The two weeks we spent in Peru after leaving Cusco were laid back, very relaxing and pretty uneventful. After treating ourselves to a fancy night bus to Lima (not as fancy as an Argentinian bus, but pretty good nonetheless), we arrived in the Peruvian capital and took a taxi to Miraflores. Lima has a reputation for being a city full of scam artists and thieves, but the area where we stayed was actually quite nice and had a great vibe on the streets for Halloween night. The Limians really put a big effort into Halloween, and the parks in Miraflores were full of kids in fancy dress and old people waltzing to a live band and choir. There was supposed to be a party in the Flying Dog hostel where we stayed, but the bar was empty when we went in so we went back to the common area and played cards with some of the other folks staying there (and learned how to play Whist from an Irish lad in the process). The next day was spent strolling around a fancy shopping center built into a cliff at the seafront and watching the paragliders trying to take off – paragliding is one of the big attractions in Lima but the wind wasn´t up to it when we were there. At one stage we were outside a cinema looking at the listings when what felt like a bomb going off sent everybody legging it in every direction – it turned out to be a small earthquake 43 kms away that registered 4.5 on the Richter scale, but apparently these are fairly common in Peru! Later in the evening, we stocked up on fancy goods in a place very like Donnybrook Fair and had our tea in the hostel. The Flying Dog was nice (and has a good DVD collection!) but very expensive at 75 soles a night for the two of us (nearly 20 euro!). The following day we took a bus to Trujillo, a small city eight hours north and headed straight to Huanchaco, a beach town about 20 minutes further.
Huanchaco sucked us in. It was cheap, pretty and had good surf so instead of spending a day or two there as planned, we spent a week and would heartily recommend it to anyone looking to do very little (or surf) for a few days and save some money in the process. We got a double room in La Casa Suiza for 30 soles (it was actually a triple room but we had it to ourselves) and had a decent two-course dinner every day with a fresh fruit juice in the My Friend hostal down the road for 6 soles (about 1.50 euro). The town has lots of places to rent surfing gear and there are two areas to surf, depending on how much of a challenge you`re looking for! There´s a shaper from Huanchaco called Yenth Ccora who supplies most of South America’s homegrown boards. He’s based across the road from the pier and rents his boards and decent suits and boots for about 20 soles per day (a fiver). The locals claim that they were the first people ever to ride waves (something the Hawaiians might have a thing or two to say about) but they have been doing it for years on their little reed fishing boats the town is famous for. Although the weather wasn`t great – it was like a grey summery day in Ireland for most of the time that we were there – and the water was frigid, it was nice to be by the beach for a week (and beside a great cafe called Yurac Wasi that made great lattes and mochas, a bit of a rarity in small town Peru!). We spent a lot of time drinking coffee and playing cards!
It was by coincidence that our good friend Libby picked Trujillo (the next town over) to spend six months volunteering and she landed in just a day after we did. We met up a couple of times and had one of our few wild nights out in the local Disco :-) It took a full day to recover, the old bodies aren´t able to take as much abuse as they used to! After a week in Huanchaco, we decided we should get moving again and took a bus a few hours up the coast to the small town of Chicama.
Chicama has very little in it to draw people there (and its a little bit away from the main road but still very easy to get to), but if you´re into surfing, whether doing it or watching it, you should pay it a visit – it has what`s supposedly the longest left-hand break in the world (even longer than the other longest left in the world I’d visited at Raglan!). I don`t know who measures these things or just how long it is, but it`s loooong. There are a few places to stay, but most people head for the El Hombre hostal which overlooks part of the break and is the original lodging place for travelling surfers. When we got there we only met about three other gringos, so you pretty much have the place to yourself. Of course I rented me a board and suit and attempted to surf it, but I found it hard to catch anything that lasted longer than a few seconds. When I went out there was no-one else around, so I was a little wary about going out far where the good waves start (the currents are pretty strong and I ended up on the only set of rocks on the beach a number of times!). It was evening time and the winds were quite strong, so after about an hour of trying I gave up. The next morning there was no wind and a few people out, but we had a bus to catch so I decided not to get in, a regret that stayed on my mind for a few days afterwards! Maybe next time ;-)
An uncomfortable three bus journeys and about eleven hours after leaving Chicama, we arrived at our final Peruvian destination, Mancora. Mancora is about three hours south of the Ecuadorian border on the north-east coast of Peru and is very different from the other towns we’d been in that both the weather and the sea were nice and warm! We booked into the new Loki Mancora hostel, but the dorm we ended up in had two rich Limian bitches it it who talked incessantly, wouldn’t speak to us at all and stank the place out with smoke so that was a bit crap. Apart from that, the hostel was great if a bit pricey – it was just like somewhere you´d go for a weeks holiday in the Canaries (but for 6 euro a night each, which was overpriced for Peru). I`m in two minds about super-hostels like Loki, they´re a lot like the Starbucks of the hostel world – they`re expensive for what they are, have a drastic effect on other local businesses and are attract quite a lot of posers :-) I don´t think we´re going to stay in a hostel like it again, even though they have their good points. We met some great people in Mancora (including Mike and Sinead, hi guys!) and had some good craic in Loki`s carpark-like bar. One of the nights we attempted to go up to a full moon party in another super-hostel up the road (the Point), but they wouldn`t let anymore people in when we arrived so we ended up finding a mixed bag of South and Central Americans having a bonfire in a yard just off the beach. Once we’d finished entertaining them with Irish songs and drinking their rum, we decided that we should go home.
After four days of eating, drinking and a little bit of surfing, we had enough of Mancora and left for the last country we`d be visiting in South America – Ecuador.