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Mancora

Written on: Sunday October 14th, 2007

A journal entry from: Kevin and Julie's RTW

Location: Mancora, Peru

Author: Julie 

Hola! 

We couldn?t wait to get out of Piura. There was a strange vibe to this place and we weren?t sure what it was. We met up with Slade and Kristen and hailed a taxi to our bus transportation company. Unlike Ecuador, where multiple companies all sell tickets at one main bus station, in Peru each bus company has its own office and departure point. You have to figure out which companies goes to where, from where, and at what time. Somehow it seems to work even though to us it is complete chaos. At the ticket counter we found out we had missed the 12:15 bus and the next one was leaving 2 hours later to Mancora. We stepped outside to confer on what we wanted to do when we were approached by a man with a car. He ran his own collective service to Mancora and wanted to know if we wanted to get in with him. We negotiated the price to S./90  for the 4 of us, only a few more dollars than the bus.  We followed him to an old 1970 american muscle car. This thing was a boat, we were going to be riding in style! We loaded all our packs in the huge trunk and got in. With the windows down, the wind blowing through the car, we drove out to the Pan-American highway, direction north to the Peruvian surf town of Mancora. The drive was great! We watched as the desert with its occasional scrub brush, rocky beige terrain, and far off mountains would pass us by. As we got closer to the ocean, oil pumps appeared, with one every once in while slowly pumping up and down, quietly.  I felt like we were driving down old highway 66 in the US, with rock music blaring, the wind blowing in our faces, cruisin? down the road. We made it in 2 hours, an hour less than the bus would have been, another bonus for the car.   

We got dropped off at the start of the main drag. It seemed to be the same as all the other surf towns we had visited. Bars, restaurants, and internet cafes were lined up. People walking on the side in board shorts, itty bitty skirts and bikinis, and flips flops. We sat down at a café to regroup and plan our next step: find a cheap hotel and hit the beach as quickly as possible. The hotels listed in the guidebook were all in the expensive price range of S./90 a night. We had just paid S./30 for our room the night before so this was a bit of a change for us. We ate a good meal, had a few drinks and hitched our packs back on our backs. We walked up the main street till we found a side street to take us to the beach. We passed by one place that looked a little rundown and on to the beach. It was a beautiful beach, with a strong wind, and lots of kiteboarders jetting across the waves. We visited a few other places but they were either full or too expensive for our blood, so we returned to the shabby looking place to inquire about availability. They had rooms available for S./30 a night, now that?s a good price. Our room wasn?t great, it had a far off view of the ocean, was above the restaurant, looked like it was in desperate need of a paint job, the screens were ripped and patched with plastic bags, and the bathroom was grungy, but we took it. For the price we were paying, we couldn?t expect a 5 star resort. Its advantage was that it was just a few steps from the beach, had a pool, ping pong tables, and on-site restaurant/bar. We dropped our bags and quickly hit the beach for the remaining couple of hours of sun. That evening, we ate at the restaurant and crashed early after being hung-over all day from the previous day?s drinking. 

The next day, we rented a table and parasol and spent the day soaking up the sun. It is very warm here but there is a constant wind blowing off the ocean so you tend to stay cool. We definitely got some color but were smart enough to apply our sunscreen being so close to the equator. All day we watched as surfers, kiteboarders rode the waves, dogs walked by or stopped to spend a few hours with us, ice cream vendors drove their little carts, young women sold jewellery, and few people sold appetizers and sweets. Kevin stopped one girl who was walking by with a large basket and asked to see what she was selling. She had 4 kinds of stuffed pizza-pocket style breads. We all ordered one and almost died from how good they were. Slade and I had the ham and cheese, Kevin had the onion and olive and Kristen tried the tomato and basil, each for the price of S./3.50. We told her to pass by later in the afternoon since we were sure we would want more. 

In the early morning the tide is out and a great break forms to the left of the beach. Dozens of surfers, including really young kids are out there working the waves. Then as the day wears on the tide comes in, the winds pick up and it?s the turn of the kiteboarders to suit up and hit the water. It was my first time seeing this newly emerging sport and I was really impressed. I would have loved to try it but you need to take a 3-day certification course at a cost of 360$. It was too expensive for me and we didn?t have enough time to complete the course. It would have to be for another time, but it is definitely something that interests me. We watched a young girl of about 11 years of age, walk down the beach with her kite aloft, being pulled up to the tip of her toes. She barely weighted enough. She sat down in the surf, put on her board, and off she went like an arrow across the break. It was so cool to see her go! She?ll probably be on the pro circuit by the time she?s 20! The next few hours we watched as one after another they would dart across the waves, working their way back and forth across the bay, coming in close to jump off the curl of a breaking wave to be launched into the air and to float for a few seconds. It looked to be so much more freeing than surfing where you?re up for a 5 seconds on a wave, then back down again to row back out to catch another wave. There were some riders that were out on the water for a good couple of hours.   

In the evening, we went to a Sushi bar we had seen the night before. They had a professionally trained sushi chef from Japan working behind the counter. We ordered the Mixed Table option and had the most amazing plate of sushi brought to our table: tuna, red snapper, shrimp, octopus, and these fantastic roles with tuna and cream cheese wrapped in a crispy coconut roll. I?m sure the fish was caught that morning by the local fishermen, it was practically still twitching. I could have eaten 20 pieces of just that roll. Unfortunately at 4 people the plate wasn?t enough so we ordered another one. You can?t have too much sushi! It cost us a bit more than the budget allowed for the day, but it was well worth it. After supper, we walked up and down Main Street looking for ice cream. It has become almost an obsession for us. It is so good and fresh! We could hear fireworks and thought it was for a football (soccer) game between Peru and someone else but we soon found ourselves being passed by a slow religious procession. At the front was a large statue of a black skinned Jesus being carried by 5 men. Behind came dozens of women and children, all silently following the statue, in slow step. At the rear was another man setting off a firework every few minutes. It?s the randomness of things that makes travelling such a wonderful and enriching experience, and this was definitely one.  

The next day, our last day before we had to start heading south towards Lima, we had planned to try to rent quad bikes but there isn?t anyone in town who rents them so we did the same as the day before: lazed in the sun, drank lots of beers, ordered appetizers, and watched the surfers and Kiteboarders. None of us actually swam in the ocean, the water was too cold, even for Kevin. In the late afternoon, when the sun is about to set, it gets pretty nippy so we returned to the restaurant/bar of our hotel and played cards for a few hours then a few games of ping pong. It was hilarious, I had never played and I was as elegant as an elephant trying to do the waltz. Every few seconds Kevin or I had a look of utter surprise as we would swing for that freakin? little ball to have it flying by us. I spent more time retrieving it as it bounced all over the place than I did actually playing. As the night fell, we were starved from, well, doing nothing all day. We headed over to a Mexican restaurant for some authentic chicken tacos and burritos. To work off some of the food we had eaten that day, we went to a local bar and played a few rounds of pool.   

Tomorrow we leave for Trujillo on a 10 hour bus ride. This will be our longest bus ride to date. 

Exchange Rate: S./3.00 = 1.00 CAD