A LONG TRIP TO MANCORA
Our trip to Mancora, a beach town in the far northwest corner of Peru, was a long one, to say the least. It took two full days, beginning with a 10 hour bus ride from Lima to the town of Trujillo. It was Mel’s first time traveling on the bus system here in South America, and while it was tough, it did give us the opportunity to stop overnight at a very friendly and fun hostel in a small beach town about 20 minutes outside of Trujillo called Huanchaco.
We arrived in the later evening, without much time to explore the quiet town. But were able to walk along the beach to a small restaurant that served yummy sandwiches and at very cheap prices, only a few dollars each. The small fishing town is famously known for the small, skinny reed boats that have been made by the people of Huanchaco for hundreds of years. The boats themselves look like a kayak, and are used to this day as one-man fishing boats, with fishermen paddling out, fishing, and riding the waves back in to shore. Because they are made out of reeds, they don’t last too long but we learned that they are quickly remade every few months. At night, the boats are all kept on the beach, stood up on their ends, which gives the beach a very unique and picturesque quality.
With a nice bed to sleep in and rest up for our second day of bus rides, we left Huanchaco early and made our way back to Trujillo.
SECOND DAY OF BUS RIDES
Once in Trujillo we caught our first of three buses for the day to work our way up to Mancora. We had researched the bus schedules as much as possible and knew that we had a tight schedule to keep for the day. To make things a bit more difficult, each bus we had to catch was at a different bus terminal from the one we would arrive at, meaning we had to find transportation within each town where we were connecting to the next bus. We made it to Chiclayo first (roughly 4 hours) and got in a taxi to our next bus terminal. Our timing was perfect as we arrived and were able to get on the next bus to Piura within about 20 minutes. That bus ride lasted about 3 hours. In Piura we were lucky enough to be dropped off just a few buildings down from the bus terminal to catch our final bus to Mancora. We weren’t able to get on the first bus leaving to Mancora but only had about 45 minutes to wait at the terminal. This gave us some time to get some fresh air and stretch our legs, and even grab some delicious street food right outside of the terminal doors. The last bus ride was about 4 hours, and we arrived in Mancora just about 8:30pm.
LOKI, THE HOSTEL OF FUN
When we arrived in Mancora we quickly grabbed a moto-taxi and they took us to our home for the next couple nights. Originally, we had only planned on staying in Mancora for Friday and Saturday night, but before we even arrived we had planned to book our room for Sunday night as well since we knew we would only get a couple days to enjoy the small surfer-friendly beach town. We walked through the main gate of Loki and instantly felt like it was a resort. The three main buildings looked more like a hotel, with a private patio for each room overlooking the pool and beach. The main common area wasn’t like most hostels. The enclosed grounds hosted areas of hammocks, grassy lawns, a pool surrounded by small cabanas and a restaurant and bar. This place was made for travelers to literally never need to leave.
We got to our room, settled and relaxed for a bit to get out of the funk from our two days of bus rides. The three of us made our way down to the pool area to hang out and make some new friends. After a bit, we headed out of the hostel for a short walk to explore the beach, which is lined with too many ceviche restaurants to count, bars serving pisco sours and even a few dance clubs.
We got up on Saturday feeling happy to be in such a relaxing and fun place. We let ourselves sleep in rather later than normal and got ready to spend the day at the pool catching rays and dipping in the pool to cool down. As we were chilling at the pool one of the staff members, a British guy named Harry, came around and explained to us that that day was the 7th anniversary of Loki in Mancora and he was planning a fun ‘pub crawl’ around the grounds of the hostel, with a pirate theme. We signed up and were given commemorative Loki shirts with skulls and crossbones on the front, and red bandanas. Everyone joining in on the pub crawl sported the outfits. This made for a very fun afternoon and night. We played limbo, raced while giving piggy back rides, crab crawled, and if you wanted to, jumping in the pool fully dressed. Our Saturday was full of fun shennigans to say the least.
During the pub crawl, we made some friends that we ended up spending the rest of our time with at Loki, two guys both named Diego (who we referred to as Diego Uno and Diego Dos), and Enrique. All guys that were on vacation from Lima. Thanks to them our time at Loki was even more fun. On Sunday we spent some time at the beach, soaking up the rays and watching the many surfers and wind surfers. We had a good dinner at the hostel that night and geared up to leave Loki and started making our arrangements to get to the mountain town of Huaraz.
THE ANCIENT MUD CITY OF CHAN CHAN
On our way to Huaraz, we had a night and day stay over in Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru, about halfway down the long coastline from Mancora to Lima. The stop in Trujillo ended up being a fun one, because we got to go and see the ruins of the largest ancient mud city in the world, Chan Chan. Chan Chan is still being excavated and preserved. We learned that Chan Chan was at one point the largest city in South America, starting at the ocean and reaching all the way to the mountains that surround the city of Trujillo today. So the city of Trujillo is literally built over the majority of the mud city of Chan Chan.
The ruins that we were able to get a tour of is just 2% of the ancient city. We were in one of the ten temples that were built for each individual king that ruled over the people of Chan Chan. It was believed that once a King died he would be on a long journey to his next life. So once a king died, he was mummified and kept in his temple with all of his belongings, ranging from gold, food, and even his warriors and people that were important in his daily life. That meant that up to 700 people were sacrificed after his death to be with him along his journey after death. The massive temple was built with only one entrance which was also the exit, and was built like a giant maze.
The temple we saw housed three different plazas that were used after the king’s death to celebrate him every year for a two week period. During this celebration, the mummified king was taken out of his tomb and placed in the various plazas over two weeks, where the people of Chan Chan would bring food, drinks, gifts and celebrate his life. The separate plazas were for people of different social classes. Once the king had reached his journey through death, the celebrations for that king would end and continue at the newest temple for the latest king when he died.
The walls of the temple are made mostly from mud, with some small rocks for added stability. Because of this, the preserving of the temple is a constant fight against nature. Many areas were covered with high awnings to keep the elements from causing damage allwing the artwork carved into the walls of the mud temple to still be visiblSince the people believed that their ancestors came from the ocean, all the carvings have either fish, cranes, waves, and fishing net designs.
It was a very odd place to be, and to learn that an entire temple as large as it is was built for just the burial purposes of a single king and for a yearly party to celebrate. After our tour to Chan Chan, we got ourselves ready for our first overnight bus ride in Peru, and Mel’s first ever. A long and very windy ride later we found ourselves in the high mountain town of Huaraz at about 5am, seemingly a world away from the desert coast that we had left behind.