A Travellerspoint blog

day 146?

quito, mancora, lima, cusco, mancora --> brazil

oh wow. Its been too long.... so much to update on. Last time I wrote I had just met up with Louie and we were figuring out our plans....

We ended up going straight back down to Mancora and spent I think 10 days there. We only had accommodation booked in Kokopelli, the hostal I had worked at for the past month, for a couple nights after new years so first thing we had to do when we arrived was find somewhere to stay. I had only been gone from Mancora for 3 maybe 4 days but the difference was crazy, there were sooo many more people there for the new year it was crazy. Streets were packed and prices were wayyy too high. We stayed the first night in this guesthouse that was way to expensive considering how shitty it was. Spent the next couple nights bumming it around Kokopelli, kept our stuff in the storage room and slept in the hammocks/day beds. We managed to snag a bed at Loki, the hostal down the road, for a couple nights, which was really lucky considering that it was fully booked. Then we were able to check into Kokopelli and finally enjoy the comfort of having our own beds for a few nights before heading down to Lima to meet Lauren.

Lima was... less than exciting. We stayed at the Kokopelli there and didnt do too much except hang out around the hostal. Highlights included seeing two homies from Mancora and eating a delicious sandwich. And buying sandals after over a month of walking barefoot around Mancora. And obviously having Lauren join us !!! She arrived late at night and the next day we hopped on a bus to Cusco.

It was great to be back in Cusco, it still stands as one of my favorite cities Ive visited but it was soo cold. Not really but it definitely felt that way after being at the beach/in the sun for so long. We stayed at the kokopelli there for about a week. Itwas kind of strange to be there again, had lots of flashbacks of when I was there 3 months earlier with Maddy Estrella and Michelle. It was fun though, saw some familiar faces from last time I was there and also ran into a lot of friends from Mancora which was nice because I had people to hang out with while Lauren and Louie left for a couple days to do Machu Picchu. Highlights from Cusco included missing the Free Walking Tour because we went to the wrong plaza so instead doing our own loop up to Cristo Blanco and the Temple de la Luna (and getting caught in a hail storm), actually doing the Free Walking Tour with Heather (which included lots of free samples of food and drinks... it was long though, we left early after 3 hours), ummmm mind is drawing a blank. I realized that one of my favorite parts about travelling is running into and chilling with people I had met previously.

Our original plan was to get to Brazil via Bolivia, but the weather in Cusco inspired us to change our plans.... it took a lot of time to work out a legit alternative plan but after a lot of time we managed to figure one out. We decided to make the trek back up to Mancora and spend two weeks there working behind the bar to get the free accommdation/discounted food and drinks then head to Brazil via the Amazon River. It was a rough couple of days travelling, the bus ride from Cusco to Lima was manageable but it took longer than necessary. We were stopped for over an hour in the middle of the road (supposedly because of a mudslide but there were other cars passing us so that can~t have been right....). It ended up being 23 hours, and right when we got to Lima we had a two hour wait before hopping on another bus to Mancora that was about 18 hours. We finally made it to Mancora though and it was sooo good to be back. Not that I need to say that, Im pretty sure everyone knows how much I love that place. We made a day trip to a beach about a half hour away which made for a nice change of scenery. Other than that highlights included.... just being there. Even though we didnt do much the days went by quickly just because the company and atmosphere was so enjoyable.

Time to leave came too quickly. We had a flight out of Lima to Iquitos (biggest city unreachable by road, in the middle of the jungle in Peru) on the 28th. Our options for leaving Mancora were either on the 26th and spending a night in Lima, or leaving the 27th and potentially missing our flight. We took the risk and it worked out better than we could have hoped. Our bus driver booked it and we ended up making it to the airport 3 hours early. The flight to Iquitos was only a few hours and it was really cool... we watched the transition from city to mountains to jungle, it was incredible. Iquitos was an interesting city. We were there for literally only twelve hours, enough time to grab a meal, buy some hammocks for the boat ride to Brazil and sleep.

We had to wake up at 430 to make it to the dock before 530. We took a ten hour speedboat to the meeting point of Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. Got our exit stamps out of Peru then took a quick little boat ride over to Brazil where we were completely lost. We somehow managed to communicate our way to the immigration office (which was closed). From there we walked to a bank that didnt accept any of our cards but did have the nicest guy who walked us to a bank that did accept our cards and then walked us to a cheap hostal to stay at for the night. The hostal happened to be in Colombia, which was pretty funny. We crossed the street from Brazil to Colombia without realizing it. Border patrol was nonexistant. It was crazy, you cross the street and they speak a different language, follow a different time zone, and accept different currency. Pretty funny. Colombia was cool from what we saw. Got dinner and headed to bed early because we had to get up early to go to immigration, buy our boat tickets, get snacks, and wait for the boat. All went smoothly.

The boat ride from Tabatinga, Brazil to Manaus was sooo much fun. It was 3 nights. It was a huge 3 story boat, the top floor was just the chill area with a snack bar, the bottom two levels were the sleeping levels where everyone hung their hammock. We were on the middle level and I counted 111 hammocks. Bottom level was even more packed, it was double hammocked as in hammocks on top of hammocks. There wasnt much to do on the boat besides chill in the hammocks, read, make bracelets, and eat. The food was surprisingly good despite the fact that they served the same thing for lunch and dinner both days.... noodles, rice, beans, and meat. It was good though. Met some cool people and had a great time. I was really sad to get off the boat, it went by too quickly. The Amazon was incredible, so peaceful. It was massive too, soo wide. We didnt see any animals or anything but it was so relaxing just to sit and watch the jungle go by. Worst part was watching everyone throw their trash in the river.

Now we are in Manaus. Like Iquitos it~s a pretty interesting city.... We are staying in a hostal with all the other gringos from the boat which is pretty funny but also a lot of fun. First thing we did was get food (which was the same exact thing we had on the boat....) and take tour of the Teatro Amazonas which was beautiful. Carnaval doesnt start officially for another week but unofficially it started last night. There were sooo many people, such loud music. It was a good time. Today... not so much.

I went to the market this morning with Alex and John, two friends from the boat, which was really cool. Lots of things to buy (but we didnt get anything). We just got some food then came back to the hostal with the intention of going back to the market to take photos and buy things. Instead we ended up trying to go to these Botanical Gardens but the plan ended disastrously. The bus we were supposed to take didnt stop for us so we ended up just wandering around taking pictures of this random church like building. Someone there warned us to be careful (not sure what else he said considering our inability to speak portuguese), so we made our way back to the hostal. Things were pretty sketch, everything was closed because it was sunday and all the market like stands were shut down because it had been raining. I had a shoulder bag but I had it in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet in the rain. All of a sudden someone came up behind me and ripped the bag out of my hand. Alex realized what had happened and tried to grab the guy, she managed to knock him but he had already thrown my bag to his friend around the corner. I started to chase him down the street but stopped halfway because the situation was too sketch.... deserted street with 4 gringos and a whole bunch of locals. I made my way back to the others so devastated. It had all happened so quickly and all I could think about was the fact that my phone with all the photos I had taken since cusco.... over 600 in total was gone. All the locals around came to see what happened which made us nervous until we realized that they were trying to help us. One girl gave me water and the others told us to calm down and that they were going to try to get the bag. a couple minutes later one of them came back with my bag which had everything in it, including my money, debit card, scrapbook, and some other random things. Only thing missing was my phone :(

Im still in shock that it happened. It happened so quickly and was so sketch. It was awful. Ive never been so mad and pissed off at someone before, including the last time my bag was stolen a couple months ago. They could have the phone, it was just the photos I wanted. I had some gems on it. After the initial shock, frustration, and depression the only thing there was to do was accept what had happened and appreciate the fact that it could have been so much worse. We are all safe, Lauren and Louie have essentially the same photos, and I got everything else back. I couldnt believe the guy came back with my bag. Still cant believe it. Just a reminder that there are good and bad people in the world. And that Brazil is sketchhhhh. Gotta go watch the last 4 seconds of the super bowl.

Posted by alexascamp 18:24 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

day 108

mancora --> quito

The past 3 weeks at Kokopelli in Mancora were indescribably relaxing. Everyday was beautiful and sunny, there was one bad day and that was only because it was cloudy. Work wasnt work at all. It was making drinks, eating food, talking to people, and occasionally making drinks and ordering food for them. When I didnt have work I would spend the day by the pool, at the beach, or in my favorite hammock at the Loki hostel down the road. Perfect weather, amazing people, not a bad life.. The nights were fun, at Loki and Kokopelli there were events almost every night like beer pong, trivia, power hour, or just parties. After the hostel bars would close everyone would go to the beach where there were a few clubs.

Louie flew into Quito on Christmas night and the plan was to leave Mancora late Christmas Eve/Christmas morning to meet him at the airport but that didnt end up happening. I went to get my bus ticket on the 23rd and the guy at the office told me there were no buses running on the 24th or 25th.... eek. Was a little nervous about how things were going to work out, but I went back the next day and the woman told me that of course there was a bus leaving on Christmas. It actually ended up working out pretty well, had one more day in mancora and was able to spend christmas with friends rather than on a bus.

The bus ride turned out to be one of the best ones Ive been on. Got on at 11pm, passed out, woke up at the border two hours later, was the first person to get my passport stamped, got back on the bus and fell back asleep (apparently after me the computer got screwed up and it took an hour for the rest of the bus to get their stamps), woke up at 6am in Guayaquil to change buses, fell back asleep, woke up when we stopped for a meal around 1030am, then fell back asleep til we arrived in Quito. There was a Dutch couple on the bus that also left from Mancora so we did everything together and amazingly the hostel they were going to was one street away from mine so we were able to share a taxi.

Now Im with Louie!! Pretty exciting, I cant believe it. And I cant believe Lauren will be down here in two weeks as well. We didnt do anything last night, we were both pretty tired, just got food, played a game of pool (hard to decide who is better...), then went to sleep. The hostel we are at, Vibes, is pretty cool, there is a huge lounge area with a massive TV, pool table, fooseball, and bar. The only thing that was shitty was this Russian dude who hogged the computer the whole time. I will refrain from ranting although its really hard to resist. He was soo annoying.

Anyways, today was kind of stressful because we had to figure out our next move. The plan was to go to Banos for a couple days, then head to Montanita for new years, then stop in Mancora on the way down to Lima. Well apparently the volcano in Banos can erupt at any time so we could potentially be evacuated at any time. And Montanita is where everyone is going to for New Years so if you dont have a reservation you probably wont find one. Scrambled to find one with no luck, then decided it wouldnt be worth it to try and go anyways... literally going to be 5000 people on a beach/in a town that consists of.... 3 maybe 4 streets? So we figured we would cut our losses and just go straight to Mancora. Finding a place there online has proven just as difficult, but the chances of things working out there are much more likely. So thennn we had to find a bus. We went to three different offices, none of which had a ticket to where we wanted to go. Stress levels were rising but the fourth place we went to had a bus for us. Thank god. So bus tickets are booked for 9pm tonight.

AFter figuring that out we went to TeleferiQo which is a 4000 m high viewpoint of all of Quito. Quito is hugeeeee, it stretches for ages. It was beautiful. And now we are back at the hostel killing time until our bus tonight.

Im so stoked to go back to Mancora !! Should get off the computer, dont want to pull a Mr. Russia

Posted by alexascamp 13:36 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

day 87

mancora, peru

Not much to report. Made it down to Mancora with Drew, the two bus rides totalled about 8 hours but we had a 8 hour layover in a random border town. We got there around 5pm only to find out the bus to Mancora left at midnight. We wasted a couple hours then went back hoping for some good news that the bus was early, but got the opposite -- it wasnt going to come until 1 am. So we spent 8 hours sitting in the park, getting ice cream, eating shwarma (the guy was really cool, gave us a huge discount), walking around town (not that there was anything to see),going on the internet, and hanging out at the ice cream place because it fortunately had a TV. I got a hot chocolate there which was a terrible decision, the milk down here is weird... havent had any pretty much the whole time down here and I didnt even think about it being in the hot chocolate. Anyways, the rest of the layover was pretty miserable for me because my stomach was not down with the milk. Mom, good thing you loaded me with peptobismal.

We ended up getting into Mancora at like 4am on Friday night /saturday morning.

So we´ve been here forrr like 5 days? Im working as a bartender at Kokopelli for free accommodation and 40 percent off food and drinks. Its about a five minute walk to the beach. Mancora is really small, theres basically one main street and then another street off of it that leads to the beach and has a bunch of stores and restaurants on it. Things are cheap here, you can get a menu del dia for less than 10 soles, which is 4 dollars and its more than enough food. Been eating lots of ceviche, I miss the Ecuadorian ceviche though... Weather is beautiful here though, sunny all day everyday. And I get to walk barefoot !! Love it.

Everyone here is really nice. Theres like 7 other volunteers and they are all really cool, very friendly and welcoming, I already feel comfortable and at home here. The vibe is really relaxed, working is kind of joke. For example, Im ´working´right now. Things are sooo slow. We have five or six 6 hour shifts a week, im four hours into one and there is literally no one here. Kokopelli is pretty relaxed, most people go to Loki, another hostal like a 3 minute walk down the road, to hang out. The pool there is like 3 times as big and theres just a lot more space. I usually go there to hang out just so I dont spend all my time at Kokopelli. This probably isnt interesting at all but Im just so bored. I could clean or do something productive but to be honest Id rather just be bored and write uninteresting things here.

Hmmmm. I dont even have any more uninteresting things to say.... I guess Im going to go....

Posted by alexascamp 12:39 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

day 79

ecuador coast

We spent a few days in Atacames doing nothing but hanging out by the beach, eating ceviche, and wandering along the beach/bars at night. It was a lot of fun, really relaxing. Our next stop was Canoa, we had to take 3 different buses to get there which in total was about 7 hours I think.

Canoa was a much sleepier version of Atacames. There wasnt loud music blasting all day, and there werent bars lined along the beach, but there was ceviche and a huge beach to spend the day at. We spent the first night in a hostel, made breakfast in the morning, then checked out and into a campsite around the corner. Camping has been a lot of fun the only thing is that theres never a place for us to just be. So we end up occupying random places, usually restaurants. We spent the day on the beach but it was kind of cold (we didnt really see sun all along the coast, it was nice in Atacames, just not sunny. Canoa was nice but got cold later in the day), so we moved to a restaurant and spent the evening reading, getting drinks and food, and just hanging out there til we wanted to go to sleep. We decided to move on to our next stop the following day because it was the middle of the week and there literally wasnt anything happening in Canoa. It was a nice town though, would have liked to spend more time there in the sun /when it was livelier.

Our plan was to spend a night camping on a beach near in Machalila, but when the bus dropped us off there we found out it was closed. So we hopped on another bus towards Montanita (another beach town further south), we had to connect to another bus which ended up being the same bus we were originally on... everyone recognized us and it was kind of embarassing because Im sure they were all wondering why we got off when we did. Anyways, finally made it to Montanita after another 3 buses totalling 8 hours.

We spent a week in Montanita. Loved everything about it except for mosquitos that ate us alive. We spent one night in a hostel because they told us there was hot water (which there wasnt). Moved the next day to a campsite which was the coolest campsite weve stayed at. There were a lot of people there, 2 hammocks, clean bathrooms, basically a luxury campsite.

Montanita is an awesome little town. Its pretty much a beach, one main street, and a couple streets perpendicular to it. Lots of artisanas, lots of tourists, but everyone was awesome, super friendly. Even just after a couple days of being there we would walk down the street and run into new friends. We actually ran into two Spanish dudes we met in Atacames so we ended up making Thanksgiving dinner with them at their hostal. Their hostel was super chill and the people were good fun so Star and Maddy moved there from the campsite and I followed suit after another night of camping. All in all Montanita was basically the same things we had been doing all along the coast just in a different place... lots of ceviche (had it everyday, at first we were going to this one place that was superrr cheap, ceviche for 4 dollars and daily special meals for only a dollar fifty. Then michelle went to the bathroom and saw things a customer doesnt want to see in a kitchen so we stopped going there...), beach days (although not very sunny, but the water was soo nice), and just lots of chilling in general. We were going to go snorkeling one day but we woke up too late, and we were supposed to go horseback riding but the guy stood us up twice, and the third time we stood him up. We made chocolate chip cookies to sell one day, spent 14 dollars on the ingredients, made a round of 17 cookies then went out to sell them and the girl who worked at the hostal told us we werent allowed to use the kitchen to make things to sell. But she let us sell the ones we had already made so we made a grand profit of 1 dollar each. But then we got to eat the rest of the cookies we made for free so cant really complain.

Trying to think of other things to report.... nothing too exciting has happened though. Weve basically just been enjoying our last days together. We left Montanita yesterday and are in Cuenca now, a city more inland. Michelle ran into her friend Drew in Montanita so he came with us here. Were parting ways on Friday though, Drew and I are headed to Mancora and Mich Maddy and Estrella are headed to Banos and then Quito before flying home :( looking forward to a new experience but definitely gonna miss my travel buddies.

Today we actually woke up early (730) and made it to the bus station to catch a 9am bus to Ingapirca, the biggest ruins in Ecuador. Originally inhabited by Canaris but taken over by the Incas.. we got a guide for free and it was really interesting. The ruins were beautiful. Its amazing what people hundreds of years ago created. It was a two hour bus ride there and back, and on the way back there was a hugeee thunderstorm, like visible rods of lightening, crazy loud thunder, and lots of hail. It was crazy but by the time we were back in Cuenca it had subsided so we managed to get some much needed food without getting drenched. The rest of the day weve just spent hanging out. We went in search of a film festival but couldnt find it so ended up just going to a restaurant then a hookah bar. And now Im here.

Its really hard to translate everything Im seeing, experiencing, and learning through a blog. The people Ive met and the kindness and friendliness theyve shown is indescribable. The way people live here is so different than at home, life isnt about making as much money as possible or being the best, its about meeting people, learning new things, doing what satisfies you and ultimately just living life. Life is so much simpler and easier to enjoy. Im only halfway through my travels but even now just thinking about home is crazy. When I went to South Africa I had more culture shock coming back home than going there, and I know its going to be the exact same but even more so when I come home in 3 months. Its gonna be weird. But I am stoked to go to my favorite food places, we talk about the food we want from home a lotttt.

Posted by alexascamp 19:12 Archived in Ecuador Comments (3)

day 68

lima, mancora, ecuador

The bus ride to lima suckeddddd. It was about 21 hours total. We picked the front 4 seats on the bus because those tend to be the best ones.... of course the one time we actually get them they turn out to be literally the worst seats. Reclining the seats made the bottom of the seat slanted so it was really uncomfortable, and the whole drive was windy because it was through the Andes. Didnt matter to the bus driver though apparently because he was whizzing around the curves. But we finally made it.

We only spent one night in Lima. Maddys friend Amanda is studying there so she and her roomie showed us around. Star and I were still recovering from the busride basically the whole time we were in Lima. The others went out in Barranco, we slept for like 12 hours. They ate delicious ceviche, we ate kinda gross potatoes and chicken. They went to a water fountain garden, we watched TV.

Next stop was Trujillo, a beach city like 8 hours north of Lima. We got there early morning and took a taxi to Huanchaco which was a sleepy little beach town about 10 minutes away. Great place, really relaxed, literally all there is to do is go to the beach. Our hostel was right across the street from the beach so we dropped our stuff there and spent the rest of the day at the beach. And taking pictures with people who were fascinated by us. Met some pretty cool people, including a couple from Cape Town who had some great travel stories. We only spent one night at the hostel, but it was pretty much our base the whole time we were there. Watched the election there with the receptionist who was wasted and freaking out about Obama losing. Then left our stuff there and went to camp on the beach. Right after we set up our tent a po came by and told us we couldnt camp there and we had to go to theend of the beach, so we literally just pickd up the tent and walked ten minutes with it to where we could camp. Woke up and got surf boards from the hostel, but it wasnt very successful. The waves were way too powerful.

We went from Trujillo to Mancora (took a while to find a bus though, almost had to spend the night in Trujillo), which was AMAZING. It was actual paradise. Beautiful weather, incredible hostel literally on the beach. So much fun it was hard to leave. Small town otherwise, basically one main street. Really chill vibes. We were there for 3 nights but we didnt do too much besides sit by the pool during the day and go out at night. Literally every day we said we were going to do something, go see the turtles, go surfing, go to the lighthouse to watch sunset, but none of those things ever happened. We were toooo relaxed. The hostel we stayed at was really nice, it was only 12 dollars a night but would have been at least 50 or 60 in the states. The people there were cool too so overall it was just a really fun time. Best story was Maddy and a homie getting encountering police on the beach that made them pay 100 soles (like 40 bucks) only to find out after that they werent real police. Michelle made friends with basically all the artisanas there. Lots of cheap beer and delicious cheap food. My nose ring fell out. Star and I dominated at beer pong. That pretty much sums it up our time there.

From Mancora we took a 16 or so hour bus to Quito. We stayed with Mich and Stars family there for a couple nights. Awesome people, great family. So generous and kind, they treated us too well. Made us so much good food... arroz con leche, plantan chips, soup, ceviche, empanadas. We stayed with their tia, who lived below their prima and her family. Every night their tio Hyme would come over to hang out and be on his blackberry. We went out one night with two other primos which was a lot of fun, besides the creeper who would not stop bothering me. Quito is like a big version of Cusco, definitely has more ofa big city feel. So much traffic. It was beautiful though. The weather was so unpredictable. there was sun, clouds, rain, thunder and lightening, humidity, the works. We spent the first day just chilling at the house. Next day we went with their tio washington and tia judy to the thermal baths. Or at least thats where we were headed, but the road was closed so we went to el mitad del mundo instead (3rd unsuccessful attempt to go to thermal baths, clearly we are not destined to go). The equator was cool, but it wasnt the actual equator, which was interesting. The real one is apparently a lot less touristy. The third day we were there we explored Quito, went to the Presidents Palace, wandered some of the craft markets and went to la ronda to drink candeleza, a warm drink which was interesting. We had hot wine later that night which was delicious.

Now we are making our way down the coast. We are in Atacames now, got here last night. Checked into a hostel acros the street from the beach. There are bars/cabanas all along the beach. Constant loud music, huge beach, lots of people. The water is soooo nice, we went in last night and it was legitimately warm. It was a fun but long night, we didnt wake up til 2 today. Went straight to the beach to get ceviche which was so delicious. And now Im here. Its so hot. Its not that sunny, just hot. Gotta get off the comp, been on for toooo long. I cant believe ive been here for 68 days. Time is flyinggggg

Posted by alexascamp 14:16 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

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