So here we are, sitting 20 feet from the beach in Mancora, a two block slice of paradise a few hours south of Ecuador, but let´s start from where we left off...
After the 20 hours of travel from NYC to Huanchaco, we spent 2 lovely (yet chilly and cloudy) days there, exploring the sleepy beach town and admiring the canoes hand-woven from reeds that the fisherman use to catch our yummy ceviche dinners. Pic below.
Next we went to the pre-Incan ruins at Chan Chan. The Chimu civilization existed on the coast of northern Peru and southern Ecuador for hundreds of years prior to Incan subjugation. Our sweet little tour guide tried really hard to teach us all about the Chimu in English but some things were definitely lost in translation. What we came out of it was that most of the ruins are reconstructed (well, redetailed) and that when a king died, they built a new palace for the new king and sealed off the old one, each time (for 23 kings). Below is a pic of the sanctuary. It was pretty impressive to see the scope of building from this moon-worshipping culture. Deanna´s favorite part was the sacrificial lagoon in the middle of the palace with 12´high reeds and lotus flowers (as traded for from Polyneasian merchants).
After that, we took a 7-hour bus ride east through switchback trails up into the Andes until we got to the 9000´high town of Cajamarca, noted for being the city in which Pisarro executed Atahualpa in the main square, thus crushing the Incan empire. Pic of the Plaza del Armas is below. Aaron got nailed with altitude sickness and Deanna got ¨New York Pizza¨ to nurse him back. Thank god that our hostel had a TV that we hooked our ipod into and were able to watch 2 movies and 4 episodes of 24 (season 4... see, NewsCorpians? Deanna is catching up!).
After exploring the bustling town, we embarked on what we thought was just a tour of pre-Incan aqueducts up at 13000´. It turned out to be a breathtaking 5km hike through amazing rock formations leading to the unbelievably engineered 3000 year old aqueducts. Our tour was completely in Spanish, so we never fully grasped the dirty limericks our guide kept making up (though thanks to a German tourist, we got the unrhymed versions). The rocks were spectacular, and we played the ¨name that cloud¨ game with them (in Spanish) and the whole tour group had a collectively dirty mind. Below is a pic of the us on one of the rocks.
Then we got out of the mountains with an overnight bus to a morning bus to an afternoon bus that finally put us here in Paradise. In Mancora, there is a beach, kite surfing, seafood, backgammon and tons of backpackers lounging around. And Bobby D. He´s here for a month to become an expert kite surfer. Good to have a friendly around! The rest of you better meet us somewhere soon...
If there´s any place to get knocked out of commission with a stomach bug, Hostal del Wawa certainly is the place. Deanna went through 10 hours of extreme hell, but is now back to eating the freshest tuna out there (sans red dye). Our hostel is literally on the great beach, has great food, plays great music, has great people, has great everything, and only costs $15 a night. Half the fellow travelers have been stuck here, some for 4 weeks, with no plans on leaving any time soon. As for us, it was hard to pull the trigger, but we bought plane tickets for tomorrow morning to head down to Machu Picchu.
The water is warm and the sun is about to set, beckoning us back to the water. We miss you all and we´ll get back in touch after Machu Picchu. Please let us know what´s shaking back home... we´d love to get emails from you.