Category Archives: Peru

Back to Peru, Because I Went Crazy

After two and a half weeks in Indonesia I flew back to Peru, where I had just been 3 weeks earlier.  I took a giant leap because sometimes, not matter what the circumstances, the odds, or the situation you have to do it, even if it is just to prove to yourself you have the balls to try.

If you ever see me you can ask me about my trip back to Peru.  Even months after I went back I still have a hard time explaining what happened.  It changed me, my perspective, and what I value in life.  This act of madness has also taught me that even if you do everything you can in a given situation and do it well, you can still fail.  Learning to deal with this reality has been one of he hardest mental battles I have had to face so far.

Good Bye Peru, For Now….

Jon had to head back to Lima to catch his flight a day after the swell.  With great deliberation I decided to stay in Mancora for a few more days.  I wanted to catch the tail end of the swell, and Mancora was just too warm and fun to leave quite yet. I did however feel very bad about sending Jon back to Lima on his own.

The next few days where a blur of sun and booze.  I hung out with Ica a little more, and had some interesting conversations.  I met a few more gringos and kiwis that were living in town long term. I met an English guy, and threw our talks, he discovered I was a product designer, and he pitched me a great idea for a sea diving widget.  New business perhaps?  Just another mystical moment in Mancora.

I tried to get some work done at Loki, which was a joke.  After barley sleeping for 4 days, being weak from a parasite, and partying all I could do was stare at a page and try to focus, which was impossible.

Each night got crazier than the last at the Loki, and I will forever consider this hostel the best in the world.  Set up like a resort, but with hostel prices….I will be surprised if anything will ever compare.

I caught a bus back to Lima a day before my flight out of the country.  The bus ride back to Lima was 24 hours, but this time I sprang for the luxury seats that lay all the way flat.  It still wasn’t the most enjoyable travel, but tolerable.  I arrived back at Loki Lima and spent one more day enjoying the hostel set up. I talked with Andrea, the manager, and got some more great info about the country.  That night I hopped on a flight bound for Sydney where I would spend 2 days before catching another flight bound for Bali.

Over the years as I loosely planned this trip, I always thought I would end it in Bali. After hearing multiple friends and countless surfers rave about Indonesia, I could sense that this place might be what I have been looking for.  I was super excited to get there and was finally on my way.

The Swell Arrives In Mancora!

Mancora Surf

Mancora Surf

On the third day in Mancora, the swell showed up with some force.  Double overhead waves rolled through the shallow sand point and ripped into the beach.

I awoke at day break for high tide and paddled out.  There were only 4 of us out, and I got wave after wave of big backside brilliance. After about 2 hours, my arms were spent plus 20 more guys had paddled out by then.

I spent the rest of the day in happy exhaustion, sitting by the pool, drinking tropical boozy drinks, and watching bomb sets roll in.  All in all a day to remember.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Mid-day photo shoot on the second story of the Blue Parrot bungalow.

Great Surf Sunset

Great Surf Sunset

Great Surf Sunset

Great Surf Sunset

Mancora Great Surf Sunset

Mancora Great Surf Sunset

Mancora Great Surf Sunset

Mancora Great Surf Sunset

Mancora, My Happiest, Happy Place

Mancora

Mancora

We arrived in Mancora at 6 a.m.  The bus dropped us off, and we were immediately surrounded by 10 locals trying to grab our bags and hustle into their buggies for a ride to wherever we wanted to go.  I can usually handle hawkers trying to sling me stuff, but at that time in the morning, and after a 12 hour bus ride, I really wasn’t in the mood.  These guys where also trying to out maneuver each other, making the scene that much more chaotic.  I ended up snapping at one of the guys and  Jon took over and selected one guy.  The driver threw my board on top of the tricycle buggy and zipped down the road to the Blue Parrot Hotel.  This place was recommended by Gustavo, and was suppose to be right in front of the Mancora break.

Buggies on the main road of Mancora, the Pan American Highway.

Buggies on the main road of Mancora, the Pan American Highway.

Blue Parrot Hotel

Blue Parrot Hotel

We got our room, and took a nap for a few hours.  The place was pretty much deserted, and quiet.  We were in town during the winter and this being a very tourist town, we knew it would be quite this time of year.

The surf was flat, which was fine with me, as I knew it would give me a few days to get the bus out of my legs.

The hotel had great internet, and Jon and I ordered breakfast and sat up top on the second floor of the outdoor bungalow and ate and skype’d friends.  The weather was warm, and the shallow point / beach break out front of the hotel looked like it would light up and get crazy fun with a good swell.  I was getting more and more excited to be here, and could feel my body and mind revitalize.  On top of all the good feelings and warm weather, today was my birthday, and I couldn’t think of a better place to be.  If only all my friends in the world were with me.  Having Jon there, a good, old friend helped fill the gap and loneliness.

We walked the beach, and into town, just exploring.  I really started to love this place, and really felt comfortable here.  Some places just have a great energy, Mancora has more than almost anywhere I have ever been.

My Magical Place, Mancora

My Magical Place, Mancora

Mancora Beach

Mancora Beach

Mancora Beach

Mancora Beach

Bars Along The Beach

Bars Along The Beach

Mancora Beach

Mancora Beach

Boards and Bars

Boards and Bars

After a sunset photo shoot, Jon and I sought out a restaurant for my birthday dinner.  Andrea, the manager of the Loki Lima hostel had recommended an Italian restaurant in town. Mancora is a fishing village, and the main catch is Tuna.  Each morning the fisherman head out and by mid-day they return with their catch of Tuna.  There is nothing better than fresh tuna, and everywhere in town you can get massive tuna steaks, tuna sashimi, and any other tuna combination dish you can think of at a great price.

This particular Italian restaurant served amazing tuna sashimi pizza.  I know it sounds weird, and it was, but it was also amazingly tasty!  I also had a gnocchi in white cream sauce with seared tuna steak that may go down as my favorite dish on my adventures so far.

Tuna Sashimi With Italian Herbs

Tuna Sashimi With Italian Herbs

Tuna Sashimi Pizza and White Cream Gnocchi With Seared Tuna Steak

Tuna Sashimi Pizza and White Cream Gnocchi With Seared Tuna Steak

My birthday ended as a mellow one, but an amazing dinner, with a good friend, in a great location will make it very memorable.

The next day was lazy, we just hung out at the beach, walked down to the pier where the fisherman unloaded their daily catch.  We walked the beach, and went for a swim.  We noticed that night that the Loki Hostel next door was rocking.  We decided that we would try and stay there for a night.  We went over and checked to see if there where rooms and signed up for the next day.  During the day, we met a suburbia guy named Ica.  He had just moved to Mancora from Columbia and was setting up a kite boarding school.

Little did I know that this ordinary, cool guy would become a bit of a shaman for me.  He happened to say just the right thing, at just the right time, that helped me get back on track.  Its funny how some places and people can make an experience memorable.

Mancora Sunset Fence

Mancora Sunset Fence

Mancora Sunset Fence

Mancora Sunset Fence

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset Boats

Mancora Sunset

Mancora Sunset

Mancora Sunset

Mancora Sunset

For the night John and I stopped into one of the small bars along the main town road which happens to also be the Pan American Highway.  We went into the Surf Bar, as I guess any surfer should.  There was only one other table of people, and us at the bar, a pretty quiet night.  We talked with the owner, and a guy that called himself Jonathan, who was the bar back, or something….I’m not sure if he was actually even worked there.  Turns out the that the guy that owns the bar also owned the main surf school in Mancora.  He also plays hilarious music in his bar, and Jon and I drank a few pints and rapped with the boys about the town, the surf, and general BS.

In the morning we moved to the Loki Hostel at Mancora to see what it was all about.  Lets just way, we where impressed!

Loki Mancora Hostel

Loki Mancora Hostel

Loki Mancora. Yes, This is a hostel!

Loki Mancora. Yes, This is a hostel!

The bar area here just rocked.  Each night something crazy went down.  Mostly it was drunken white people dancing on the bar.  Great business model though, keep the travelers inside the hostel and take their cash for booze.

Loki Mancora

Loki Mancora

This place just kept getting better everyday we where there.  After a day at Loki, we had made a few friends.  I met a few surfers and some local long term travelers that where living in town from The States, and New Zealand.

One thing that has really become apparent after living in communal housing around the world has been the set up of a place really determines the vibe and social aspect of a place.  Some hostels or guest houses really have a feeling of seclusion, while others are set up for meeting and socializing.  Believe it or not all it really takes is a common area near or around a kitchen or dinning area.  Like I have always said, if you want a great space to socialize in, make it a kitchen, its where the party always ends up.  Loki does this best out of anyplace I have been.

Mancora Main Street

Mancora Main Street

The First Surfers, Huanchaco

Colorfull bus from Trujillo to Huanchaco

Colorful bus from Trujillo to Huanchaco

After a 12 hour over night bus ride, we arrived in Trujillo mid day.  We quickly caught a cab out to Huanchaco and found a nice guest house hostel towards the norther end of town.  They had internet and John and I rested a bit, grabbed a shower and went out for lunch.

Fisherman

Fisherman on his Caballitos de totora

Caballitos de totora are reed watercrafts used by Peruvian fishermen for the past 3,000 years. Named for the way they are ridden, straddled (‘little reed horses’ in English), fishermen use them to transport their nets and collect fish in their inner cavity. They are made from the same reed used by the Los Uros people in the Lake Titicaca region.

Fishermen still use these vessels to this day, riding the waves back into shore, and suggesting some of the first forms of wave riding. There is currently a minor debate in the surfing world (in the surfing community every debate is minor) as to whether or not this constitutes the first form of surfing.

Welcome to Huanchaco

Welcome to Huanchaco

I found a local surf school / shop / board shaper that agreed to fix some of the dings in the board that Gustavo lent me.  It took the entire day to get fixed, which is super fast normally.  Without a board though I could only watch the surf and the playful waves that were rolling through the point at Huanchaco.

Waiting to get the surfboard repaired.

Waiting to get the surfboard repaired.

Yearning For Surf

Yearning For Surf

To kill some time, Jon and I decided to walk the main part of town and take some photos.  It was great having another guy that wanted to shoot, and it was fun finding scenes together.

Its great to have a friend to take pictures of me!

Its great to have a friend to take pictures of me. Wow...I got skinny!

Upper part of the Huanchaco point wave.

Upper part of the Huanchaco point wave.

Local Game of Futbol

Local Game of Futbol

Still waiting for the board to be finished. Still yearning for sleep.

Still waiting for the board to be finished. Still yearning for sleep.

reed boats

Caballitos de totora,reed boats

Sunset at Huanchaco Northern Beach

Sunset at Huanchaco Northern Beach

Friends FOREVER!

Friends FOREVER!

We ate ceviche and had a few beers.  This place was suppose to have some of the best ceviche in town.  It was recommended by the lovely manager of Loki Hostel in Lima.  She gave us great intel of places on our route to Mancora.

Building with some serious character.

Building with some serious character.

There are some amazing building with all sorts of character and beautiful subtle color.  It was not hard finding great pictures.

Door with some serious character.

Door with some serious character.

Alley of Color

Alley of Color

That Way

That Way

This Way

This Way

Another door with some serious character.

Another door with some serious character.

More Character

More Character

Biblioteca

Biblioteca

We caught another red eye bus, so we didn’t even get a full night in Huanchaco.  But we where in a hurry to get to Mancora to meet the swell and hang on the sunny tropical beach.

Northward Bound To Mystical Beaches and Big Surf

During our Saturday night rock out, Gustavo and the boys told me about a big south swell that was marching its way towards the Peruvian coast later in the week.  Jon and I had told them about our plans to head north, and they all agreed it was a great idea.  As it turned out a few of them were going to make the journey to catch the swell.

Gustav agreed to let me borrow a board for the week. Jon and I headed out to his house Sunday night to grab the board.  We caught the overnight bus late Sunday night, a 12 hour trip to the halfway point between Lima and Mancora along the Pan American Highway.  The city of Trujillo is one of the largest cities in the north and lays guard to the small beach community called Huanchaco.

Cruz Del Sur Bus Line.  Our ride to the north.

Cruz Del Sur Bus Line. Our ride to the north.

There ain’t no party like a SA party, cause an SA party don’t quit!

Not Senor Pescado....This Is Mr. Fish!

Not Senor Pescado....This Is Mr. Fish!

I finally got a hold of my old Reef co-worker in Lima which ended up being a pain as I was not able to get my phone hooked up in Peru.  I  am still not sure why as it has worked in New Zealand, Australia, Africa, and Asia.

We set up a time to meet at a place called Mr. Fish.  I figured this was a sushi joint or something.  The meet up time was around 7 pm, so I figured we were going to have dinner, then hit the town to experience the night life.

I got directions from the receptionist at Loki Hostel, and we jumped in a cab.  The spot was in Barranco, a section of Lima known for its great restaurants, nightlife and working class grit.

Jon and I hopped in a cab and handed the driver the directions, which were written in Spanish by the receptionist.  Like all places in the world, the cabby looked confused, and then finally handed the paper back and we headed off.  This did not give me the greatest confidence he knew where he was going.

We wove our way through the streets and over the bridge into Barranco.  I was a little nervous, heading into an unknown part of town, not knowing the language.  My anxiety grew more as we entered street after street of deserted, warehouse space and unlit alleyways.  Right as my anxiety level peaked we turned a corner, and a scene of mayhem laid before us.  The street was overflowing with people.  Traffic was backed up, and groups of teens and 20 somethings crowded together in the unmistakable pattern of a venue letting loose after heavy drinking.

We jumped out of the cab, and in a daze looked at each other like “now what”.  We picked our way through the crowd and found the disorganized line near the entrance.  In a complete dumb luck moment, I spotted Gustavo, my colleague in line, and he waved us over.  He was in line with his sister, brother and a group of about 10 friends.

I was very confused on what we where about enter.  Most times in Peru, the party does not start until 2.am, and it was only 7:30 pm.  Once we got to the front of the line, Gustavo’s sis said some magical persuasive words and we were ushered in.

The scene I walked into will forever be one of my happiest.  The place looked a lot like bar-clubs back in San Diego on the beach.  Wooden and large with a big open area and tables surrounding the center front stage / dance floor area.  There was a second level in the back, and a stage in front.  There had to have been around 1000 locals on tables dancing and rocking out to a drum band.  On stage with the band were jugglers, fire eaters, unicycles and a feverish thumping beat.  Jon being a drummer was in heaven….and as I scanned the crowd I felt the touch of god as well.  The energy inside was so charged that even though I haven’t been feeling physically great, my mood, excitement and body felt rejuvenated and ready for a long night of rocking with the locals.

We had a few beers, and bought a round for Gustavo and his family and friends.  I found out that his sister and a few of her friends had all lived and went to school in San Diego.  The other guys that were in the crew all spoke English well, were avid surfers and great to talk with.  It was such an unforgettable night.

To our astonishment the club started to shut down at 9 pm.  And we shifted to another place next door.  We danced and roamed around that place….me and the beard in heaven.  We ended up going to some weird DC Shoe company party with a AC/DC cover band and then finally to a big, high end club in Miraflores near the hostel.  I didn’t really adhere to my alcohol ban and my tolerance had not recovered from the parasite.  I ended up walking back before Jon, but knew our new friends would keep him safe and take care of him.