Scot sent an e-mail titled "Máncora is the bomb," which was enough for me to catch the next bus to this coastal town two hours south of the Peru/Ecuador border. Máncora is a one street seaside town; to one side houses, shops and hostels sit between the road and a sandy hill. The other side sits between the road and the beach and proportions were slightly tipped to seafood restaurants, perhaps because they were closer to the source.
One reason Scot liked Máncora so much is "Las Olas," one of the few hostals with access directly to the beach. PHOTO of my Máncora room.
My idea was to have a totally lazy and relaxed time in Máncora, to take a break from the museums, ruins and tours (see last dozen entries). While I managed to sit on the beach, doze in a hammock and take many naps, I was also edgy and antsy. I was having a great deal of difficulty deciding where to go next, and when faced with Ecuador, this is a major problem. Why? Ecuador is small, a third the size of Peru. It also has beautiful beaches, marvelous mountains and the exotic jungle. I was already on a beach, but wanted to spend more time in the sun and sand. Only two things in the Ecuadorian mountains captured my interest; the small hot spring town of Baños and the capital, Quito. In addition, I had a plan to spend a lot of time in the jungle. The thought of going to the Galapagos also started to creep into my head after having put that idea out of my head months earlier.
Any one of these fantastic Ecuadorian regions (beach, mountain, jungle or island) is within hours of the others, including the Galapagos. It was easy to be able to move around, and unlike Peru or Chile, there was no particular route or order to visit Ecuador. I read my guidebook repeatedly and talked with every backpacker who had just come down from the north.
Also staying at Las Olas was a couple from Texas, Cori and Chad. PHOTO of Scot, Cori and Chad I had a fantastic time talking with then because they actually had thoughts and ideas outside of typical backpacker small talk "Where are you from?" and "How long are your traveling for?" Cori and Chad own a seasonal business that gives them a huge chunk of free time every other year. As nice as Máncora was, I just couldn't sit still. Cori and Chad were moving on as well, so we caught a bus into Ecuador together.