Though I needn’t have worried. The only things missing when we got back were a few more of Leon’s teeth. Continue reading “MEXICO: A PAUSE FOR THOUGHT”



Vultures at dawn.
Vultures at dawn.

The clients are so chilled at the Casa Grillo Tres Puntas Eco-hostel that I’m sure the vultures think they’re dead. Why else do they hang around here? Often spotted loitering on the gnarled tree roots lining the beach, I can only assume they are watching for a pulse. Which set me thinking: perhaps the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism might consider an image of these birds as a new rating system for their tourist facilities. Why not just do away with a star system altogether and have vultures instead? For example, a Five Vultures rating might indicate to the prospective holidaymaker that his chosen property offers nothing less than a near-comatose experience. Perfect, you might say, for that over-stressed executive. At the other end of the scale, a property with a One Vulture rating might provide a little more activity, maybe including such diversions as a game of darts, or a donkey ride, or perhaps even a self-service bar to waddle back and forth to. As I swing back and forth in my hammock here, half an eye on these scraggy necked creatures eyeing me from the beach, I can certainly attest to the fact that Casa Grillo would be right up there in the vulture ratings.

Leon's Gaudi-esque handiwork.
Leon’s Gaudi-esque handiwork. This is the walkway from the beach to the restaurant.

Leon, the owner of Casa Grillo, is originally from Barcelona. That he is a little eccentric is without doubt. He absolutely loves to construct things: if a hammer is striking a nail you can be sure Leon is on the end of it, the rim of his big straw hat fluttering with every blow. In between the cabanas, the thatched sun shades and the seaside bar that Leon has built, a second passion is revealed: a collection of the curious and the downright bizarre. But it’s all part of the charm of this place. Here’s a few examples:

Beach Art Exhibit no. 1: "Driftwood"
Beach Art Exhibit no. 1: “Driftwood”
Beach Art Exhibit no 2: "Driftwood with hair"
Beach Art Exhibit no 2: “Driftwood with hair”
Beach Art Exhibit no 3: "Slothfulness" (I thought this might be a client who'd died of inactivity, but in fact I think it was a small cow)
Beach Art Exhibit no 3: “The Nirvana principle” (From a distance I thought this might be a client who’d died of inactivity, his hammock having long since rotted away beneath him, but in fact I think it was once a small cow)
A Peruvian hairless dog. Leon keeps some 30 of these dogs on the property,though only a few are allowed to roam free at any one time. They are a breed said to date back to pre-Inca times.
A Peruvian hairless dog relaxing in the shade. Leon has collected some 30 of these dogs on the property,though only a few are allowed to roam free at any one time, thankfully. They are a breed said to date back to pre-Inca times.
At Casa Grillo even the donkeys take it easy
At Casa Grillo even the collection of donkeys struggle to stay awake.

We’ve just returned from three months in Europe, a land of snow and rain, a place where the only sure means of transport seems to be a boat. Coming back to northern Peru, where there is a drought and the temperature is in the 30s, is quite a shock to the system. In our absence the car has been parked amongst the trees and, whilst we had every faith in Leon taking care of it, it’s always a relief to find the wheels are attached to the axles, the windows are still keeping the birds and the spiders out and the door needs a key to open it. Even reinstating the vehicle’s temporary import documentation has been relatively painless, requiring only two trips to the customs post at the Peru/Ecuador border, which has also been quite a relief, considering the heat. For overlanders needing a place to leave their wheels in northern Peru I can recommend Casa Grillo. And the customs at the border were most helpful should you need to suspend your documentation.

Ready for the road again......almost!
Ready for the road again……almost!