Sea Turtle Heaven In Mancora, Peru
The ride from Montañita in Ecuador, to Mancora in Peru, is eventful. For starters, we are extremely hungover, having stupidly partied until 2am the night before a 7am bus to Guayaquil; a city three hours away. Secondly, we clearly aren’t the only ones who went out last night, as within ten minutes of boarding our first bus, another backpacker is being loudly sick into a plastic bag. The bus is quickly forced to stop and allow this poor guy to dispose of his waste at the side of the road, amid the glares of many local families making their way home after a weekend on the coast.
As well as this, multiple people decide not to sit in their allocated seats, which means our next pick-up takes double the amount of time as everyone shuffles around, and an altercation takes place between a local teenager and an Ecuadorian woman regarding the teenagers need to repeatedly (and obviously on purpose) kick the back of the lady’s chair. Let’s just say that by the time we arrive in Guayaquil bus terminal we are more than ready to get off the bus, even though we now have a four-hour wait, until our eight-hour bus into Peru.
On the plus side, the Guayaquil bus terminal is large and full of eateries, including McDonald’s – which is a godsend given our sorry hungover states. After a large meal each we’re feeling much better and manage to pass the time well by walking around the shops and playing Yahtzee.
For the next leg of our journey we’ve paid just ten dollars extra to upgrade to VIP class and on boarding the Cruz Del Sur bus, we discover that the comfort is more than worth the additional expense. We have the luxury of wide, soft, black leather armchairs that recline and come with leg rests. As well as this, we have on-board food service and individual televisions inserted into the chairs in front of us, with films in English! It’s like flying on a plane, but in a bus. It’s thanks to our amazingly comfortable surroundings that we are able to get a good three hours sleep, recovering completely from our hangovers.
By the time we get to Mancora, after an easy and quick border crossing, it’s nearly 11pm at night. Mancora itself is a small surf town on the north-east coast of Peru, consisting of pretty much one main street, so the main form of transport is by Tuk-Tuk. We’re staying at the Loki Del Mar hostel, a large place with a pool designed to look and feel like a holiday destination. We have a private room which is average and contains bed sheets with holes in them, but does come with a balcony and pool view, so it’s definitely a treat.
The following day, after a much-needed breakfast at the pool bar, we catch a rickety Tuk-Tuk through the barren desert to El Ñuro, which is a tiny fishing port and backpacker attraction due to the swarms of sea turtles that glide right next to its long and busy pier. The weather is perfect for swimming, at a hot twenty-eight degrees and with pure sunshine.
Ever since I first started travelling, back in 2012, I have been waiting to swim properly with wild sea turtles, having only ever managed to find a fleeting one or two. Well, I finally get to tick that dream off my bucket list! When we don life jackets and hop down a ladder into the cold ocean, at least a dozen sea turtles not only swim around us, but actually swim into us! There’s a sign that reads, “Please don’t touch the turtles”, but actually this is unavoidable at they literally head straight for us.
At first, it’s a strange sensation to feel their rough shells against our backs and their flippers pushing our legs and stomachs as they swim past with ease. Dave and I squeal a lot, along with the handful of other swimmers in the water. It’s not as if the turtles don’t have room, they’re are not held in the area in any way and there are plenty of open spaces around us, they just seem to be completely non fussed by our presence and as a result, we get to have the most incredible experience being so close to them.
After ten minutes Dave gets out of the water as he’s not particularly enjoying himself anymore, but I am in my element. I swim alongside turtle after turtle, waiting for them to surface for air occasionally and looking them right in the eye when they do. It is unbelievable. Eventually, Dave persuades me out of the water and we make our way back to our Tuk-Tuk, stopping to gawp at the enormous fish being caught off of the pier by local fishermen. I know I will have a massive grin on my face all day long after such a brilliant morning.
When we return to the hostel, the sun is still shining and given the holiday resort setting we settle onto sun-beds for the afternoon, chatting with other travelers and tanning. The evening is just as relaxing, as we eagerly tuck into the ‘Captain’s Dinner’; a full roast dinner that is completely delicious, before sitting with many of the friends we’ve made throughout Colombia and Ecuador that are following the same route as us. We talk and drink the night away, with beer-pong, ping pong and giant Jenga games thrown in.
In the morning, Dave is suffering from too many alcoholic beverages, whereas I am feeling fresh as a daisy after just a couple. So, I spend the morning sunbathing and playing water volleyball with some of the hostel workers and other guests, while Dave sleeps. This is our last day in Mancora as we’re getting conscious of the little time we have left in South America (around four weeks), and we can’t really justify any more days spent chilling and drinking beer. We need to get on the move, so this evening we’ll be catching an eighteen-hour overnight bus to Lima and then flying to Cusco, to visit the world wonder Machu Picchu.
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