After a drama free border crossing (Dave was given a 90 day visa, I only got 60 days) we hop back on the bus and admire the arid Peruvian landscape pass by in the dark.
We’d let the hostel know we would be arriving in the early hours and they said the gate would be open and there was a living room area we could wait in. When we arrived in Mancora, we massively overpaid a tuk tuk driver to take us to our hostel as we only had dollers on us. We arrived at the hostel just before 5.30am.
We tried the gate, it was very firmly locked!
So we waited. After about half an hour we hear some noise from the other side of the gate and a light comes on. We try the gate again and it’s open, there is no one to be seen anywhere. There is a raised seating area with two sofas and a little table, we drop our bags and hit the sofa very relieved. There’s another locked door and a wooden staircase leading up to the roof. I try to get some sleep but the light is attracting moths and I hate moths! They keep flying into the wall and falling onto the sofa with us. Dave goes for a walk back into the little town to get some cash and I stay at the hostel trying to avoid moths.
A man pokes his head around the previously locked door, says hello and then tells me the room is not ready yet but I can wait inside if I like. I try to tell him Dave has gone to get cash but what I actually say is ‘my boyfriend, we go to ATM’ he looks at me with a mixture of confusion and amusement and then says ‘we can speak in English if you’d prefer’ I’m so relieved. I tell him I’ll wait for Dave to come back and he disappears again. A few minutes later he re-appears and tells me the room will be ready at 10am, two hours earlier than check-in time, I thank him and off he goes again. A couple of minutes later he’s back, now he’s telling me the room will be ready at 9am, great. He’s barely shut the door before he’s back again, this time telling me the room is ready. I’m chuffed and gratefully follow him through into a small garden courtyard and into our room. We’ve got another huge room with a double bed and bunk beds, thankfully there is a ceiling fan and freestanding one too. I text Dave to let him know where I am and where he should go, it’s so much easier in the countries where our phones work. As soon as Dave gets back we put our heads down and get a couple of hours sleep.We spend the day in a sleepy fog wandering along the beach and through the little town.
The town has loads of different restaurant options and we decide to have sushi for dinner.
We both go for a bowl, you can pick between various types of rice or noodle, two different meat or fish bits, three vegetables, four salad items and a sauce. It was delicious, so good, by far the best meal we have eaten since we arrived in South America. After a very satisfying meal we head home and hit the sack to try and catch up on some of our lost sleep.
The next day we wake up late and take a slow walk along the beach. The sand is soft and slightly grey and the sea is rough with plenty of people surfing. The tide is in and we have to skip past rocks and jump over waves to get to the next section of beach. The next section is much quieter than the busy, main surfer beach. There are fishing boats lined up further out at sea and the sea is slightly calmer here.
We walked a fair way before we hit a pier we couldn’t pass because the tide was in. We tried walking up the cliff to the road but it looked like a private road leading to the fishing area. We turn back and I play in the waves for a while.
That evening we put on our gladrags and head out for what will hopefully be another amazing dinner.
We try a couple of the local beers, they are not as cheap as we would like them to be but they are nice and cold.
On the menu this evening are some pretty hefty burgers.
They’re good but they are no sushi bowl. We try a few more beers and then call it a night.
The guy who runs the hostel we’re staying at used to be a chef, not only did it mention this on the guest info sheet, he also told us he used to own a restaurant. He offers breakfast to guests at an extra cost. We ask him if we could have breakfast the next morning and he very kindly obliges and even asks us what we would like.
We get up bright and early the next morning excited for our chef prepared breakfast only to find the hostel strangely quiet. We sit in the courtyard garden just outside the kitchen and wait. We catch up on calls with the family and about an hour after we were supposed to be having breakfast the hostel owner turns up. He apologises and says he forgot about our breakfast and that it was his birthday today. He looked as though he’d been celebrating the night before! After a late cafe breakfast we hit the beach, we spend a few hours jumping about in the waves and letting the surf drag us up the beach. We wander to the other end of the beach and see a couple of guys kite surfing.
The tide is on the way out so we decide to walk back the other way to see if we can reach a beach called Pocitas, the other side of the pier. We set out the same way as before and when we reach the pier we head back up to the road. There’s a security gate and some guards as we approach they stop us and ask us where we are going. We tell them we are going to Pocitas and they wave us through. There’s no way back down to the beach from here so we follow the road around, along a row of fancy looking hotels. A little way down the road we find some stairs down to the beach, we head back down and wander along. The sand is still soft but there are large rocks scattered around.
As we get further up the beach the rocks get bigger and there are rock pools full of crabs and little fish.
We spotted this guy trying to hide in a pool but his gorgeous colour gave him away…
The sun was starting to set so we grab a few sunset pictures and started a slow stroll back.
On one of our earlier mooches we spotted a Mexican restaurant, as burritos are one of my new favourite things, I was keen to have dinner here. As we approached the restaurant a guy, presumably the owner, grabbed us and told us we had to try some of the ribs being cooked up on a BBQ. The ribs were massive and looked very meaty, he cut a slice off, chucked some salt on it and Dave had a try. He was sold, I think he was pretty sold before he’d tried any but he was definitely firmly sold after having some.
The next day we took a bus down the coast to Los Organos because in nearby Ñuro you can swim with turtles.
Before heading on to Ñuro we had a wander around Los Organos. The beach was massive and wide with yellow, orange sand and it had a very earthy (read derelict) feel. The whole place had a very earthy feel and Dave loved it!
After one of us having our fill of the rundown seaside town, we take a tuk tuk on to Ñuro.
Ñuro was not quite what either of us was expecting. We drove through the small town, up a steep hill, round a sharp bend and there was the pier. The pictures we saw before arriving showed a wide almost empty pier with a small pontoon area at the end where people were swimming with the turtles. This was not the view that greeted us! What we saw was a narrow pier full of fisher folk and at the end were the large trays they sorted and washed the fish in. It was loud, busy and very smelly. As we walked further along the pier we did notice that there were lots of turtles swimming alongside it.
Every time a fishing boat pulled up the turtles swarmed around it, making the most of anything they left behind. A man approached us and asked if we wanted to swim with the turtles. After agreeing a price he leads us down to a plastic pontoon off the side of the pier, we board a boat and after the usual South American faff, are on our way. I was a little nervous, which apparently Dave thought was funny…
After a very short boat ride, up and down a small stretch of coast, we pull up almost no distance from the pier. The gross, fishy pier! We jump in the water and the turtles appear out of nowhere. They are huge and they are everywhere. They bump into us and shove us out of their way. They are so big and strong. You’ll be happily floating along watching the turtles when BANG, one clumps the side of you or appears from the murky depths! It’s surreal, scary and completely amazing.
We spend a long time watching these incredible creatures in their natural habitat before boarding the boat again. Once we get back to our seats one of the Chilean ladies sitting next to us points to my leg, I look down and they are shredded. There’s scrapes and scratches all on my thighs and calves. I wipe the blood away with my towel and more appears almost immediately. I guess where some of the turtles bashed into me the barnacles on their shells scratched up my legs. Totally worth it!
The journey back to Mancora is smooth and uneventful and after a basic two course dinner we treat ourselves to some cake!
We get up early the next day to get a bus down the coast to Talara, to catch our flight to Lima. It turns out all my problems sleeping have disappeared during our travels and now I can pretty much sleep anywhere.
We arrive at the tiny, half built airport with so much time to spare, my dad would be proud! We even had time to walk into the little town on a snack/cigarette hunt.
Having flown with Viva Air previously in Colombia and having been stung, fully Ryanair style, to print our boarding passes at the airport (£16, GBP?!!!) We have arrived prepared, we’ve paid for our ‘extra heavy’ bags (Dave’s 18Kg and mine 15Kg) and we’ve paid for our extra carry on bag. What we didn’t pay extra for was to sit together. So also in true Ryanair fashion…
The flight was quiet, quick and rather beautiful.