08.10. – 14.10.2016
Our last days in Ecuador are over and we are very curious for Peru, especially because our plan is to spend minimum 5 weeks here – the longest time in one country so far!
We have booked an early morning bus from Cuenca in Ecuador to Máncora in Peru, a small northern coastal city. All in all it should take us 8 hours to get there, assuming that at the border it takes us probably 1 hour. We will learn what a wrong conclusion this was. 🙂 As we approach the border we first have to quickly change buses, since ours stays in Ecuador. Hurrying in the new bus, checking our stuff – good, we didn’t forget anything, what a relief… the last time we rushed out of a bus like this Jakub sadly left one lower part of his zipp off pants in the bus. 🙂 He still grieves for it…At the border we can already see the long line of people waiting for immigration – 1 hour is a very optimistic guess! In the end we would wait 3.5 hours. What was the problem? Let’s analyze it from a German perspective 🙂
- no separation of citizens and foreigners
- the line was not a line but more a circle and no one knew which spot one had
- no arranged lanes or safety barriers (see example airport immigration)
- police was there, but when people almost started a fight because obviously new arrivals tried to sneak in the line did not intervene
- from 5 office workers who do immigration, 3 were women being more busy with chatting
If someone from the Peruvian border reads this: no offense guys, but from all the borders we’ve crossed in Central and South America you seriously stole the show. 😉
But hey, we have time and anyway cannot change the fact that we need this stamp. But the end was near and as we were back in the bus, the ride to Máncora continued an after 12 hours we arrived. And we learnt 2 days later from an English couple that you can even wait longer at the border: 11 hours!! Due to a blackout and no internet. Hell yeah, we were lucky.
Approaching Máncora we saw the sunset over the ocean and looked forward to a couple of days on O meters in altitude and sun! Since tomorrow would be Jakubs birthday my initial plan was to organize stuff once we arrive in Máncora in the afternoon… well, due to the waiting time at the border this didn’t work out at all, very disappointing. Luckily Jakub forgave me and we enjoyed a long birthday breakfast the next day, had some fresh juice at the beach and booked a whale watching tour for the next day (which was supposed to be his present for today). 🙂
At 6:30am the next day our driver picked us up together with another group of people to drive to the harbor. We were super excited and curious – would we even see some whales? There’s of course no guarantee for it, but reading more about the whales on the internet we found out that the high season is from July until end of October. During these weeks, the whale cows take care of their babies, feed them and teach them how to do jumps out of the water. By the end of October they migrate back further South were their feeding ground contains more nutrition. Sounds like we have a good chance! We start heading to the open ocean with our boat and spot all of a sudden a huge swarm of dolphins, playing in the water and jumping next to the boat, spectacular! But then… they are here… humpback whales, mothers with their babies, diving up to catch some breath and disappearing in the ocean again. What a spot!! These animals are enormous and can have a body length of up to 17m, the females being bigger than males. We are thrilled to see them diving up and down and catching breath. Suddenly, the boat goes faster and there it is: a jumping whale, just like you normally see it in documentaries on tv! 🙂 It’s a young whale and obviously he practices jumping with his mum, amazing. He keeps turning in the water as well and it appears to be a wave at us – a dance of the whales. 😉 The whole boat is excited and we’re so happy about this encounter. An amazing morning which ends with a visit of the museum and a lot of great information. What we really liked is that the company “Pacifico Adventures” had marine biologists on the boat who were very careful in the treatment of the animals and kept distance. Highly recommended if you are in Máncora!!
The rest of afternoon we spent packing and planning the further route through Peru – do we still wanna see the Amazon rain forest or head directly to the mountains…? Still not sure what to do we decided to take a night bus to Trujillo, another city at the coast.
We arrive at 7:30am in Trujillo after a surprisingly comfortable bus in which we’ve booked a cama seat. The buses here have different options, for example the cama seat (“cama” means bed in Spanish), on which you can lean back 160°, on the 1st floor of the bus and additionally, waitress service is included. 😉 The semi cama is 145° and of course cheaper and then there’s the super cheap option with economic seat.
Arriving at the hostel the nice lady offered us breakfast and gave us a detailed map and tips what to see. We decided to not lose time and visit the famous Chan Chan ruins close by. They used to be the capital from an ancient culture called “Chimu”, who lived before the Inca conquered Perú. At peak times around the year 1300, approximately 60.000 people lived there. The UNESCO declared Chan Chan as a World Cultural Heritage, although it git destroyed mainly by the weather phenomenon “El Niño.”
Unfortunately, not a lot of information was given at the actual site (unless you wanted to pay a guide on top of the entrance fee) which is why we didn’t spend a lot of time there and took a bus to Huanchaco, a famous beach town. The weather was great and we felt sleepy from the night in the bus, so we relaxed at the beach and returned late in the afternoon to Trujillo. Walking through the city center we felt like coffee and stopped at the next restaurant to have one to go. Apparently the people here are a little bit confused when asking for a coffee to go, because the waiter looked startled and asked us to sit down. Then he brought two plastic cups and asked us to prepare our coffee by ourselves… okay!? He then brought a big cup of hot water, a big cup of milk and “essence of coffee”, as he explained. Which was cold..we were looking at each other, not knowing if we should either laugh, cry or run away. 🙂 So we started mixing and left quickly, missing the good old Colombian coffee times. *sigh* Oh, and another anecdote: if we ever thought that the we have found the city with the loudest and most honking cars, we were wrong. It is Trujillo. Reasons for honking can vary, but we think we found out a pattern when they honk: I’m coming, watch out, I’m leaving, watch out, go out of my way, stay there I’ll pass, Hola chica, you look beautiful!, you f%*”$# idiot! and many more. 😉
Our next day trip brought us to another well known site around Trujillo, the “Huaca de la Luna”. It’s a pyramid built by the Moche culture between the 3rd to the 8th century AD at the foot of the Cerro Blanco mountain. Here, we first visited the museum to learn a lot about the people and their beliefs, about the construction of the pyramid and the findings. Then we visited the actual site (with a guide, included in the price ;)) and were stunned by the paintings and the enormous size of it. Most of the paintings show mystic personalities, animal forms, anthropological creatures as well as stars, flowers and the sun. What we learned is that Peru is definitely not only about the Inca! 🙂
On our last day in Trujillo we finally made up our minds and decided not to head to Iquitos, the jungle city, but to continue down and see Huaraz, a city in the Andes famous for its trekking routes and beautiful nature. Up again on 3,100m!