Talara, Peru: Population: around 125,000. Talara is a small city on the nothern Pacific coast of Peru. Therefore, it sits at only 15 meters elevation on average. The town sits mostly at or near beach level and is surrounded by brown desert cliffs, on top of which is a military base and the main road out to the PanAmericana Highway. Talara is an oil town. They have a refinery and the landscape outside the city is dotted with oil well pumps and many pipes snake their way across the dusty desert. And, when I say dusty desert, it's not an understatement. This is the northern region of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth (further south). Here it does rain, but very rarely. Out in the desert there is no vegetation of any kind, the only trees, bushes and other plants start to appear near the beach and in towns where people have planted them. In 1916, the oil field workers went on strike, and it ended up being a violent strike with four people dead. Finally, the strike ended and the workers got everything they demanded.
Talara has a subtropical desert climate. The average daytime high of 29° C (83° F), and the night average low of 21° C (69° F). The elevation of the city is 15 meters (49 feet). Talara averages a measly 73 mm (2.9 inches) of rain per year, with some years having zero rain recorded.
So, my impressions: The city center has an interesting design. If you look at the streets in a map you'll see an area that has streets that outline a fish, and just below that a square with rounded corners. The main business district is in the streets that join those two areas. Being a desert beach town it is sandy and dusty, and there's no getting away from the sand or dirt. The town has a pedestrian-only street through the center of town, and many other in those two before-mentioned areas. There are many small parks and plazas spread throughout. It's a decent enough small city, but it can't be easy keeping one's home clean of all the dust, dirt, and sand.
This is my goal: to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 towns, that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 30 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but, getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least, here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
At this point in my journey I have two towns on my top-20 list - Catamayo and Puyo, Ecuador. In my travels in Ecuador, I visited 31 towns/cities.
Next up: Sullana, Peru.