Becoming qualified as a TEFL teacher is a lot of hard, intensive work. But if I learnt anything from university, it’s that you have to work hard, but you have to party harder. Without wanting to be too literal, here in Peru our way of ‘partying’ has taken many forms. We’ve chilled out the beach with nothing but good music, (questionably) good beer and good company. I’ve also spent some time sat watching the waves and journaling, trying to find some clarity – something I struggle to find the time to do at home. We’ve spent nights in the pool and nights on the beach with a bonfire, and many an evening spent in the local surf hostel ‘Casa Kresala’ enjoying the incredible food cooked by the vegetarian surf instructor / cook, WIlly.
(Bonfires on the beach of Zorritos)
Weekends have been spent exploring the local area, so far ticking Tumbes and Mancora off the list. Tumbes was an experience to say the least, but I would be lying if i said I would rush back there. It’s your typical under-developed city… it’s chaotic and dirty with absolutely no order to anything, and I most definitely would not like to be in its proximity come nightfall.
(Hammock of dreams at Casa Kresala)
Mancora, on the other hand, was a dream. It is essentially the back-packers paradise of northern Peru, the Gilli Island of South America if you like. If, like us, it’s a party weekend you’re after, head straight to hostel Loki, a 2 minute walk from the beachfront. Booking in advance, even a couple of days, is definitely needed here. When our group of 8 backpackers walked in expecting a room, we were solely disappointed to learn it was fully booked. Thankfully we found a hostel opposite which ended up being a great option, as it was significantly quieter than Loki, so when we all stumbled home at stupid o’clock in the morning, there was a chance of some sleep at least. The cheap rate of 30 soles a night meant one thing: more beer money. Need I say more?
For sunset drinks, we headed to the beach. Parking ourselves on a plastic chair as the tide came in (yes, after a few cocktails we were practically sat in the ocean) we made the most of happy hour as the sky turned a brilliant shade of purple, pink and orange. Luckily for us, the horses were being taken home at this time, offering a simply stunning photo opportunity.
With a few pisco sours inside us, we headed back to Loki. The rest of the evening was spent dancing, talking to fellow backpackers and hearing of all their amazing travels and often hilarious stories, and soon realizing that ping pong gets considerably more challenging with every pisco sour you drink.
Breakfast! The most important part of…. hangover recovery. We headed towards the centre of town, and found a small cafe called Sweet Lady. Serving everything under the sun, this was a diamond of a find.
However, keen to explore more south american pastimes than drinking pisco sours, I’ve made surfing a hobby of mine for the month I am spending on the coast. I’ve had a lesson in Bali before, but needless to say with our typically rubbish British weather, have not been able to keep it up. I cannot say it came naturally, but after many face plants and belly-flops into the crashing waves, instinct must have kicked in and I was able to stand up again and again. The feeling of those first few waves you manage to catch is pure euphoria, I think I even fell off a few times because the size of my smile unbalanced me! After a couple of lessons, I began being able to properly ‘ride’ a wave.. and that’s the addictive feeling. When you stand up…and keep standing up for the entirety of the wave, being able to control the board, it is simply incredible.
It’s not just the standing up though, it’s the mindset that if you relax into the waves and trust the board, you’re actually better at it. It’s a pretty good metaphor for life and sums up the peruvian attitude perfectly…. relax, and you will succeed. It’s the smiles and good vibes of those around you too. Surfers have to be a particular breed… outdoorsy, adventurous, and prepared to get very wet in trade for a good time and a good beer after.. it’s a very refreshing thing to surround yourself with people like that, it’s infectious. Then there’s the fact that even if you fail and you miss every wave, you’re still on a surf board floating in the middle of the pacific watching the sun go down on another beautiful day. It’s moments like that when you pause to take in the sheer beauty of it all, that make me very thankful to be on this planet.
(Swimming with turtles in Mancora)