So I get back to Quito and have decided that it is finally time to start making my way south of the border. I decided that I was well-traveled enough and only had one bag, so it should be simple to take the public transport to the train station rather than pay the $10 for the taxi. However the amount of trouble I went through was not worth saving the cab fare. Hefting my 50lbs pack, I climbed onto an already overcrowded bus and experienced hell for approximately an hour and a half. I also had to make a rather confusing bus switch at one point that rapidly tested my Spanish skills. The lesson here: take the freaking cab!!! Mistake number two was that I still didn’t quite understand how the South American inter-country buses worked, and I missed the fact that paying an extra $15 could be the difference between a fluffy reclining chair and 90° upright, sleepless torment. The latter option was my nine-hour bus ride to Cuenca. So I pull into Cuenca around 10:30 pm, exhausted. Here I was suddenly faced with two options: I could walk outside and find a taxi to take me to some random hostel, or I could take the next bus south and get a rough nights sleep and wake up on a Peruvian beach. I chose option #2.
I arrived at about 5:30 am in Mancora, tired and a bit out of it. The first thing that happens as you step off the bus is a bombardment of taxi drivers yelling out the names of different hostels. I had arrived without a reservation, so I asked one to take me to a good hostel. This was mistake #3. Taxi drivers get a commission from crappy hostels when they bring new customers to them, so I end up with a crappy hostel without many necessities and no locker for my things. It did, however, have a bed. So I decided to suffer for the first night for the sake of sleep, and scout out new accommodations in the afternoon. In Mancora, if you aren’t staying in a private cabana and are on a budget, the place to stay is Loki del Mar. First, let me warn you, it is a party hostel. But, if you can shelve any prudish sensibilities and get down and party, you can have a fantastic time! Security at this hostel is the best in the town, as they have guards at all the gates. The beds are fairly comfortable, it has a pool, and it has a beach entrance. Loki is known for their fantastic parties with a full stocked bar in-house, so for anyone who wanted to go out and see the seaside nightlife, you had best stay at Loki because that is where everyone else is. Warning! The hostel is very popular, so book on hostelworld in advance! If you can’t get in, i suggest trying Kokopelli Hostel across the street.
Finally, about Mancora. This has to be the prettiest, least crowded beach I have ever been to! The ocean was the perfect temperature and felt fantastic to swim in, and you are located right next to a premier surf point. I had actually never been surfing before, so my first day I payed $20 for lessons from on the other numerous events surf bars along the beach. While I can’t say I mastered it, I definitely had a blast. The next three days were spent living in paradise with good food, fabulous sun, and lots of drinking! I made a couple of British friends at my hostel who were surprised that I had visited the same little town in Wales where they went to school. We became drinking buddies and hit up the night life around town, as well as the glow paint parties hosted by Loki. All in all, I had a fabulous time, and can’t wait to return.
Now it was time to continue my trek south.