“We hoped on the bus from Guayachil, Ecuador at about 10pm with our fingers crossed of having a successful border crossing. To our great surprise the whole things went swimmingly and it was by far the easiest crossing we made. God knows how but the bus even arrived early at our destination, Mancora, the following morning. Mancora is a small beach town in north Peru that is super popular amongst backpackers looking for relaxation, surfing or intense partying. We were heading for the latter. Arriving at 6am was not the best start, so we dumped the bags in the hostel and hit the beach to practice our barely existent Frisbee skills. From the moment we checked in, the next 5 days were spent either flaked on the beach or swimming in the pool. The hostel we stayed in, Loki, was by far the best hostel we have ever stayed in. After a day or two spent by the pool we were so tanned that we were often asked which part of the Caribbean we originated from.
That said, there were two fields in which we did excel, and they were Heading the Ball and Karaoke. What started as a small game of heads in the pool became a spectacle for many of the hostel guests, with us reaching the fine figure of 38 headers without the ball dropping. That’s going straight on the CV. It even led to one Irish lad asking if we played League of Ireland. That night, we entered the Karaoke contest and needless to say the rendition of I Want It That Way has gone down in Loki history as one of the best.
After 5 days of pure fun, we decided it was time to get back to the real world and hopped on the 20 hour bus to Lima. As with all long distance bus journeys, the companies play movies throughout the trip. Well,if I see The feckin’ Impossible again, I will have to check into counselling once back in Ireland. I was an emotional wreck on the trip down to Lima after 5 days of craic.
We arrived in freezing Lima after midday and we could almost see our tans falling off. We headed straight to the hostel and checked in for some much needed rehab. They should have called the place The Priory. We spent the whole playing many of the sports available within the hostel. It was like School Sports Day all over again! Once given the all clear from The Priory, we decided to check out the city and were given a lovely tour by some locals. While on the city tour we happened to come across the auditions for The Voice of Peru. Being consummate singing professionals we felt it our duty to enter. After being rejected by the staff due to the fact we were not residents of Peru, we decided to hold an impromptu audition outside the venue to show them what they missed. We are still waiting for the call back.
While in Lima, we came across both an Irish owned charity called Help Them Hope, set up by John Whelan from Carlow and The Irish Chamber of Commerce Peru. Luckily we got the chance to interview both entities. You can read about Help Them HOPE and the Irish Chamber of Commerce here.
On our final day in Lima, we visited the city’s famous fountains and took in some of the Peruvian equivalent of McDonald’s: Bembos. As Colin Farrell said: “That is bleedin’ delish!”. With our rehab over, we decided to head for Ica, a tiny town about 4 hours away which is infamous for its sand buggying and sand surfing. So we grabbed the 6am bus the next day and headed south.
We arrived at Ica around 11am and were promptly ripped off by the taxi man taking us to our hotel. That said he did sign us up for the sand buggying and surfing that afternoon for a very decent price, so we can’t complain really. We pencilled in only one night for Ica as there is not a whole lot to do apart from the sand activities. Good job, we did that as there was níl aon craic in the hotel as we were the only guests. It was like The Priory holiday retreat. After a bit of grub we were collected by the taxi man and brought to the sand dunes just outside the town in a placed called “Huacachina”. We then hopped on a sand buggy, which looked a bit like a remote controlled car. The driver then proceeded to go mad around the dunes, nearly tipping over on a few occasions. Eddie Irvine got nothing on this! After about 30 minutes of driving we were dropped off to try sand boarding. Not the easiest of sports in the world but we gave it a good shot. Once we reached the steepest dunes we wisely decided to try it on our bellies. The results were not pleasant and Sudocream was called straight into action! We spent the next few hours back at the hotel trying to get sand out of every crevasse but to no avail. The following morning we killed some time by going shopping in the city centre and being the only gringos in town. After some bia we headed to the bus station and got an 18 hour bus for Cusco, where we would finally get to visit Machu Picchu.
We arrived in the picturesque city of Cusco around 12pm the next day and checked into the hostel sin problemas. The hostel had its own gym, so the time was nigh to get back into action. We only lasted about 15 minutes as the altitude was a killer. That afternoon, we went around the city to have a gander and were surprised to see that the city’s flag has a striking resemblance to that of gay pride. A word of note, I highly recommend you do not say this to any Cuscenos, unless you fancy a smack in the face. That evening we sampled some of the Cusco nightlife and threw out some very poor salsa moves.
As we were leaving we learned that the girls all loved One Direction and decided we would return after the Machu Picchu trek with some songs and videos from them. We headed back to the hostel and sold as many as possible, “2 for a euuurrraahhhh”. That evening, in preparation of our 3 day Machu Picchu trek we decided to partake in some additional karaoke. I think I read it in the Lonely Planet that it’s the most recommend preparation. Needless to say, “When you’re looking like that” went down extremely well.
We arose at 6am the next morning and took a bus from Cusco to a nearby mountain where we had a 4 hour bike cycle down. It was not the most strenuous of cycles as we barely had to pedal, but we were like 3 Stephen Roches taking the corners. That was until, my pedal decided he was having no more of it and popped off as I was going 90 around a cliff. I freewheeled for as far as possible until gravity would no longer accept it and I had to sulk-walk for a bit before a replacement was found. That said, the views were spectacular. Afterwards we headed to Santa Teresa, a town which has some famous natural baths and spent a few hours soaking there, until our hands were that of an 80 year old man. We grabbed some dinner with the trek crew and went out for a few beverages. Not the greatest of calls, as we were up at 6am the next morning.
Arising at 9am, I spent the next 3 hours downloading anything One Direction related online. I’m not sure what the other hostel guests thought, but I had a few strange glances. We hopped in a taxi and headed to the girls’ house again and started the whole process of cookie making again, while a One Direction concert blared in the background. I’ve never seen so much excitement on the faces of kids in all my life! Once the cookies were made, we said our goodbyes and the girls gave us a number of presents including bracelets, posters and diaries. Lovely kids altogether! Once back in the hostel we decided the following day was the day to end our Peruvian adventure. With that in mind we went to a local “P” party (you have to dress up as something beginning with P) and went as a Princess, Pikey and Potato Sack. A+ for effort.
As always, a huge thank you to all the people who have made the last 3 weeks in Peru probably the best of our journey so far. In particular we would like to thank My Small Help for allowing us to partake in activities and also Loki Hostels for just existing. Peru is such an amazing country with friendly people, numerous activities, beautiful attractions and awesome parties! A must for everyone!
See you in Bolivia,