Huacho, Perú


San Bartolomé de Guachu, now known as Huacho, Perú was founded in 1571 under the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo of Spain. It started as a 'reduction' - "a grouping into settlement of indigenous people for the purpose of evangelization and assimilation" according to the Dicionario de la Lengua Espanola. The town has a population of around 92,000 and sits on the coast. The beach is just a matter of a few minutes walk from the center of the central business district.

When the Spanish arrived, de Toledo started rounding up the indigenous people and grouping them into the aforementioned reductions. Such locations were common throughout South America at that time with the biggest and best known being the work of the Jesuits in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. Here in Perú, many of these reductions eventually became towns and cities. One of the reductions de Toledo set up was San Bartolomé de Guachu, it was initially set up as a fishing and trading port. In 1774, under Viceroy José Antonio de Mendoza the reduction was given the status as a town and renamed Huacho. They then built the town plaza. In 1821, the town was elevated to a district, then elevated again, in 1866, Huacho became the capital of the department (province). In 1874, the district was elevated to the level of 'city'. In 1892, the town started a tram service where the tram cars were pulled by horses or mules. In 1920, this service was electrified, and was the second such tram service in Perú

A few kilometers south of the city is an archeological site called Banderria. This site dates back to 4000BC. The city was discovered by accident when the water from the irrigation district almost flooded it. Banderria is said to be older even that Caral, and these two and several other ancient sites in this region of Perú are said to be the cradle of civilization for the Americas. It was discovered in 1973, and was investigated by archeologists until 1977. It wasn't until 2005 that work continued on the site. They discovered that one part of the site was domestic occupation, or residential, but that area was heavily damaged by the water from the irrigation district. The other part of the site includes monumental archetecture buried over the years, which people thought were simply hills. In 2007, radio-carbon dating was done on the site and placed the city to 3200BC.

The climate is a desert climate. The average daytime high is 25° C (76° F) and the average nightly low is 17° C (63° F). Supe gets 212mm (8.3 inches) of rain per year. Humidity ranges from 75%-78% year-round.

Huacho is a typical small city with noisy, smelly traffic, a few parks, some of the downtown streets have garbage cans but most don't, and a few of the downtown streets have benches, but again, most don't. There is nothing special here other than the beach, though for enjoying the water you might be better walking up (north) along the beach to get away from the area where the boats are moored. The town has modern fairly large 2-story mall and a home-center store, but now that I think about it, I didn't see any specific grocery supermarkets. But then, I only walked around the downtown area, so there could be some in the suburbs. Is this a town to put on your to-visit-in-Perú list? No.