Situated just below the city of Tumbes, and the Ecuadorian border, Máncora is Peru's biggest (and only significant) beach resort. The beach here isn't quite up to Australian standards: but after more than 4 months without seeing a beach at all, it's pretty good! Máncora is warm all year round (even pretty warm at night), has a plethora of sprawling places to sleep and to eat, and has a party scene that rages all night, every night. Perfect place to relax, after some hard adventuring in the mountains.
Since Máncora is only 2 hours south of Tumbes (Peru's northernmost major town), you would have thought that it would be fairly easy to find some transport from one to the other. But apparently, on Sunday afternoon, this is not the case. Einat and I ended up waiting over an hour for a combi, and even then, we only just managed to squeeze onto one (it was already ridiculously overcrowded, and we just made it worse). There were also no afternoon buses to be found. Anyway, at least we eventually made it out of this funny little beach resort town, and got to Tumbes, which is the gateway to Ecuador.
Although I have no particular problem with my lodging at Sol y Mar, I have been persuaded to change the hostel that I'm staying at, for tonight (my final night) here in Máncora. The ever-indecisive Einat can't stand the unreliable water and the crowded little dorm of Sol y Mar any longer; and she's convinced a Canadian girl called Erin, and myself, to come with her to the HI down the road. Personally, I really couldn't be bothered moving for one night; but then again, I couldn't be bothered arguing with Einat either. This place is much nicer, but it's a bit more expensive as well.
I met Einat yesterday morning, when I first arrived at Sol y Mar, here in Máncora. She's a very unique Israeli, in some ways: she lived in Argentina for three years, during high school (with her family), so she speaks fluent Spanish, and she sounds like an Argentinean; she also travels alone. In other ways, she's not so unique: ultra-tight with money, and happy to travel really raw, to save a few shekalim. She's nice, but her complete and utter indecisiveness, coupled with her stinginess, made it hard to put up with her for more than a day or two.
Along with Einat, and some Argentino hippie friends of hers, I hung out on the beach all night tonight in Máncora, lying by a bonfire. There was a big bonfire going on at the busy end of the beach — just outside Sol y Mar — but we made our own, a lot further up, away from the big crowds. Was a bit cold, but the fire kept us warm enough (the rum helped as well :P). I fell asleep when the hippies started singing entire albums of Argentinean songs. Not a bad night, really, if a bit weird.
What can I say, except "the beach: it's good to be back"? :P
I made the most of my first day at the beach, after four beachless months in South America, in the best way possible. By doing not very much. Read a book. Met some girls. Swam in the ocean. Sunbaked all afternoon. Ate a mountain of delicious ceviche (raw seafood, soaked in lemon juice — you can find it every 5 metres or so, here in Máncora). Slept a bit. As we say back home (and by "we", I have no idea who I'm referring to — probably very few people), I chillaxed. Perfect way to end my time in Peru. Stuff the mountains. I'm sitting on the beach this weekend.
Look, this place ain't the bee's knees. The rooms are packed and are abysmal; the staff couldn't give a rat's about you; and the prices aren't amazing. But hey: it's literally on the beach; it's surrounded by bars, restaurants, and cafés; and you're guaranteed to meet a tonne of other backpackers here. Plus, I don't believe there is any other actual dormitory accommodation around here. Oh yeah, and it has a nice pool and poolside lounge area. So go on, give Sol y Mar a try: everyone else has.
My bus this evening left Chiclayo at 10pm, and pulled in to the sandy shores of the beach resort town of Máncora at about 3am. Seems like this is about the best possible time to get in — it's that kind of a place. The entire town was pumping full-volume with discos, clubs, and bars. Drunk gringos and sleazy locals everywhere. Girls squealing, hips grinding, beers clinking. Pity that I was too buggered from my bus journey to get into it. I checked into a budget dorm at Sol y Mar (yep, front desk open and kicking at this time), downed two shots of vodka, and crashed until the morning.