Blog 6 Left Ccaranacc – to Lima and north Peru to Ecuador.
On the 16th of April we left Ccaranacc for the last time this trip (we do plan on a return visit some day), to go to Huanta, and say goodbye to our good friends and then the next day take the 200 kilometre taxi ride to Huancayo, a city in the central highlands of Peru. The taxi was much more expensive but safer and more comfortable than the bus! There were lots of stories of bus loads of people being robbed on this mountain road but apparently much less chance when traveling by taxi. From here we will travel along the 2nd highest railway track in the world, which will take us down to Lima.
We stayed in the city of Huancayo (altitude 3,300 masl) a few days but were not impressed. The surrounding mountains reach an altitude of 3,600 m. En route to Lima, the road ascends as high as 4,818 m. Huancayo is a city of about 350,000 people, which makes it the fifth most populous in Peru and has been inhabited since 500 years BC.
The region is full of pre-Inca ruins, from the Wanka (yes that is what they were called) civilization. There is place called Tunanmarca, a Wanka ruin that has more than 3,000 houses! Trekking on the Huaytapallana glacier for a day was another option but after seeing the glacier, Perito Moreno, down south of Argentina I didn’t think we would be impressed. There were other touristy things to do but nothing that we hadn’t done elsewhere, so we just had a relaxing few days. They have 4 universities and branches of 5 other Peruvian universities, plus 3 language institutes. There was a festival on during our time there so we watched a bit of it but again we had seen much bigger and better.
The train which we wanted to take only runs twice a month and we couldn’t book the tickets on line or even in advance at the station, so we had to get up at 4:30am to secure our train tickets on the day of its departure. The time was important as we had been advised the day before that there were only three unsold first class tickets and it was first in line, gets the tickets. We needed to be up in the dark and cold morning at the railway station gates at least an hour before the gates were even open. The owner of the accommodation got up too, and ensured we were safely in a cab. We were first at the gates, were ushered into a waiting room and about half past 6, we got our first class tickets. The train left late - as does most transport in Peru but our seats were good except they faced backwards. There was a lounge car so we went there but were disappointed as they only sold strong coffee or pisco sours and the pisco they made was both way too sweet to drink more than one and way overpriced! But the open air section of the lounge car was great for viewing the county and meeting fellow passengers.
As a side note about pisco, it was the Spanish conquistadores that brought grape vines to South America, in order to make wine for their own consumption and export. The story goes that pisco came into being as a way to use leftover grapes that were undesirable for wine making. Pisco is technically a brandy, made by distilling fermented grape juice. There are many interesting cocktails made with pisco. So for your information, pisco has a high alcohol content (ranging from 60 to 100 proof – in Australia, most of our brandies are only 37.5%), however it tastes very smooth and many people enjoy it straight. However, you couldn’t compare it to a good Cognac from France! Pisco sours are notoriously quite strong. The basic recipe is egg white, 3 parts Pisco, sugar syrup and fresh lemon juice to taste and a dash of Angostura Bitters.
There are four categories of pisco, made from seven varieties of grapes. Pisco puro is made only from black, non aromatic grapes, usually the quebranta variety. These were the original grapes brought over from Spain, which supposedly changed and adapted to their new environment, resulting in a unique taste. Pisco aromático is made from one of four more fruity and aromatic varieties: muscatél, italia, albilla, and torontél. Pisco acholado is made from a blend of a non aromatic grape and one or more of the aromatic varieties. Pisco mosto verde is made from partially fermented grapes. Pisco puro and pisco acholado are the varieties most often used to make pisco sours. Now you are all experts on pisco too! And you didn’t even need to take the tour!!! If you haven’t ever tried one, I suggest that next time you are in a good bar, have one and think of us. Cheers.
I did wander with my thoughts, but now, back to the train. It is known as the “Ferrocarril Central Andino” and the train line joining Lima to Huancayo, is the second highest railway in the world and the highest in South America. The train of the travels through the Andes and through the heart of Peru and is breathtaking but so is so many other parts of Peru that we have visited. It took 12 hours to get to Lima and travels to an altitude of 4,781 masl, goes through 69 tunnels and over 58 bridges and makes 6 zigzags.
Lima / Miraflores
We arrived in Lima about two hours late and on arrival at our hotel and were advised that our room had been given up to others. Not happy but we eventually were found a room but we had to argue to get it at the price we had been advised via email a few days earlier. It was an interesting colonial hotel with many chandeliers, 17 and 18th century paintings, many statues and on the roof by the terrace restaurant, 2 Macaws, another green parrot (which enjoyed eating our breakfast when-ever we weren’t watching), several pigeons and 4 turtles….. and doesn’t that remind you of the song “Twelve days of Christmas”?
After four days here we organised ourselves; checking out the transport system; buying rechargeable cards; getting our bearings; finding our bank; checking the sights we moved out to Miraflores by taxi. We arranged for the old lady on reception to negotiate our taxi and she did so for only S/.15. They would have tried S/.25 at least on us… Miraflores is an up-market coastal suburb of Lima, the capital of Peru. We had booked into a very nice one bedroom holiday rental apartment. We enjoyed 5 lovely weeks here. Living a nice western style life again, with two 42 inch LCD, flat screen TVs, a nice king-size bed, fully equipped kitchen, a lounge and dining room. From here I visited a cardiologist and had tests and discovered my cholesterol results were better than they were two years earlier. I also saw a man about my back pain and had some expensive ex-rays taken and the conclusion was (by me using Google to translate the report) that there existed a prominence presence at the back side (that does not mean I have a big ass) of the ring of the atlas, which deforms the top platform of the body axis. - Signs of moderately advanced degenerative cervical spine discartropatia. However, I didn’t have enough confidence with the bloke I was seeing so stopped seeing him. I will live with the situation until I can find someone who can clearly explain what that all means and what I can do about it, or if there is anything that can be done?
While here we also had the time to jump through all the hoops to get our 6 month visas for Ecuador. This entailed; getting doctors to sign medical certificates to say that we were healthy enough to travel for the period; buying and providing inwards and out-going tickets (a small problem - as you can’t purchase bus tickets more than about six months in advance – so we will need to change our out-going tickets into Columbia later); current Police Clearance Certificates (PCC) from our countries; copies of current bank statements showing adequate funds for our time in country; copies of passports and the pages in and out showing the last time I was in Ecuador. It seemed difficult at first and we had anticipated the obtaining of our PCCs from Australia and France to be a problem; however both arrived just in time. Postage from Australia took 15 working days. They say 10 on their web site….
We also joined a social business networking group called InterNations. It is similar to Linkedin but with a more proactive social networking aspect to it. Met some great and interesting people from several countries and many different business areas and I must admit it inspired me to want to go back to work. Networking was one the most enjoyable sides to my business marketing. However, there is no need to – yet or maybe there is!
My current research on places to retire shows Australia is becoming more challenging for retirees. Who knows how the current and future Australian Governments are going to solve the problems of the reduced demand on our commodities; the relative high Aussie dollar (which is great for our travelling); the reduction of the countries competitiveness; the widening deficit of our GDP and increasing reliance on international financing and most importantly for us, the deterioration of Government revenues and the lowering of interest rates by the RBA have reduced my interest income and surely will increase our future taxation burden.
Naturally, too many retirees in the coming years will further result in a lowering or abolition of benefits. It may change the taxation and retirement rules and force me to change our current plans. More of a reason to stay self funded and not need to rely on or plan for any assistance in the future.
We socialized, wined and dined, walked the beach cliff line, watched the parachute gliders and enjoyed our time in Miraflores living the sort of tourist life most people do and then on the 3rd of June we hoped on a bus again and headed 200 kilometres north to uncharted territory (for us) along the coast of Peru to Barranca.
Barranca / Caral
Just 26 kilometres inland from Barranca is a small town of Caral which is why we made this our destination as it is the most ancient city of the Americas, build about the same time as the pyramids in Egypt. It is a well-studied site of the Caral civilization or Norte Chico civilization. Caral was inhabited between roughly 2600 BC and 2000 BC enclosing an area of more than 60 hectares. Caral was described by its excavators as one of the oldest urban centre in the Americas. Accommodating more than 3,000 inhabitants, it is the best studied and one of the largest Norte Chico sites known.
Caral was a thriving metropolis at roughly the same time that Egypt's great pyramids were being built. The main pyramid covers an area nearly the size of four foot-ball fields and is 18 m tall. Caral is the largest recorded site in the Andean region with dates older than 2000 BC and appears to be the model for the urban design adopted by Andean civilizations that rose and fell over the span of four millennia. It is believed that Caral may answer questions about the origins of Andean civilizations and the development of the first cities. One of the most interesting finds that I learnt about, was that there were no trace of warfare of any kind found at Caral: no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. The Archaeologists and excavators findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. There are 19 other pyramid complexes scattered across the 35 square mile (80 km²) area of the Supe Valley. However, only a very small part of this find is uncovered due to lack of funds. It will be great to go back in 20 or 30 years and take a look again.
Two days later on Thursday the 5th of June we were in the central north mountain regions and in the city of Huaraz. Surrounded by snow capped mountains but enjoying spring-like days we did just the one tour to Yungay and into the Huascaran National Park and visited a beautiful mountain lagoon filled from the melting of glacier waters and the site of the old village of Yungay, where in 1970, most of its inhabitants where killed by an earthquake and the following landslide from the nearby mountain. This was known as the Ancash earthquake or the Great Peruvian Earthquake. It was an undersea earthquake that occurred on May 31 of that year. Combined with a resultant landslide, it was the worst catastrophic natural disaster ever recorded in the history of Peru. Due to the large amounts of snow and ice included in the landslide and it is estimated 100,000 fatalities (74,000 people dead and 25,600 missing – I think buried and their bodies never recovered). It is also considered to be the world's deadliest avalanche. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 35 km off the coast of Casma and Chimbote on the Pacific Ocean. It had a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale
The quake destabilized the northern wall of Mount Huascarán, causing a rock, ice and snow avalanche and burying the towns of Yungay and Ranrahirca. The avalanche started as a sliding mass of glacial ice and rock about 3,000 feet (910 m) wide and one mile (1.6 km) long. It advanced about 11 miles (18 km) to the village of Yungay at an estimated average speed of 280 to 335 km per hour. The fast-moving mass picked up glacial deposits and by the time it reached Yungay, it is estimated to have consisted of about 80 million cubic meters (80,000,000 m³) of water, mud, and rocks.
While in Huaraz, we met a fellow traveler, Douglas from Canada who has been on the road for a long time and who was able to show me how to down-load movies, TV series, books and songs, etc., from the internet. So now we have a collection of books, music and movies to read, listen and watch whenever we feel the need. We also found a great French restaurant with French wine so enjoyed a lovely – not too expensive “French night” in Peru with crepes and a four cheese fondue.
After a week in Huaraz we headed to Chimbote, back on the coast. However, our accommodation was not actually on the beach. We couldn’t find a tourist office so we visited the local city council and found the manager of the tourist section and after some time on the computer he found us 5 places that we maybe should visit. The department Manager tried very hard searching the web and printing out information, but nothing that he provided, was of interest to us. So we relaxed for six days, watched some movies on the TV and some we had downloaded to the laptop and enjoyed the best spaghetti I had eaten in Peru. Then it was on the road again.
Trujillo / Huanchaco / Chan Chan
On Wednesday the 18th of June, we headed 130 kilometres further north. This time to Trujillo and the little coastal town know as Huanchaco which we had read about as being a great beach-side village. The taxi driver took us to “his” hostal and not the one we had asked to be taken too or were planning on going to but as we hadn’t booked and it was cheaper and looked okay, we agreed and stayed two nights. It was getting late also.
Next day we checked out the place we had found on the web and other places in the main street overlooking the ocean and found a great place called the Sunset Hospedaje for only $A27 per night (S/.500 weekly rate). Not cheap by our usual standards but good value for the location. So we stayed a week just enjoying the place. Every afternoon at sunset, we would sit on the balcony, enjoy the view and drink a nice wine or a few cold beers and watch the sun disappear. We also wandered around the city of Trujillo and saw some really fantastic old colonial buildings. Unfortunately, it is impossible to show just one photo to impress. But maybe one day we will meet again and if you are interested I can show them. I have thousands of photos.
We also visited the mud city of Chan Chan which is the largest adobe city in the world and was built around AD 850. It lasted until its conquest by the Inca Empire in AD 1470. It was the imperial capital where 30,000 people lived.
Also near here just the other side of Trujillo is the adobe brick temple called Huacas del Sol. The Huaca del Sol is an adobe brick temple built by the Moche civilization (100 AD to 800 AD). The temple is one of several ruins found near the volcanic peak of Cerro Blanco, in the coastal desert near Trujillo at the Moche Valley. The other major ruin at the site is the nearby Huaca de la Luna, a better-preserved but smaller temple.
By 450 AD, eight different stages of construction had been completed on the Huaca del Sol. The technique was additive; new layers of brick were laid directly on top of the old, hence large quantities of bricks were required for the construction. Archeologists have estimated that the Huaca del Sol was composed of over 130 million adobe bricks and was the largest pre-Columbian adobe structure built in the Americas. The number of different makers' marks on the bricks suggests that over a hundred different communities contributed bricks to the construction of the Huacas.
The Huaca del Sol was composed of four main levels. The structure was expanded and rebuilt by different rulers over the course of time. It is believed to have originally been about 50 meters in height and 340m. by 160 m. at the base. Located at the center of the Moche capital city, the temple appears to have been used for ritual, ceremonial activities and as a royal residence and burial chambers. Archaeological evidence attests to these functions.
During the Spanish occupation of Peru in the early 17th century, colonists redirected the waters of the Moche River to run past the base of the Huaca del Sol in order to facilitate the looting of gold artifacts from the temple. The operation of the hydraulic mine greatly damaged the place. In total, approximately two-thirds of the structure has been lost to erosion and such looting. The remaining structure stands at a height of 41 meters (135 feet). Still, to actually see the craftsmanship was and realize it was completed years ago is amazing.
On Friday the 27th of June we decided it was time leave our wonderful coastal accommodation and to go and visit Cajamarca, a distance of 227 klms. The bus departed at 10am and arrived just before 6pm. As we left the terminal and about to look for a taxi to our preferred hostal we were approached by a woman who handed me the card of her hostal. When Valerie was along side we asked for more information and she showed her folder with photos.
The “Hostal Danoba” was 3 stars and normally they are out of our budget but as she would pay for the taxi to take us there to have a look, we did so - and she had informed us the special price was only S/.50 (A$19). It looked good and had all we wanted, so we stayed. It was a little bit out from the main square but a 20-25 minute walk was always good to get us ready for some lunch. The motos cost about S/.2.50 to S/.3 to get to the centre. During our stay we were invited to join the owners for dinner, which was lovely. We were going to share some wine or beer with them the following night but they informed Valerie that they didn’t drink. It was and enjoyable exchange.
While we were here, we first took a local bus and visited some of the grave sites of the ancient “necropolis”. There are two sites and we visited the one less visited. They still stand majestic, bearing testimony to the past grandeur of the people of Cajamarca, a valley nested in the highlands of northern Peru. The date of their construction is uncertain; some ceramic pieces have been dated to 1400 B.C. It was a vast necropolis, carved out of the surrounding rocky hill, painstakingly and with amazing precision, to house the remains of the dead of Cajamarca.
Very little is known about this curious archaeological wonder or about its builders, the Cajamarcas, who used it over a period of over 2,000 years. The Cajamarcas preceded the Incas, who moved into the valley around 1240 A.D. Atahualpa, the last Inca, was at the Royal Baths of Cajamarca, within a few miles of Otuzco, when the Conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived in the year 1532 to conquer the Inca Empire. However, we visited the Ventanillas de Combayo the most ancient cemetery in all of Peru, located in the hill of San Cristóbal, 40 kilometres from Cajamarca.
It was a bit of a challenge trying to find the right location to catch our local bus to take us the 40 kilometres but again a local woman came to our assistance and walked around asking several people where our bus departed from. Finally, we found the place but would have to wait for 40 minutes so time for a haircut. Valerie explained carefully to the young woman as to what I wanted done and then watched her very carefully. She did a great job at only S/.5, which is less than A$2. Then at just after 11 o’clock our loaded combi bus departed. We traveled out past the old Baths of the Incas and out to the windows. We visited a site that is further out and less touristy than the one most visited and it was very rewarding. One it was free and there were no other tourist. However, on asking directions of a local, grazing his cattle, he did say we had to pay him an entrance fee. Not being previously informed of this and as there was no office, I pretended I didn’t understand and he didn’t get one and we found our own way across the fields and climbed up to have a close look. We took our few photos and then came back down to the road and waited for a bus going back into Cajamarca. We only waited about 10 minutes and were on our way back.
The following day we just wandered around the town looking at places, tasting the local cheeses and trying some of the local sweets, finding a place to buy wine of our liking and arranging a tour to the Cumbemayo Archeological site.
The Cumbemayo Archeological complex on a tour took us to a site that was only discovered in 1937 and is surrounded by an interesting stone forest that seems to mimic the silhouettes of pious friars. There was also a cliff that looked like a giant human head and caves, which included cave carvings or petroglyphs. However, one of the most interesting items at this site was the Aqueducts (1000 B.C.), a unique work of hydraulic engineering.
The Cajamarca people lived here then, and in this arid land they worshipped the water that brought life. The hills are made of porous volcanic rock which stores water in the rainy season, meting it out in the dry so that water always flowed in the channels that the ancients and their modern-day descendents cut into the stone. The Cajamarca constructed and carved for 20 km through solid stone, aqueducts and channels to bring water from Cumbe Mayo to the Cajamarca Valley, all cut with precision from solid stone or built skillfully out of stone blocks, the diverting water that once would have run west into the Pacific, east over the continental divide to irrigate the Cajamarca Valley. To see this workmanship was amazing too!
On the forth of July we caught another very early bus to Chachapoyas.
Chachapoyas / Kuelap
Chachapoyas is a city in northern Peru at an elevation of 2,235. The city has a population of approximately 20,000 people. Situated in the mountains far from the Peruvian coast, Chachapoyas remains fairly isolated from other regions of Peru and is unique due to it having over 4,500 balconies on its Spanish Colonial and Republican mansions. Hikers and adventurers visit the Chachapoya region, as it is claimed that hidden in its high-altitude cloud forests, there are still vast zones of little-explored archaeological treasures. Although the ravages of weather and time, as well as more recent attentions of grave robbers and treasure seekers, have caused damage to many of the ruins, some have survived remarkably well. Kuélap is by far the most famous of these archaeological sites, though dozens of other ruins lie besieged by jungle and make for tempestuous exploration
The bus from Cajamarca takes 12 hours due to the difficult and winding roads. It is a dirt road so it is almost impossible to travel during the rainy season.
The city was founded on September 5, 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Alonso de Alvarado "and his twenty". Local agriculture includes sugar cane, orchids and coffee growing.
On the bus we met a young Argentinean girl who had heard of a hostel so we went with her and booked into the “Hostal Nunurco”. It was good and we enjoyed cooking our steamed veggies and a very large pot of thick vegetable soup which was shared with new friends and the owners. Naturally, a nice Chillan wine as well.
Next day we endured a hard 5 hours walking thought the tropical jungle covered mountains to see the “Gocta” falls. The walk was on a muddy and hilly trail through very thick but beautiful and spectacular jungle. On the way we crossed a swing bridge and two old buildings that the locals used to extract the juice from sugar cane to make their rum. There were also two sheltered rest stops and a small shop where you could purchase drinks and even coco leaves, which Valerie purchased on the return trip to help with the walking and give her more energy.
These falls are the 3rd highest in Peru at 771 metres but only the 16th highest in the world. Still, they were great to see. However, we didn't see any of the toucans, monkeys, pumas or the Andean cock-of -the-rocks that the tourist promotion booklets mention. So I was a little disappointed.
We intend to visit Angel Falls in Venezuela early next year as they are the highest in the world at 979 metres, just 208 metres higher. However, it was very hard to get a great photo shot when close up and even though they look fantastic to view with your own eyes, when looking at the photos later they never seem quite as impressive.
Our next tour was to the fortress of Kuelap. This place consists of massive exterior stone walls containing more than four hundred buildings. The structure, situated on a ridge overlooking the Utcubamba Valley is roughly 600 meters in length and 110 meters in width. It could have been built to defend against the Huari or other hostile peoples. However, evidence of these hostile groups at the site is minimal. Radiocarbon dating samples show that construction of the structures started in the 6th century AD and occupied until the Early Colonial period (1532-1570).
The ruins of Kuelap are located at the summit of a hill that rises on the left bank of the Utcubamba River Access to Kuelap is gained via El Tingo, a town at approximately 1800m above sea level.
The monumental ruins of Kuelap are situated at 3000 metres above sea level. Judging from its sheer size, Kuelap's construction required considerable effort, rivalling or surpassing in size other archaeological structures in the Americas. The structure is almost 600 metres in length and its walls rise up to 19 metres in height.
There are multiple levels or platforms within the complex. Because of its extension, these flat elevations support about 400 constructions, most of them cylindrical. From them, only the bases now remain. In some cases, there are decorated walls with friezes of symbolic content that, in general, seem to evoke eyes and birds that take the form of a letter V in a chain.
Remains of ancient buildings in Kuelap.
The first level is accessed by three entrances, two located on the east or principal frontage, the third placed on the western wall.
The best preserved entrance, and probably the principal one, is located in the southern side of the fort. It is 3 metres wide at its base and is flanked by high walls, resembling an alleyway. This narrows sharply as it rises, culminating in a space large enough for one person to enter, forming the shape of a slice of pie. Scholars believe this entrance was defensive in nature as only one of any opposing army could enter at any time.
There are other aspects which merit consideration, including the colossal construction of Kuelap and the advanced engineering required to provide a sophisticated system of rainwater drainage and storage.
Regarding the function that Kuelap had, there is not yet a completely satisfactory response. Popularly it is thought of as a "fortress", because of its location and the high walls which support its primary level.
The high walls that cover the outer surfaces of the platform, and the tightness of the access to the city in its final stretch, suggest that the monument of Kuelap could be constructed as having a defensive character, or at least that it provided a refuge that was protected against intruders. However, to date really very little archeological research has been undertaken on this site. Again, I feel this will be a great site to re-visit in 20 or more years, when they have undertaken further excavation and reconstructed a bit more to show how it is thought that the people lived in this environment during the period of it’s occupancy.
Chiclayo / Lambayeque
On Wednesday the 9th of July we caught up with more emails and watched the semi final of the world cup between Argentina and Holland while we waited for our “Civa” bus to depart. We departed Chachapoyas for Chiclayo (S/.30 each –semi cama) at 6:15pm, so we were anticipating a cold night. However, it started out that way but didn’t get as cold as we expected as I needed to shed clothes during the night. We arrived in Chiclayo at about 4:30am and as not to be charged for an extra night’s accommodation, we waited in the terminal until about 6:30 before we walked out and walked our way about 7 blocks to a hostal just after 7am. Booked in, showered and went to bed. In the afternoon we checked out the plaza and found “I peru” the countries very efficient and helpful tourist office, (they were often our first point of call in every large town or city as they are extremely efficient and helpful) to see what there was to do and how we could best do it without using tourist agencies. We walked around taking in all the old buildings and some fantastic ones.
Here we visited the Museum of the Royal tombs of Sipan in Lambayeque. It houses the gold, silver and copper ornaments found in the tombs of the highest ranking Moche dignitaries. Also, life-sized models of the actual tombs and the mummified bodies are displayed really well but unfortunately, although it houses lots of information all the information is in Spanish and no photography is allowed. I was disappointed that in such a new museum, they would not include information in English as well. It defies logic in my opinion.
The hostal organsied an early breakfast for 6:15 and we caught out taxi 6:30 t get to the bus terminal for a 7am departure to Talara.
Talara / Lobitos
We arrived in Talara and immediately took a moto taxi to Lobitos, a beach side village that I had read about. I had read that this place was an old oil field and had fantastic surfing waves and some Aussie surfer said that in the future this place could be a Mecca for surfers from all over the world! Well, it was a dump! No real waves the day we arrived and walked around the place and didn’t like it. We left Lobitos after only the one night as it had nothing going for it, except its isolation.
We had checked in to the place where the moto driver took us to; (a surfers place) but soon found a restaurant and enjoyed our late lunch and watched the final of the World Cup. After the game we went for a longer walk around the village looking for better accommodation but there was none to be found that was at a reasonable price or standard. The village also had no place where would be able to buy wine or any other supplies either. The place we were in provided no blanket and we were cold during the night. In the early morning local government wake up the village with their very loud speakers and the Peruvian national anthem and with a flag raising ceremony in the square (7:30 – is early when you don’t get a good, nights sleep). I think the speakers were just on the roof of our room!!!! Apparently this happens once a week, every Monday morning and you guessed it – it was Monday morning.
Anyway we got up, had our shower, packed and walked down the street to have some breakfast. We enquired about the available transport to get us back into Talara so we could take another bus further north. After learning what we needed to know, we went back to our accommodation, checked out and walked down the street to find a combi. It wasn’t long and we were at the bus terminal in Talara and buying our tickets to Mancora.
We arrived in Mancora about three hours later and there were the moto drivers all touting for us to go with them, however, one had a map of the area and lots of accommodation brochures and quoted the prices and said for S/.5 he would take us to as many places as we liked until we found one suitable? (Naturally, he was going to get our little payment and a commission from the hostal where we went! We were taken to two at S/.50 each per night but then we arrived at Mama Sirena’s which was very nice but double the price. We decided it would be worth it. A week later we enquired about extending our stay but they wanted US$200 per night for the period during the oncoming festival period. So we checked out most of the other accommodation on town.
While here we took a bus out to a nearby beach town 15 klms south called Los Organos to check out the facilities and accommodation but we found it old and very tired and with little infrastructure to make it a holiday destination for us.
Each day while at Mama Sirena’s, we ensured that we lay by the pool for at least an hour to get our daily dose of vitamin D. One must look after their health. We tried to then go visit the pool in the late afternoon too, to endure that French custom of having “an aperitif” was maintained. Not everyday in South America that we were able to live such a life so when able to, we did try to make up for it.
La Casa de Sebes, Mancora
We moved over to La Casa de Sebas on the 21st of July, just in time for Valerie’s birthday on the 22nd. It was just a walk of only 100 metres so no problem. However, the price was much better as we were entering into Peru’s “Fiesta Patrias” (National day holiday – like ‘Australia Day’ but for 3 days of continuous partying, drinking and dancing) which is celebrated all over Peru. Last year we were in Ccaranacc for it and we had hardly any sleep for 4 days.
The 22nd of July started great with a birthday call from Australia from our good mate Phil, even though Valerie had already received birthday wishes via Facebook and the emails the night before.
We had a late breakfast on the veranda, followed by Skype calls from/to Australia and France before we went for a walk along the beach. Had a lovely Strawberry and banana smoothie on the beach and then walked a bit more before turning around and going back to our room to have a nice cool Chilean, ‘Frontera’ Sauvignon Blanc and listening to an Argentinean guitarist practice his Bob Dylan and other nice music that I don’t recall. However, tragedy struck me. I had just topped up our wine glasses and put the empty bottle away; sat back into my cane chair and casually put my arm over the side of the chair to pick up my glass, but instead of picking it up from the stem, I foolishly closed my fingers and thumb around the top of the glass intending to lift it to my lap before changing to a drinking hold and it slipped out of my grip and shattered on the concrete. Valerie, being the angel, that she is, allowed me to share her glass till it was empty. Time to buy another glass, but was this going to be possible in this little beachside town? It was and we still have two but not a matching pair…..
Then, at about 3:30 we walked up to the main street to the “Saxsay Fusion” restaurant for another great curry lunch. Then in the late afternoon, after a little siesta, it was time for strawberries and champagne and cheese and biscuits.
The next 13 days were just relaxing, watching movies and enjoying more of the warm weather, sunset walks along the beach, enjoying more of the curries at the Saxsay Fusion, vegetarian meals at a local vegetarian restaurant and visiting the Pointless backpackers for lunch hamburgers and happy hour beers. The only downside was that each day there was a coolish sea breeze blowing most of the day.
On the 28th of July we took a collectivo to Punta Sal, another nearby beach resort town just to check it out.. I took lots of photos as some of the beach houses were very nice and worth dreaming about. The beach was nice, not too many people. We had lunch and walked back to the highway to catch our return bus. The next few days were just relaxing with long walks along the beach, wine and sunsets. Just enjoying life and relaxing
On the 2nd of August it was time to be on the road again so catch a Moto taxi to the bus office to on our way to Guayaquil, Ecuador.
More of our adventures and travels to come from Ecuador in the future…. Cheers