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Mancora & Lobitos, Peru

Crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru was one of the easiest border crossings because it was in the middle of the night so it was just the people on this one bus, in this little building, which took about 20 minutes. They woke us up and then went back to sleep. We arrived in Mancora in the morning around 7am and I was pretty well rested from the night bus which was nice for once (had the two chairs to myself). I got a tuk tuk to my hostel which was this small Italian hostel/Italian pizzaria with not so many rooms and the owner was sitting in the dining room area drinking coffee (it was way too early to arrive but didn’t know what else to do). He told me my room would be ready soon and got me settled with Wifi and some coffee. I was able to check into my room around 11am and then walked around the town to get a SIM card and cash. I went to 3 different international ATMs and none of them would take my card. I spent about 3 hours trying to get cash and a SIM card which was very frustrating but this is part of the whole experience, nothing is easy. After giving up, I later found out that it was a Peruvian holiday (similar to the Fourth of July) the day before so that's why the ATMs probably ran out of money or had caused problems so I decided to deal with the cash later. I finally went to the beach to check it out and the water was really cold so I didn’t get in. I tried to find a surf shop to see if I could rent a board for the next day but didn’t seem like there were many along my walk so I stopped at this rooftop restaurant on the beach and got a papaya smoothie. On the way back I stopped at the hostel that the Israelis were staying at called the Point, and I asked how much it would be to rent a board and they quoted 35 soles which was a bit pricey in my opinion so I said I would decide based on the conditions in the morning. It was happy hour so I decided to get a couple beers with the Israelis and then we went to get pizza at my hostel which wasn’t the best but then went back to the Point to take advantage of more discounted drinks by playing beer pong and then headed to the real party at the Loki hostel (my first Loki experience-Loki is a chain party hostel all over South America). There was a theme that night so everyone was dressed up and drunk, dancing on the bar. It was fun to dance a little and play some games but I was getting tired and called it a night around 1am. I slept in and didn’t go surfing so I went to get breakfast and check the ATM but they still weren't working so just decided to hang out at the beach for a little and read. I felt like a run since I hadn’t gone surfing and went on a nice run around the beach and town and then met up with the Israelis for dinner. I got this yummy fish dish and we tried a few drinks and then went to Loki (they switched hostels) to play beer pong and catch the happy hour deals. We split a couple bottles of wine and I called it a night early, after walking with a couple guys from Madrid around the town. The vibe you get at Loki is all backpacker parties with lots of drinking drugs and dancing. During my time there, I met mostly Israelis but also Europeans. The next morning I went to get breakfast at this small cafe and it took forever to get food and then met up with the Israelis and we chilled and went to get sushi. I had to leave town that afternoon so I went to the beach to watch the sunset and say goodbye and then grabbed my bags and headed to the bus station. It was strange leaving the Israelis, especially the one I met in Banos as we spent about a week or so together and then I was back on my own again (so many pros and cons to being with others and then by yourself).

Since there was no direct bus to Lobitos, I had to go to Talara and then get a taxi to Lobitos. I arrived at Talara around 9pm and it was a shitty bus station. Thankfully there was a police man there that helped me find a safe taxi to my hostel which was 45 minutes away. The taxi he got me was a tuk tuk so it was an interesting drive because it was pitch black, driving on dirt sandy road, not knowing where I was going and it was cold with nothing around - was getting nervous since there wasn't service. When I arrived at the hostel around 10pm, I was thankful to see people awake hanging out and talking. I could tell it was a cool surf vibe hostel from the start. I got settled in my room which had a funky smell but it was big with a bathroom and that’s all I cared about. I had some time to do some research on my next destination so I sat outside on my computer doing some research and then the hostel hosts invited me to their bonfire. Thankfully there was this guy from Lima who spoke English, so we talked about surfing and our backgrounds a bit, and an Argentinian who was very inviting and funny, who I ended up meeting later in Buenos Aires. There was this other guy from Venezuela who was trying to take me down to the beach but I insisted I didn't want to (you have to be direct when traveling as a solo female). I went to bed after the bonfire and slept in because I needed the sleep. I had a nice breakfast sitting outside with the most beautiful view of the beach and surfers high up on this cliff. I went to get my wetsuit and board at this other hostel down on the beach and then headed out to surf for a few hours. It was getting crowded at this one point break with many families of all ages ranging from 6 to 60 years old so I waited my turn many times and then eventually went for some and it felt really nice getting back up again. After a while I was getting tired so I went in to get lunch. I relaxed and then did some yoga with the Lima guy and his girlfriend (who was also a yoga teacher) and then he brought me surfing at the other point break he was telling me about at the bonfire, Piscines. I was a little nervous but was excited at the same time and my longboard was super heavy so it was a workout walking it about 20 minutes down the beach. We arrived and there were already about 5 surfers out there. The waves were a lot bigger than the ones at the Lobitos point so I didn’t go for any at first, trying to get the lay of the land because there were many rocks nearby. There was this Canadian girl who gave me a few pointers since she could probably tell I was hesitating. I eventually went for some and caught a few. It was a pretty rough current but not too bad if you paddled away from the break. The Argentinian guy eventually joined as well and we all surfed until it got too dark. There was a photographer there, this sweet girl from Argentina who showed me some pictures she caught of me surfing so I told her I would come back tomorrow to get them. Within the first few minutes of my nice hot shower the electricity went out. I thought at first that it was my fault because of the hot water switch that made a noise when I turned it on but later found out that it wasn’t me. I ended up taking a quick fast cold shower to finish washing myself and that sucked. It took the electrician like an hour to fix the hot water pipe in which he had to go in and out of my room so thankfully the hostel manager let me have a free beer. I ordered dinner and got my free beer.

The next day I had to check out and get my bus to Huanchaco (another coastal town) which was a lot more difficult than expected. Plus one of the UK volunteers was rude and annoying me about getting my stuff out of the room so that didn’t help the situation. The company I purchased the ticket from, Redbus, wouldn’t accept my credit card and there were only a few seats for the night bus so I was getting worried. Thankfully this nice guy who was at the hostel for lunch let me use his bank to purchase the ticket online and I gave him cash. So I checked out and went to get my surfing photos from that girl and then chilled until my taxi arrived. The hostel had an interesting vibe from the many guests coming in and out, as well as the volunteers working there. It was either families, locals from Peru, or Australians or a few dedicated surfers. I had met my first Uruguay friend and he gave me some pointers about Huanchaco. I left around 8pm for the 10pm bus and the taxi (a small van) was super fast and just going out of control so it was a completely opposite experience going back to Talara from when I came (on the tuk tuk). I had to wait at the station for an hour and it was just not a nice place but eventually got going to Huanchaco. Overall, I really enjoyed Lobitos, it was basically a stranded surfer town with good food and relaxing vibes. The people definitely make a difference and the many hostels had different vibes to them as well from dreadlock backpackers, to scumbag surfers, to dedicated surfers. The 3 points there were awesome and I would go back just to surf, but it does take a lot just to get there.

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