Mancora - Hippee Surfer Paradise

Trip Start Jul 15, 2004
Trip End Jul 15, 2005

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, August 4, 2004

What a difference a couple of days and several antibiotics later makes! Hello again amigos..

I am now in Peru, after a fairly fun-filled and adventure packed boarder crossing from Ecuador...not for me though. The term chaos is often used in situations, however I have found the pefect situation to apply it to. The boarder crossing was just insane! After having out passports checked 3 times at different stations BEFORE we got to the Ecuadorian border, we thought we were getting the hang of it, however that was before the Peru boarder. There boarder is in a market down, dusty dry place, just as you imagine boarder towns, full of dodgy looking people. Normally, once at the Ecuadorian boarder, you have to walk for about 30 minutes to the Peruvian passport control and through a market place, where pickpockets and scammers abound. But, at the last minute we found a bus to take us to the Peruvian passport control, so on we all jumped, with out packs...or so we thought. As the bus was taking off, we saw out two Canadian friends running madly behind the bus. We stopped, and Maria got off to find them, but they were suddenly gone! Someone had said he would help them, got them into a taxi and drove them into the market place...where they were then basically forced to change money...and got completely ripped off...Finally they caught up to us at the border, both pretty scared and upset. To make matters worse, Mandy had her money changed to fake they lost a lot of money (nearly $150 US). It was tricky too, because Maria is Ecuadorian and therefore not supposed to work in Peru, so we had to pretend she wasnt our group leader at the Peru passport control...and she was so upset about Anthony and Mandy. I think it taught us all a bit. The money changers at the Peru passport control were really slimy guys, trying to make you think you had to change money now (they told Anthony that all shops would be shut for 6 days for a festival). I didnt fall for it, I never change money on the streets anyway, and I succesfully scared off a few of them. I can be scary when I try!!

So, to Mancora, which we finally made it to by 3pm yesterday afternoon (after out 5am start in Cuenca). The bus ride was pretty good, and we were treated to a diverse landscape once again as we went from mountains to coastal plain and tropical conditions. We went through Machala (Bsnana capital of the world apparently...there was even a statue) and then into a real desert/scrub like terrain, not dissimilar to the drive from Perth to Kalgoorlie I guess...except with lots of vultures flying around and people herding donkeys along the road! Our bus driver was mad...they overtake on mountain roads...on corners even at high speed...basically, it is best not to look. In the end, we seemed to be racing a rival bus company at one stage, so we all ended up laughing about it. We got yet another violent kung fu type movie...dubbed of course...followed up by an 80s music soundtrack (of mostly songs that were never hits...must have been titled The Most Average Songs of the 80s). We started singing to Funky Town and Grease...badly, and not long after the music was back to Salsa. Mancora! it is a beach town, kinda a beach shanty town really. Nothing like I have ever been to before. Very basic, but chilled and relaxed, but noisy. Sleeping was a challenge last night (thanks to the kids playing basketball outside the room) and then this morning (thanks to the talkative drunk German guys deciding to teach their new friends card games outside out window at 6 this morning). But our room is practically on the beach and so you cant really complain. I even had a swim this morning and I am going a very nice shade of brown already. There are surfer/hippee people everywhere, and beachside markets selling heaps of jewellry and clothes (tie-dye is big here) and lots of crochet stuff...skirts, bikinis and yes I am tempted! It is nice and warm which I think we will need, because we have some cold places coming up for the next month. Tomorrow we take a bus to Lima, all 14 hours of we are enjoying the relaxation by the beach while we can. The beach is nice, but I have to say this, not a patch on Cottesloe, Leighton and Coogee..or anyone to name downsouth. You can learn to surf here, but I took one look at the very big board the guy wanted to get me to learn on, and I was intimidated to say the least. I just dont think the surfing thing is me...the hippee thing is a different thing altogether!

So, I am off to get myself a tie-dyed head scarf, and resist all the lovely other things on the stalls. One thing I have discovered though, the Spanish is WAY different here than Ecuador. I was just starting to get better, and now I can{t understand a word being said and more helpfully, they cant understand me either! So, this will make the bargaining thing even more fun.

After Lima we are going to Arequipa, and Nazcar, followed by Cuzco and the Inca Trail. We are all thinking we are going to need a fair amount of Coca leaves to get up it (we tried it in Ecuador...not half bad...). So, I will write soon.

Hasta Luego

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