Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving in Macas with the Peace Corps, Jungle, Census, Mancora

In an internet cafe in Mancora, Peru, so this is just the basics.

Made it to Macas after Puyo via bus, and sat down to lunch with David, an American I´ve been traveling with. Called my buddies in the peace corps, and they were just sitting down to thanksgiving dinner! So we scarfed down a delicious 2 dollar almuerzos (Soup, roast chicken, rice, papas, salad) and catch a taxi out to the Cabanas de Valle where the peace corps was staying. Had an amazing thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and all the goodies, sweet potatoes carried down from the highlands and canned cranberry sauce from the usa. Even homemade pineapple wine and chicha, a local drink made from fermented, chewed up Yuca (this was actually chewed up by a peace corps volunteer). I managed to eat again, david was too full. Oh, and pie.
Partied all nights with the corps, was a great time. Heavy drinking, swimming and chickenfights in the pool during a rainforest thunderstorm, flip cup, pong, lots of dancing, even a cuban cigar to top the night off.

The next day we went whitewater rafting through the rainforest, this was amazing, no rapids too crazy, the guides said they were 3s and 4s, but they were really 2s and 3s. An amazing time nonetheless. beautiful views of tree covered cliffs along the river, and plenty of birds and a bit of swimming.

The next day (saturday) we did an epic Jungle expedition. With 3 peace corps and me and David we hiked deep into Shwar indian territory with a local guide named Darwin to an amazing waterfall deep in the jungle, where Shamans take people who are hallucinating on Ajuahuasca to stand under the water and have their souls cleansed. This was amazing. Even without crazy jungle vine cooked hallucinogens, it was an amazing experience.
Next we took a bus to another area and then hiked an hour and a half through thick jungle along a path made of cut up logs to the riverside, and then sort of bushwhacked along the river for a half hour until we reached a gaping maw in the side of a cliff. Darwin had 2 flashlights, one of which didn´t work great, for the five of us, but still we clambered down slippery mud covered rocks into this cavern, squeezed through some holes, and for at least an hour walked deep into the bowels of the earth, through trickling water that ranged from ankle to waist deep. Nocturnal birds freaked out from the lights overhead, bats passed by, and we saw crazy crabs and other stuff. It was unbelievable. At the end we swam through a pool and climbed up alongside a pitchblack underground waterfall, but then we had to turn back before dark.
We were too late, and it got dark on the way back, but we got back fine and exhausted and muddy, after more then twelve miles of hiking, we passed out.

The next day was the census, meaning its illegal to walk on the street during the day, and people can be randomly picked up and arrested, and hostels are closed. I don´t know how other travellers didn´t get screwed by this, but fortunately our peace corps buddies hooked us up, and we spent all day lounger in Lilah´s apartment in Macas, drinking lightly and cooking up delicious fajitas, and taking it easy.

That night we caught a midnight bus to Cuenca with Brian, another peace corps friend, and spent the day in the city, a beautiful colonial town, but with not a whole lot going on. Lots of Schwarma restaurants, and I had a delicious Bandeja Paisa in a Colombian restaurant (look it up if you don´t know) and smoked a little hookah.

Decided to hit Peru, still with Brian, now joined by Isabella, a Danish girl who we met in the Colombian restaurant. And hour before we left, we grabbed some Schwarma, and ran into two Canadian girls who didn´t know what they were doing. We told them they should come to Peru with us, and that they had 20 minutes to pack and 40 to get to the Bus. They debated and then rushed off, and as the bus was leaving the station and we thought they were no shows I saw them looking lost in the terminal, and we held the bus and caught them up, and so from one, to a group of five, we set off for Peru.

The night bus to Peru was no problem. Direct to Mancora, switching to a Cifa bus from a Pullman Sucre before the border. Exit Visas were slow, but Entry visas were quick. The girls I was with were really dumb and gave random guys their passports, and should have been scammed for money, but our bus driver turned out to be a good guy and came and laid down the law, and we all passed into Peru without a hitch.

Hit Mancora at 5am and passed out immidiatly in a hostel called the Guacamayo. Next day went to the beach, swam, relaxed, had delicious food, bought another bathing suit because I left my last one in Banos, and just chilled.
Annoying to have to change currencty, its about 2.80 soles to the dollar here, but everythings cheap and Mancora is an expensive town, so this trip should be reasonable.
Getting lots of sun, made a delcious meat in my hostel from fresh tuna steaks caught that morning, eggplant tomatoes onions and green peppers from the market, and rice and watermelon for dessert. Our hostel owners ate with us, really nice people who have adopted about 20 street dogs which are now really friend and play with the guests and act as security around the hostel.

Mancora´s nice, but a little dangerous at night and all the tuk-tuk drivers (no taxis, just moto tuk tuks) try to sell you cocaine, which I have no interest in and would prefer not to be hassled about. Lots of cool parties at night though and a beautiful beach with warm water, and tons of sun. It´s summer here year rond. Nice place but I couldn´t stay here for too long, theres times when I love it an other times when the vibe just wierds me out. If I had more time I might do a couple more sun drenched days in the hammock and on the beach though, c├ęst la vie.

Tonight taking an 8:30 PM bus direct to Lima, about 18 hours, should get there in the afternoon tomorrow, then I´m off to Cusco. Still with David and the Canadians, Isabella might rejoin us later in Cusco. Trying to get to Machu Pichu!

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