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.