Léa and I wake up when the bus arrives in Máncora at about 8am. We step off the bus and are immediately surrounded by about ten young men, each offering to take us in their moto-taxi (think Asian tuk-tuk). They are not easily dissuaded.
“No. Gracias. Ya les he dicho que no. Vamos caminando.” I put my foot down, as everything is in walking distance.
“El hombre ha dicho que no!” They echo, with smiles on their faces.
Smug surf-town dudes. They eventually leave us alone.
Léa and I wander through the beach shanty town, and the dirt road beneath our feet gradually turns to sand. Two minutes later we’re on the beach, and it’s glorious!
We walk up and down the coast a bit, looking for cheap accommodation. The first place we visit was a yoga resort with a private swimming pool, free yoga classes, breakfast included, and the rooms they show us are really nice. “How much?” we ask. She seems open to negotiation, but it starts at $135 per night. We explain that we’re used to paying $10, and she drops from $135 down to $25, provided we tell people about the place. Amazed by our own negotiation skills, but still not convinced this empty yoga resort is the right place for us, we tell her we’ll shop around. But, here I am, telling people about it. You all should definitely go.
We work our way into the more populated part of the beach, where they’re giving surfing lessons to people of all shapes and sizes. There’s a nice little break about a hundred meters out, with shallow waters less than two meters deep.
There are a good number of tourists in the town, though you can tell by the rows of empty discotecas and restaurants that this town must get really slammed during the high season, which we figure is in January-February.
Everywhere we go, there are French people. When we look at the list of guests in every hotel registry it’s French, French, French, Australian, French, Argentinian, French…we may need to write a separate post on this subject alone. What percentage of French people are outside of the country on average on any given day of the year? Someone should look into this.
Back to the search for accommodation: a simple hotel near the beach called Casa del Turista grabs our attention, and we book a cheap room.
The sun is hot. I’m not great with geography, but considering Ecuador is just up the coast, we must be really near the equator, right? And the sun is strong at the equator.
We spend two days bumming around on the beach, including a beach further north called Punta Sal.
On our last day we eat breakfast at a little place called Cafe del Mundo. The owner is Belgian, the cook is French. While eating, we see two middle-aged French men encounter each other in the street. They clearly live here, and Léa overhears them talking about teaching surfing lessons, and still paying taxes in France, never having gotten around to changing their status. They give each other a suave, practiced surfer handshake (with fistbump) and they go their separate ways.
While we finish our breakfast, Léa and I imagine what our lives would be like if we moved to a small beach town in the middle of nowhere.
Our midday bus rolls up and we hop on. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover: six hours through the desolate northern desert to Chiclayo, then transfer to a night bus that will cross the Andes in the dark and deliver us to the town of Chachapoyas, where the Andes meet the Amazon.
Categories: Posts in English