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Viva Caballito!

Fisherman on caballito
Caballitos at Huanchaco, Peru
Fishermen at Huanchaco, Peru
Fisherman at Huanchaco, Peru
Huanchaco, Peru

In the view of most Peruvian wave riders, including 1965 world champion Felipe Pomar, surf history's revised prologue begins in the coastal salt marshes west of Trujillo, among the tall chlorophyll-green stalks of Schoenoplectus californicus—California bulrush to English-speakers, totora to Peruvians. The caballito reed boat was probably invented around 3000 bc, as tiny coastal enclaves of northern Peru coalesced into larger, more complex villages and communities. Traders used the caballito t...

The caballito remains the fisherman’s craft of choice. The locals at Huanchaco now paddle out wearing bright polyester soccer jerseys and surf trunks, but the scene is often shrouded in a kind of grayish prehistoric gloom.