Here for Hogmanay staying with Rosemary who is surrounded by her rescued dogs and cats. She immediately made us feel very much at home and we were soon settled in to our comfortable room - with our own private terrace. Colan is a small sleepy village (well, normally anyway) on the coast with a lovely long beach, a perfect setting in which to relax for a few days over New Year.
We'd heard about Colan from niece Gillian who'd gone to stay with Rosemary last July under a Vets Without Borders programme to spay and neuter dogs and cats (of which there are many, too many, in Peru). Rosemary is a one-woman campaigner and organiser for animal welfare in this area and single-handedly runs the Asociacion Humanitaria San Francisco de Asis. A large part of her work is arranging for vets and vet nurses from countries such as Canada and the UK to come to Colan to spay and neuter dogs and cats and provide treatment for them and other animals in the numerous villages in the Colan region. Despite having to run her animal sanctuary on a shoestring and fight a constant battle against local apathy, ignorance and cultural attitudes she does a magnificent job for which she richly deserved and won an award from the Humane Society International in May 2008.
At New Year Colan is a bustling hive of activity and crowded with people and families from nearby Piata and Piura, and from as far away as Lima, who come to celebrate and party and enjoy the beach. As it was noisier than usual with fireworks going off all night and much traffic and revellers, Rosemary decided to stay in with her animals as they were becoming more and more agitated. We therefore set off in a mototaxi to Colan Bay Lodge (a very nice place right on the beach owned by Mario, a friend of Rosemary's) with the intention of seeing the New Year in. Although the Lodge was full the atmosphere was quieter than we'd expected, so after a couple of pisco sours we decided to return and see the New Year in with Rosemary and her dogs and cats. As midnight came and went we watched Colan's fireworks display over the rooftops while we downed a few celebratory drinks. 2008 has certainly been a great year for us.
The next few days were spent soaking up Colan's relaxed atmosphere. We got up late, enjoyed breakfast with Rosemary, lounged about on our terrace, spent some time on the beach, ate ice cream and returned for sundowners and dinner. On New Year's night all three of us went along to Mario's for pina coladas and seafood. Another night we visited one of Rosemary's oldest friends across the road in her 70 year-old beachfront house to watch the sun go down as the waves rolled under the terrace.
On our last day Rosemary took us out across the desert to visit a couple of the smaller outlying villages - a tiny one in the sand dunes and now in the middle of an oil field, and Pueblo Nueve in the heart of a lush fertile oasis. It was really good of Rosemary to show us a bit more of her local area where she carries out her charitable work. By the number of people that acknowledged her it was clear that 'la doctora de los animales' is very well known.
Before we move to Ecuador (our 25th country on this trip - OK we counted Antarctic as a country) we should say that the weather in Colan has been great hot days but with the cool breeze that accompanies the sun and the refreshing nights, it's not a bad place to encamp for a while.
We hope everyone has a verry Happy New Year.
Lots of l,ove
Eric & Margaret xxx