Early the next morning, we caught a bus north to the coastal town of Mancora, home of Peru's best sandy beach and popular with surfers, hippies and Peruvian families. We checked into Loki Del Mar, a backpackers resort complete with swimming pool! Little did we know that there would be a party every night right outside our bedroom window! We spent the next couple of days chilling on the beach and eating delicious seafood, including Peru's most famous dish, ceviche, which is raw fish marinated in lime juice, onion and chilli. It is heavenly. We also discovered the delights of the Pisco Sour, a frothy white cocktail composed of Pisco (Peruvian liquor made from grapes), lemon or lime juice, egg white, syrup and bitters. Also heavenly! Tom wanted to have a go at surfing but the waves had other ideas, completely disappearing by the time he had hired a board and paddled out to the break!
On the third day, we took a tour to Amotape Hills National Park, the largest remaning area of dry forest in western South America, and home to Anteaters and many birds. Another couple were supposed to join us but they called in sick and so it was just the two of us, the guide (whose name I couldn't pronounce) and his friend, a very sweet 20 year old girl called Leydy. We drove north through the desert hugging the coast for much of the way
. The coastline here is wild and largely undeveloped. Every now and then we would cross a river and the desert would disappear for a short time and be replaced by emerald rice paddies and banana plantations. When we reached Tumbes, we turned east and continued on a small road which eventually became a dirt track and then a partially dried up river bed, which can apparently become a raging torrent during the wet season. We bounced our way along the river bed, passing a few donkeys, pigs, cows and goats. We were now entering the dry forest (Bosque Seco), characterised by ceiba trees, which look a bit like African baobabs with distinctive bulbous trunks, and another tree with beautiful yellow flowers. Eventually, the river bed became inpassable even in our 4x4 pickup. So we set off on foot, following the river until we reached a small waterfall. Here we scrambled up the rocks to a crystal clear pool into which was flowing another waterfall. It was a beautiful and tranquil spot completely hidden away from the world. The waterfall had smoothed away the rock to such an extent that it had become a slide which we had much fun going down! We stayed here for a couple of hours, enjoying a pasta salad for lunch before returning to the truck. On the way back to Mancora we stopped for a dip at a thermal spring that was only discovered a year ago. The waters were lovely and warm and had a strange smell that reminded me of the science lab at school! It was a surreal experience wallowing around in a giant bath in the middle of the desert! We returned to Mancora tired and happy after a really enjoyable day.
We have an epic journey infront of us tomorrow. We are travelling to Huaraz, up in the Cordillera Blanca mountains. This will involve a 4 hour bus to Piura followed by a 7 hour bus to Trujillo, followed by a 9 hour night bus to Huaraz!
We crossed the border into Peru a couple of days ago. We travelled down from the Andes along a quiet, winding road, hardly seeing any other traffic, and crossed the border at Macara, a dry and dusty outpost in the middle of nowhere. The border crossing itself was very straightforward, simply a case of getting off the bus, filling out a few forms, having our passports stamped by Ecuadorian emigration and then Peruvian immigration and back on the bus again. We have really enjoyed our time in Ecuador and were sad to say goodbye but at the same time it was exciting to be entering a new country. Almost immdiately after crossing the border the scenery changed to dry forest and then scrubby desert. Much of north Peru is desert and apart from the numerous cacti is reminiscent of African savannah with small thorny trees dotted about. Passing through small villages, we wondered how the people survive in this parched landscape. After about 7 hours, we reached Piura, a hot and hectic place where the streets were crammed with motorcycle taxis. Hopping onto one of these we drove to our lodgings for the night, stopping at an ATM on the way to get out some Nuevo Soles, the Peruvian currency