Piura, Peru: (San Miguel de Piura) Population: I've seen numbers range from 155,000 (the city itself in 2017) to around 450,000 (the entire province). Piura is a small city on the northern Pacific coast of Peru, in the Sechura Desert. Therefore, it sits at only 15 meters elevation on average. The Spanish name of the city, Piura, comes from the indigenous Quechuan word pirhua, which means "abundance". But, now the city is known as "Ciudad del eterno calor" or "The city of eternal heat" because it's hot all year round. I think it should be called "The city of endless sand" because you can't get away from the sand, anywhere.
Piura was the 3rd Spanish city founded in South America. The Spanish conquistador founded Piura in 1532 as the first city in Peru. In the 1860s, the Pima variety of cotton was brought to the farmers and this helped the town develop incrementally. There was much new development and industrialization, especially from incoming foreigners from England, Germany, and Spain. This brought in new tastes and habits which were quickly picked up by the local people, thus blending the many nationalities. The steam pump was soon introduced and that improved farming with better irrigation, they also expanded the local network of canals, all of which led to the cotton being sold on the international market. Further canal development continued with the help of an Ecuadoran family which owned much land in Ecuador and northern Peru. Then in 1912, there was an earthquake that destroyed many of the town's bridges. During the 1930s-1950s the town experienced much growth and rebuilding. More new development and growth occurred in the 1980s even with the disastrous flooding caused by the 1983 El Niño, which caused 6 months of torrential rains. This was repeated in 1997-1998, as well, and this time the floods destroyed two of the city's bridges. They were rebuilt, and now the city has four bridges crossing the river. That wasn't the end of it, though. Again, El Niño hit the city with more flooding in 2017, this time causing major damage to the sanitation systems and the communications systems. Now, the city has two new malls and has seen a lot more new growth.
Piura has a semi-desert climate. The average daytime high of 31° C (88° F), and the night average low of 18° C (64° F). The elevation of the city is 36 meters (118 feet). Piura averages a measly 116 mm (4.5 inches) of rain per year.
So, my impressions: It's a nice enough small city. There are many, many small neighborhood parks, but, very little grass, and lots and lots of sand. In fact, now that I think about it, there was one park that had some parts of grass, and shade trees and those areas had people relaxing and enjoying them. The other parks of all sand were empty except for kids playing soccer. What I don't like about Piura is all the sand. Sand everywhere. This part of the country is simply all sand and there's no getting away from it. For this reason, I won't consider Piura a potential place to live. The heat isn't a problem, but the sand is. I've had enough sand from Pedernales, Ecuador all the way down the coast to Piura. And there's only much more to come in the towns I'll be visiting going south.
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: Moyobamba, Peru.