Our first glimpse of Peru: beach life in Mancora

by Kim on October 4, 2012 · 41 comments

Ecuador is behind us- we’ve made it to Peru!

We arrived in Mancora at 5 a.m. after catching an overnight bus out of Cuenca. It was a nine hour journey that had us crossing the boarder from Huaquilla, Ecuador into Tumbus, Peru around two in the morning.

It was our first overland boarder crossing and I was nervous, had heard some not-so-nice stories, nevermind that we were crossing in the middle of the night. But our friends Kate and Leon, whom we’d met while volunteering in Baños, had made the same crossing a night before without any difficulty.

It turns out we had nothing to worry about. The crossing was straightforward and painless. The bus we’d caught in Cuenca took us almost to the boarder where another bus, one that would take us into Peru, was waiting. We filed off the Ecuadorian bus and onto the Peruvian bus which drove us about ten miles to the immigration office. We stood in a line to be stamped out of Ecuador, then moved to an adjacent line to be stamped into Peru. Then we loaded back on the bus and were on our way. The whole process took about an hour.

We pulled into Mancora in the wee hours of the morning, filed off of our bus and hopped into a tuk tuk that drove us down a bumpy dirt road and deposited us at Laguna Surf Camp. A man, barefoot and in board shorts, met us at the gate and ushered us down a brick path to a tiny thatched roof beach hut. We threw our bags on the floor and promptly collapsed into bed, too exhausted even to spread the mosquito net that hung from the ceiling overhead.

We awoke late the next morning to the sound of crashing waves, blue skies and sunshine- a welcomed escape from the rain and gray skies of Ecuador. Kate and Leon, who’d reserved our hut for us, welcomed us as we emerged from our room, blinking our eyes in the morning sunshine. Welcome to paradise they said, or, if they didn’t actually say that, they totally should have.

The dusty dirt road to Laguna Surf Camp

Our beach hut

What is it about the ocean that turns life slow as molasses?

For the past four days Brian, Kate, Leon and I have lounged lazily in hammocks, listening to the waves crash and the sound of the wind in the palm fronds. Occasionally we pull ourselves out of our salt-water coma and walk the five minutes to town for food, or to grab a beer, or to take a dip in the warm ocean. We tried our hand at surfing one day and, after giving up on that, boogie boarding the next.

Where we rock the day away

Lounging on the beach

It is the off-season here, has just turned to Spring, and each day the sky is a deep blue and the temperature a perfectly warm 75-80 degrees. There is a constant, cool salty breeze blowing in off the sea.

Mancora is a small town of surf shops, bars, and restaurants with plastic chairs plopped into the sand. It’s a beach town like so many other beach towns, dusty roads and tuk tuks and men selling coconuts to drink. In the high season Mancora is the place that Peruvians come to see and be seen. But right now the place positively crawls, there are only a handful of tourists in town.

Mancora, Peru

The sea air and sunshine have seeped into my brain, my senses are operating at the slowest pace.

I can’t be bothered to write or even read, often finding myself just staring into the sky as I rock slowly in a hammock. It has taken me four days to write this little blog post, and even so I’m not sure it makes much sense. I’ve tried to proofread it twenty times but lose concentration before I’ve even finished.

I could stay here in Mancora for a very long time. Sadly, though, we’ll be leaving tonight on an 18-hour bus ride to Lima, where we’ll stay briefly before catching a 21-hour bus ride to Cuzco.

We’ll be in Cuzco for a few days to acclimate to the altitude before setting off to hike the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu. Our trek on the Inca Trail is the first thing we booked when we were planning our trip, so we’re really excited for it to finally take shape. 

But, all of that is in the future. For now, please excuse me, I must go back to my hammock for a few final hours in heaven.

A little slice of heaven

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Carmel October 4, 2012 at 11:30 am

Wow, I’m more relaxed just after reading that. I’m glad you’re getting some sun (finally) and able to relax before your trek!

I’ll admit, I’m starting to get stupidly nervous about things like transportation. But I forget that I’ll have plenty of time in each destination to figure things out, it doesn’t all have to be done NOW.

So, for now, I’ll just recline and imagine myself rocking in a hammock, too. Oh wait, I have to work. Crap.

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm

CARMEL! I used to totally freak about transportation- I get it! But I have found that things just sort of fall into place and you learn things from other travelers. Don’t worry about it now. It will fall into place in its own time. XO

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Carmel October 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Shawn says that won’t stop me. He may be correct…but it does help to hear that from you.

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Kim October 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Yeah, well, what I have also found is that I’m so busy planning our next moves, where we’ll stay, what we’ll do, etc. that I don’t even have time to worry! It’s kind of nice.

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Rhonda October 4, 2012 at 12:09 pm

HEAVEN is right!! I understand exactly how you feel and wish you many more lazy beach towns in your traveling future. When we were on our RTW we learned that, in the end, the most valuable commodity is time and sometimes you just need to do nothing to truly rejuvenate your soul.
Enjoy and can’t wait to hear about the Inca Trail!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Man, after 48 hours on a bus to get to Cusco those hammocks seem like more of a dream than ever!

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Natalie Goff October 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

All right, Peru! Yummy smoothies in the Cuzco market. Be sure to get to Manu and the Rio Madre de Dios. That and the Inca Trail…..you’ll never forget either.

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thanks for the tips! I’m going to get a smoothie at the market tomorrow :)

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cynthia October 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Definitely looks like paradise!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Paradise without a doubt.

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Gillian @OneGiantStep October 4, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I’m glad I’m not the only one who can spend hours rocking and staring into space. Sounds heavenly. I hope you were able to pitch your mind back to it during those bus rides to Cusco!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Nope, you aren’t the only one. I’m an old pro!

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Seattle Dredge October 4, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Sounds like an exhausting journey, but totally worth it. That hammock looks like heaven :]

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

OMG, it was so exhausting. I’m just glad we made it safely to Cuzco!

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Patti October 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm

All you need is someone to bring you a frozen fruity drink with an umbrella in it!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

No kidding! It was the only thing missing…

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) October 5, 2012 at 5:28 am

Looks like heaven, Kim! So far our adventure has had a dearth of beaches of any sort… this past week we have been holed up in an apartment in Shanghai (to escape Golden Week travel madness) and done very little, which as been nice, but it’s no rocking in a hammock on the beach. But our next destination is all about white beaches and blue skies… can’t wait to have a taste of the sweet life!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

You are headed to Asia next, right? You’ll have more amazing beaches than you can count!!! I’m jealous :)

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Anne October 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

Missing you here in Portland, and glad to hear you are enjoying some molasses days on the beach :) We will be with you two in spirit as you trek to Macchu Picchu!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Miss you too lady, it looks like the weather in Portland is amazing. It’s my favorite time of year. Give Brian big hugs from us :)

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Tyrhone October 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

Lifes a beach innit :), looks like a cool little town, and cute little huts. Put an aircon in there and I’d be chuffed as.

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Sure is! You should know, hanging out in Mexico and all :)

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Arianwen October 5, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Oooohhh, it looks really relaxing. I’m sad I missed it! The Santa Cruz trek in Huaraz was amazing though, and now I’m chilling in a hammock in Huacachina! I hope you have a great time in Cusco. If you’re there a while, maybe I’ll see you there!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

I’m sad I missed Huaraz! When do you get to Cusco?

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Sarah Somewhere October 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Looks lovely Kim, glad you guys have had some chill time before your epic bus journey and trek. Good luck for the next leg, very exciting!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Thanks Sarah! That bus journey was insane… I need those hammocks again ;)

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Hannah October 5, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Ah, that looks like my kind of place, and very similar to the beach huts here in Palolem. So glad you took some time to rest and recharge before the next leg of your adventure, you sound very relaxed and happy :)

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I was so relaxed I could barely remember my own name. It was wonderful :)

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Daniel October 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

Holy cow! After looking at your photos, I really wish I would be able to close my eyes and somehow be in Mancora when I open them. The place looks super lovely, let alone the beaches and the beach hut. I always love relaxing in a hammock. Doing so always gives me that feeling of peacefulness and freedom. Just found your blog btw, and I love how you document your trips. You really are an inspiration. Take care and god bless! :)

//Daniel

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Thanks Daniel, I’m so glad you found the blog :) If you get the chance you should definitely head to Mancora.

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Ayngelina October 6, 2012 at 10:30 am

Wait, don`t miss Northern Peru! It is my biggest tip for people in South America, so cheap and tons of ruins you can see that are just as big as Machu Picchu.

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Arg, we missed it :( We were on a timeframe because we booked our Inca Trail trip in advance… but next time we will hit Northern Peru (yes, there will be a next time!)

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Meagan S October 7, 2012 at 9:28 am

How did you like surfing!? Despite my hatred of saltwater and like of coordination, I tried it yesterday in Huanchaco and have to try it again. Also, I have officially recommended your blog to my family, so they can read about life at La Bib, ’cause I’m either too busy or too lazy to write about it in a clever or eloquent way. Enjoy Cuzco!!!

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Kim October 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Well, I was terrible but I can see how it could be fun! Next time I will take a real lesson and see if I can’t get up on that board. Glad you recommended the blog to your family. I hope that I represented Banos and the bib properly ;)

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Leah October 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Hi Kim,

Stumbled across your blog and loving it (my husband and I are 3 months into a RTW trip as well and you’re just a few steps ahead–we’re in Banos now).

Quick question for you, as we were also hoping to hit Mancora from Cuenca. What bus company did you take and how far in advance did you purchase tickets? Thanks in advance for any insider tips besides what you wrote above so we can hopefully have a smooth passage as well. Safe travels!

-Leah

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Kim October 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hi Leah, hope you got my email.

If not, I can tell you that we don’t know the company we used. We just showed up at the bus station about an hour before the bus was to leave and caught the only overnight to Mancora. Good luck!

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Liz October 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

Where did you get your beach dress and what is it called? (style?) I love it :)

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Kim October 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Hello Liz! That is actually a sarong that I just tied up as a dress. An old co-worker of mine gave it to me, so I don’t know where it came from originally.

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Stephanie November 2, 2014 at 6:59 am

Hi Kim,
I just discovered your blog a couple days ago (two years after you wrote the post above!). I don’t see any posts where you talk about Cuenca. I’ve heard good things about that town, and we were planning to check it out. Is it worth it?

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Kim November 2, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Hi Stephanie! Yes, Cuenca is totally worth it. It’s a college town and a pretty hip place. Brian and I really liked it there despite the fact that I didn’t write any blog posts about it. Have fun :)

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