LIMA, Peru – As most Lima residents prepare to sleep, a handful of hardcore surfers descend on the only beach in Peru where they can ride the waves at night.
The South American country has decked out La Pampilla beach next to the well-heeled capital district of Miraflores with four 1,000-watt lights like those used in soccer stadiums. Placed high above the beach, their light reaches about 200 meters (250 yards) out to the water, providing enough illumination to surf after nightfall.
"There are few places in the world I can do this, and ride the waves at night," said Ignacio Gonzalo, a 26-year-old Spaniard who hits the beach after getting off work at an advertising agency.
Jorge Jara, a 40-year-old Peruvian and daytime surf instructor, says surfing at night is like "slipping into a football stadium."
Pampilla beach does not attract sharks, unlike some beaches in the United States and Australia. The greatest danger faced by night surfers might be crashing into one another, blinded by the powerful lights. The beach attracts fewer than two dozen surfers a night, and so far there have been no reported accidents.
La Pampilla is the second beach in Latin America set up for night surfing. The Brazilian beach of Arpoador, one of the biggest surf landmarks in Rio de Janeiro, has had artificial lights since 1989.
Night surfing apparently came about in Lima because of a dispute with the capital municipality that in 2015 increased the width of a road that runs along the coast. The surfers protested the construction for months by camping on the asphalted beach area, but in the end the municipality prevailed, with support from the police.
At the end of 2016, perhaps to win over the surfers, Lima's mayor set up the beach lights.
Gonzalo, the Spanish surfer, believes that with the passage of time, the ocean will undo some of the road expansion, with the salty water eating away at the asphalt. The city may be able to light up the ocean at night, but can't control it.
"You cannot compete with mother nature," he said.
Associated Press journalists Franklin Briceno and Mauricio Munoz contributed to this report.