Saturday 8 August

A late start. We want to return to the plaza and see it again without the crowds, and if possible to take a look in the church of St Augustin. Mass is in progress when we arrive. We sit quietly at the back until it is over. Rachel says that they seem a bit less formal than the Catholic churches in Ireland. The church contains another magnificent golden altar and an intricate golden pulpit.

We take a short walk from the plaza to buy a couple of buns for the journey, and then pick up our bags from the hotel and get a taxi to the Emtrafesa bus terminal. It is another clean and orderly terminal and we get tickets for the noon bus to Chiclayo.

The journey is just over three hours through utterly uninspiring desert. We are in row two, which has limited views because there is a screen separating the driver’s cab from the rest of the bus, and the man directly in front of us has his seat fully reclined and the curtain drawn. It is also almost unbelievably hot.

On arrival we have an easy walk from the bus terminal to towards the hotels. Rachel spots one we marked in the book, the Costa del Sol, a four star hotel. There follows a slight communication breakdown – Rachel thinks that since I marked it then I must have especially wanted to stay there, and I presume from Rachel’s lead that she is very keen. Either way, we accept their “special offer” price of S/.198, which is far more than we have paid elsewhere but really not too bad by UK standards, and anyway, we could do with a little bit of luxury.

It is smart inside, we are served a complimentary lemonade on arrival, and English is spoken! It is not without its quirkiness though. Our room is equipped with only one electrical socket, and the “swimming pool” on the rooftop terrace is more like a small paddling pool, but in any case is dry and boarded over in what looks like preparations for a wedding.

We go out just as dusk is falling. The cathedral is very busy. It is a lovely calm neoclassical building with substantial columns and plaster mouldings picked out in white and three subtle shades of green, with ochre and gold highlights. It all looks very newly redecorated.

A service is just beginning with what seems like a confession, so we quietly slip out. As we leave, we see a wedding car pull up. The bride and her father get out and begin walking up the aisle into the service that has already begin. It is a bit different to a traditional UK wedding. We wonder if we will see them again later at our hotel.

The town is very busy, though it has the feeling of a provincial capital that is trying to be more important than it really is, rather than the laid back charm of Trujillo.

We eat dinner in a smart restaurant not far from the hotel, though we realise that if we are to avoid another lucky-dip we will have to nip back to the hotel for the dictionary. Sadly the regional specialities are off the menu, but I end up with chicken, cheese, and ham in a delicious orange sweet and sour sauce, and Rachel has beef in a pepper sauce.

All of this is accompanied by a man on a keyboard with auto-accompaniment playing bad renditions of popular songs, punctuated at regular intervals with over-ingratiating voice-overs. After a couple of karaoke spots though we are glad to have the keyboard man back.

While we are eating we have the curious spectacle of a waiter bringing food out to an unoccupied table. A few moments later another of the staff turns up and begins rearranging the plates with great precision, soon followed by another who produces a small digicam and begins taking photographs. It must be for the new edition of their menu.