Getting off the bus at 6am we can tell we are making our way towards the equator as it’s fantastically warm. A short mototaxi ride and 100m climb and we arrive at a very quiet home for just the next three days – Kontiki Bungalows. We have splashed out a bit and have our own bungalow, complete with thatched roof, perched on the hill overlooking the small beach town of Mancora.
On our travels, Mancora has frequently been recommended. Stories of a so-laid back it’s horizontal atmosphere, year round sun and surf made this our choice to say farewell to Peru. The border to Ecuador is only a few hours away so this is our chance to try all the weird and wonderful local dishes we have missed so far and top up our tans.
By midday the skies are clear blue and temperatures are hitting 30c. With only the beach on our mind, we scramble together a beach kit and spend the next four hours on the sand, watching surfers and sipping Cusquena (the best Peruvian beer). Looking out to sea, we also spot our first humpback whales breaching and jumping in the distance, they must be a mile or so offshore but it’s an incredible sight and makes us more determined to try and catch the whales in Ecuador, although it might be a bit late in the season. That evening, we literally stumble across the carcass of an enormous, dead sea-lion on the deserted beach. Surprises like this, although it was a rancid smelling one, keep you on your toes. Just when you become accustomed to a country or place, something is thrown at you like this that leaves you bewildered.
If you’ve never surfed, this would be a great place to learn.The waves don’t look that intimidating and the water is warm. We to- and fro-ed over whether to start surf lessons here and decided against it. Central America in peak season is calling, with promises of white sand and turquoise waters. If we are going to hit the waves, we want the full package. Instead we spend the days on the beach, getting sun burnt. Very sun burnt. We’ll never learn. Leah has legs like a lobster and my face looks like it’s going to blister. The locals are good businessmen, aloe vera aftersun is heart-attack expensive, but we have no option – we are losing skin.
Our hut/bungalow has a fantastic porch complete with hammock. Just a couple of metres from our door, the cliff edge is sheer, below us the Pan-American highway only slightly disturbs a few fantastic sunsets. We received a visit from a scorpion which crashed us back into reality; it walked past our feet whilst sitting outside. We spent the rest of the evenings with our feet firmly OFF the ground.
This is a great place, a place where we could easily spend a week or two. We actually regretted leaving so quickly, three days was not enough. Maybe it was the sun and sea, maybe the two course meals for £2, more likely the people and the atmosphere. No wonder the German owner of our hut came here on holiday eight years ago and never left. But leave we do.
We’d put Peru near the top of any travel list, but Ecuador sounds exotic and we are excited as ever to be going into another country, although a bit sad to be leaving behind Peru. Ecuador, by all accounts, will be harder travelling and there will have to be a lot more back-watching for light fingered locals.
A short bus ride to the border town of Tumbes and then onto the colonial town of Cuenca (colonial seems to be a tag attached to almost any town over here). Ecuador uses US dollars, which is bad news for us as the pound is taking a battering against it. Seems like the economy is in a right mess back home, we still feel a million miles from there…