Marvellous Mancora!

Trip Start Jun 15, 2012
Trip End Dec 20, 2012

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

   The first bus from Cuenca to Mancora which we're on for 5 hours is quite modern and everyone mostly sleeps despite Daniela putting Gladiator on the TV to entertain us. We then have to get off the bus in order to pass through the Ecuadorian-Peruvian border and get officially stamped out of our 5th country. It doesn't take too long but we have to wait for our next bus so we nibble on some food while sitting outside the bus station - it's very warm! We then get on our next bus and make ourselves comfortable, only to have the bus stop 10mins later and we have to get off again for the Peruvian authorities to check our passports and have them stamped again. This takes longer as it's a Sunday so there is only one guy trying to process everyone - we all start getting a bit hot and bothered - especially when we see that the second official there was actually playing Solitaire on his PC!! After getting through we decide to take some tourist photos on the border itself only to have a security guard come over and shout at us. We thought we'd done something wrong and weren't supposed to take photos of the Peru sign. But no, Sally was standing in the wrong place next to the sign and the guard told her to shift down next to the capital 'P'. Glad to see they're busy! Eventually we're back on the bus, not as nice as the first once and we're all getting rather hot and sticky now but we power on ahead knowing that the beach and sea lie ahead of us. 2.5 hours later the bus stops again, no we haven't arrived in Mancora, instead we have to get off the bus to pass through a Peruvian customs check-point... 2.5 hours after crossing the border!!! Reluctnatly we all get off the bus yet again with our bags and prepare to go through the hassle of customs, however, they let us all walk straight by them and back on the bus! What an absolutely pointless waste of time - Daniela points out that this maybe why there is such a big problem with drugs crossing the borders! 10mins later we arrive into Mancora - what a journey!!
We get off the bus on the main street of this small beach town (which has the PanAmerican highway running right through it) and load our stuff onto several moto-taxis (pretty much tuk-tuks) which have gathered around us. We then 'put-put' off down the main street clinging onto our luggage which has been placed precariously on the back of these things and head to our new accomodation. We are all pleasantly suprised when we arrive and are given our room keys - overlooking the beach, palm trees everywhere, hammocks and sunloungers outside each room, a pool and sunbathing decking are absolute bliss! Most of us dump our bags, strip off and dive straight into the pool to wash off the horrible feeling from travelling 10 hours today - pure bliss!
We then dry off, get changed - digging out our summer/beach clothes from the bottom of our bags - and head out for dinner. Daniela takes us to a BBQ Beef house for dinner. Adam orders Surf and Turf and thoroughly enjoys what turns up - apart from the turf being so pink in the middle that you can almost see its heart still beating. Sally has pasta - we're all carb loading after a day of travelling and looking forward to a couple of days on the beach! Daniela then takes us on a quick walk up and down the main street so we have an idea of where we are in the moring, then we head back to our fab rooms and all sleep very well!

The next morning we have no alarm set so have a lie in and are awoken by the sun streaming in through the blinds. We get up, get dressed and open our doors to a glowing sunshine and a beautiful day - bliss! We have breakfast in the hotel while deciding what to do with our day and making use of the free wifi throughout. After some deliberation we get on our bathing suits, lather up in sun lotion and head to the beach. We decide to hire some surf boards and put our skills honned in Cornwall to the test. The water is full of surfers, some locals are amazingly good and a lot of tourists like us who are not so. The Pacific ocean is cool but not cold and the waves are big and powerful - safe to say we get wiped out a number of times but we manage to catch a dozen or so waves in the 2/3 hours we're out on the water for. Enough for us to feel proud enough to head back to the beach to dry off in the baking hot sun!
Feeling hungry after all our exercise we head off in search of some food - Daniela had mentioned a veggie restaurant in town that has a good reputation so we decide to head there. Some of our group are already there with 'Angela's' repuatation passing through the group. Adam has a massive fruit salad with granola, yoghurt and honey while Sally has a soy burger which is bigger than her head - she eats half and saves the rest for dinner. We then head back to the beach to lie on the sand and digest in the sun - life could be worse!
After a few hours we head back to the hotel as Sally has agreed to go for a run on the beach with a few others from the group. This gives Adam some quality hammock time with the laptop to catch up on NUFC transfer news (nothing concrete to report much to his dismay). The tide has come in as we attempt to run along the beach, so instead of getting soaked we take the backroads and cut back onto the beach further up - though as we're running away from town the area gets more and more desolate. We run about 3 miles in total - not bad considering the heat and running on sand - we head back to the hotel feeling very smug over those who opted out of the run. Time for a shower and quick change as we're going for Salsa lessons tonight.
We load ourselves into more moto-taxis again and head to our salsa lesson, somewhere in the back streets off the main road we go through a door and are presented with a concrete dancefloor partially covered above with a layer of plants producing some sort of fruit. The tall people stood at the back as the 'roof' sloped. Our instructor was certainly enthusiastic and she puts on the Beginners Salsa 1 CD for us to shuffle about to. She was swapping us around all the time with each other teaching us the basic steps and some basic arm movements to bring it all together. It was all going well until she found out that Sally is a Zumba instructor back home and has been taking part in classes for about 3 years now. She kind of screams with excitement as she points out her zumba wrist straps and the zumba sign she has hanging up. She's not an instructor yet but a friend of hers is sending her through the music so she can see if it will catch on in Mancora. It then seems like she just wants to teach us Zumba instead of the Salsa as she changes the CD and on comes some Zumba music as she takes too the front of the room. A bit of a disappointing end to the night as we were all there and paying to be taught salsa not to take a Zumba class. Anyway, we were not feeling so good so we load ourselves back into a moto-taxi and head back to the hotel where we tuck ourselves up in bed with a bag of crisps as dinner and a DVD on the laptop.

Another lazy lie-in morning, though the big whinging dog tied up in the garage around the corner from our room wakes us & reminds us that we have packing to do before our day starts. Daniela tells us that the dog belongs to the hotel owner & is very very old but extremely well looked after so our concerns about him are put to one side. We pack up our stuff then head to Green Eggs & Ham on the beach for a great breakfast of pancakes (proper ones this time) & fresh fruit. Eating this awesome food while looking over the beach, palm trees & sea filled with the locals demonstrating how to surf properly - we think life isn't too bad!
We wander back to the hotel & spend a bit of time chilling by the pool, reading, surfing the Web & enjoying the sunshine. We decide we should do something today though so head out to the main street to look at the local shops & stores. Adam gets himself a Mancora wifebeater & a sarong - quite the image - Sally gets a headband! Think I missed out there! We then head to the vegetarian restaurant again for a light lunch - more fruit salad with a side of homemade hummus - yum! I think we have been keeping this place in business over the past 2 days as there is always someone from our group eating there! Most of the group have experienced some sort of dodgy stomach so I think we're all craving good, simple, healthy food!
After lunch we head to the beach to digest, soak up some sun & cool off in the sea. Mancora has a totally relaxed feeling to it, time just flies away as you're relaxing & taking stock of where you are, where you've been & what's still to come! After a few hours we head back to the hotel to meet the rest of the group - Adam attends Daniela's group briefing where she gave us information on the night bus that we're getting later & tomorrow's activities. Sally heads to a yoga class which is taught by Alexa, a Californian women living in Peru for 5 years now. A totally relaxing experience - on a roof top watching an amazing sunset over the ocean. Adam then meets us & we head back to our local, Angela's Vegetarian Restaurant, for our last dinner in Mancora. We all opted for pizzas which came out loaded with fresh toppings & a jug of fruit juice each - mmmm! We head back to the hostel, grab our bags & load ourselves into tuk-tuks & head for the bus station. However, there must have been some confusion with the drivers as a group of us end up next to an overnight bus about to depart but missing 2 tuk-tuks containing the rest of our group & our tour leader! After 10 mins of trying to explain our situation to the bus driver & getting angry looks from the locals at delaying their bus, Tom comes running up the road saying we're at the wrong place! What a relief! We walk 3 mins down the road & see the rest of the group & Daniela waiting outside another 'bus station' (just the side of the main road actually). Safe to say the tuk-tuk drivers didn't get their full pay! After an hour wait on the road side our bus finally turns up, we load on all our bags then clamber up the stairs & make ourselves at home on our bed for the night. As we set off we catch the end of the John Carter film that was being played on the bus in Spanish, then we're plunged into darkness, don our eyemasks (picked up from Rockliffe Hall before we left) & sleep takes over us!

Mancora was a brilliant 2 days - so nice to stop feeling like we're traveling and feeling like we're on holiday. A great relaxing time to catch up with ourselves after travelling to & fro for the past month!
Back on the traveller route now though, next stop is Huanchaco!
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