The place where we stayed in Vichayito (Mókala bungalows) was actually closer to a village called Órganos than to the city of Máncora.
Máncora has many hostels, restaurants, internet cafés, laundry shops, souvenirs shops and other services for visitors, whereas Órganos seemed like a sleepy little fishing village very little touched by tourism.
We were exploring it by walking, checking out pastel coloured houses, fishing boats and tiny hole-in-a-wall cevicherias.
Manos Azules - Blue hands: campain to keep the beach clean
Surf school door decoration, Órganos
Tasting local ceviche
pastel colours in Órganos
Fishing boats: view from a seafood restaurant
On my previous trip to Máncora back in 2005, I was writing an article on Peruvian food to a Finnish travel magazine Matkaopaslehti.
One of the local persons who featured in that article was Herman Bari who was at that time selling black conch ceviche from his mobile food stand.
This time in Máncora we met Herman again.
His business had grown bigger: he had a proper restaurant now, called 'Cevicheria Hermes'.
When we came in, it was already late for lunch time, but the place was packed with locals and seems like tourists had found it too.
Unfortunately, the prices had gone up and the portions smaller, but his ceviche was still worth waiting. Grilled mero (grouper fish) with rice was delicious too.
And this is how the black conch ceviche looks like when it's ready...
And here's our drinks:
Photos: © Juan Martin Cabrejos
In every paradise there is always a snake. Otherwise everything would be too perfect.
On our second night in Vichayito, I received an unwanted and unexpected visitor: Mister Vomit.And no, it is not related to that one mojito I had on my first night, I need more than that to...you know ;) So I had clearly eaten something I should not have eaten. But what could it be? My boyfriend ate exactly the same things, except...those white beans! In the North, ceviche is served with white beans and when we had lunch in Órganos village, I ate the beans of both of us. Fatal mistake!Next day I was feeling quite weak, but we head to Máncora city to get something to eat. I was not hungry at all, but forced myself to drink some coconut water and a Gatorade to replace all the salts and minerals I lost during that nightmarish night.In general, there is no better and faster cure from any disease than shopping. It was a good time to replace that Billabong "fairy hat" I bought last year in Portugal with something more local. So we went to that hippieless hippie market I mentionned in my previous post to have a look.
This one would be very "fairy 2012"...
...but I want a traditional norteño hat!
A hat was a must, because I did not want my scalp roasted after all the other horrors I had to go through. The sun in the North is merciless!
With the energy I got from shopping I was able to swallow some fish and rice and we made it to the Máncora beach.
By the bits and pieces of conversations I heard in town and on the beach, I concluded that I had not been the only victim of those evil beans!
New hat immediately tested at Máncora beach
Photos © Juan Martin Cabrejos
In the evening we left the Vichayito beach paradise to discover what Máncora has to offer by night these days.
Bumpy ride with a mototaxi in Máncora
Mototaxi is THE vehicle for moving around in this zone. It is not the most comfortable, and it is not the most reliable either: you have to first catch one, then negotiate the price and when finally in, just cross your fingers that there will be not too much water on the road or other elements of nature that can provoce unexpected technical problems. Apart from that, it is a fun way to move around!
Shops and the "hippie market" (with not so many hippies around these days...) in Máncora are open until 11pm or so, so you can have a look before or after dinner.
Hippie market without hippies
Souvenir shop, Máncora
Máncora by night
jam session in a local bar, Máncora
As we walked by, I heard some rhytmic music from a small hole-in-a-wall bar.
Looked like there was a jam session going on.
A gringa chola like me is of course fascinated by the idea of listening to some "authentic" local tunes in an even more local setting, so I insisted we would pop in for a beer. So we did.
As soon as we stepped in, we quickly figured that the place was a gathering place for local low life.
Dress code: jail tattoos for men, very tight clothing for women.
"No guns allowed" sign on the wall did not seem to have much impact.
But hey: never mind the crowd, the music was good and worth spending couple of soles. This was, after all, our only live concert in Máncora...
After some music for the soul, it was time to feed the body.
We went to have dinner in El Mero Murique and I finally got the mojito I had been waiting for the whole day. There is no holiday without mojito. No, no. That's impossible.
Happy with my mojito
Causa with shrimps for a starter
Octopus and tuna for the main course
The city of Máncora had changed quite a bit since my last visit in 2005, and not only in a positive way. Sure, you find more services now, but it had become a little bit too touristic to my taste, and I think it was much better option to stay further from the main beach, more towards Órganos village.
There, just five minutes walk from Mokala bungalow resort where we stayed we found this very quiet beach...
Vichayito beach, Órganos, Máncora
Only an ice cream man passing by every now and then...
Or some horses...
But most of the time...nobody.
At Los Organos bus station Freddy was waiting for us with his red Wolkswagen beatle to take us to our destination: Vichayito beach near Máncora!
On our way to Mokala bungalows
Last time I visited Máncora in 2005 Freddy and his wife Monica had just started onstructing what has now became Mokala bungalows.
The place has rooms and bungalows to rent, a pool area to chill out, restaurant and bar and very calm and beautiful Vichayito beach within five minutes walk.
Perfect place to relax for some days while visiting Máncora!
The pool area
View from the room
Some seafood & fish ceviche by the pool
Now, let's go to see the beach! And cheers to a holiday!
They say that the destination is not important, the journey itself is. I only partly agree. After not-so-well slept night in the bus on our way to Máncora, getting soon to the destination started to feel more and more important. But still, the scenery is by far the best part of travelling by land, so I tried to make most out of it.
The best part started after crossing Puente Sullana bridge, when the dry desert scenery changed into something more green and tropical, with palm trees and houses painted in pastel colours.
We passed a sign saying that Ecuador is 66 kilometers away, and many moto taxis and people selling coconuts at the both sides of the road. Wild horses, white butterflies and endless sugar cane fields.
We also passed the village of Cabo Blanco, where Ernest Hemingway was fishing marlin while The Old Man and the Sea motion picture was filmed in the same location. Surfers and bodyboarders appreciate this spot for its waves.
20 hours bus ride sounds insane, but actually it went quite fast. There was a wifi in the bus, although the connection went off time to time. They showed movies on television and we had the front row places at the second floor with an excellent view and more space for legs.
Dinner at Oltursa bus
Meals were included in the price of the ticket, and I was curious to get my first ever bus meal. Here on the left side you see le plat du jour chez Oltursa: beef with potatos and rice. This time I did not ask for a vegetarian plate, so not sure what it would have been.
I hardly could wait to see what was in the little dessert jar: There was....arroz con leche, milky rice pudding with cinnamon on top. Quite tasty, but I would have added some sugar. Summa summarum, seems like rice is an ingredient that particularly inspires the Oltursa chef at the moment.
Making myself comfortable at Oltursa bus
After dinner, it was time to lift my legs up, make myself comfortable and try to catch some sleep.
The aircondition was quite strong and I regretted at some point that I did not bring socks. The blanket they provided was warm though. Otherwise I have not much to complain about that bus ride and I would certainly travel with the same company again.
Came morning, it was breakfast time.
For breakfast we got a bun with ham and cheese inside, an industrial orange cake called 'Kékon' and peach juice (apple was the other option).
And coffee (Nescafé, what else?) or tea.
breakfast at Oltursa bus
The best part of the trip was the scenery when the sun was shining and we started to approach the destination.
More about that in my next post!
After the delay due to the crash with a sand truck, our bus was finally ready to hit the road and leave the greyish Lima towards the sunshine and beaches.
After some unexpected delay, finally sitting in a bus heading to the North.
The transport of choice became Oltursa bus company. I am expecting a 19-20 hours bus ride. It sounds like a long trip -it is a long trip - but we decided to travel by land. By plane, it would take about an hour.
So why bus? First of all, it is an ecological choice, and "eco" is going to be the theme of this trip (you will find out later why...).
Second reason is the price. LAN has good offers on flights in Peru -but only for Peruvians. Foreigners pay more than a double.
Third, the bus is a very comfortable choice. Lots of space for your legs, tv, wifi, blankets and pillows for sleeping and meals included (what kind of meals I don't know yet...but I guess anything can beat economy class inflight meals).
And last but least, as they say, you see so much more when you travel by land. We have not even left Lima yet and I have already seen a pickpocket in action, trying to snatch a woman't purse and then running away and shortly after that a truck full of sand hit our bus. Now we are stuck at the gas station waiting while the bus driver is solving things out with the truck driver.
Now, hopefully we'll be soon on the road!