Frank and I re-united in the town of Chiclayo, almost 150 miles from where I had crashed. I accepted his apology and somewhat half baked excuse and tried to put the whole event behind me as we rode further North toward Mancora.
Flat desert once again surrounded us, sand dunes forming mere blips on the otherwise perfect horizon and a dry haze obscuring the road ahead. Condors circled above us, gracefully gliding on the thermals with their enormous wings outstretched, meticulously scanning this arid environment. I love the desert, something about that feeling of insignificance that it bestows upon you whether surrounded by miles and miles of dusty nothingness or basking below the millions of stars it unveils for you each night. This would be some of the last desert we would see on this journey and I would miss its elegance.
We were drawing ever closer to Ecuador and ever closer to the Equator. After crossing a large river flowing out into the Pacific, the desert was replaced with Palm trees, Banana plantations and fields of bright green crops. The humidity doubled and the once quiet highway quickly filled with trucks overloaded with freshly harvested fruit and crops. We were entering Peru’s tropical agricultural lands and everything was about to get a lot sweeter.
After swinging west towards the coast we finally reached the tiny surf town of Mancora and were soon surrounded by backpackers. It was a nice change of pace following so many days of “off the beaten track” exploring and even my bitterness towards Frank fizzled away in the calm beach vibe. Pedro, the friendly local sunglasses salesman/go-to guy/tour guide/drug dealer, greeted us and pointed us in the direction of the legendary Loci del Mar. We would go on to see him many times after that, walking the beach with his sandwich board of sunglasses, selling his various products.
Loci del Mar was everything we had heard and more, after several days staying in squalid hotels it was like an oasis of fun. Mostly resembling an Ibizan resort, the giant white washed hostel building overlooked a glistening pool and busy bar complete with plastic chairs and tables emblazoned with beer brands, the hallmark of every fun beach bar. The beach itself lay just beyond the hostel walls and met with the crashing waves of the ocean, the only good place to surf for 100’s of miles around.
Instantly drawn into its laid back charm we dropped all plans and forgot about the relative pressure of the journey and sunk into apathy. Looking around it seemed to be the main activity of Mancora as shipwrecked, dreadlocked gringo’s wandered the streets in a constant stoned haze that appeared to have been in effect for years. I often wonder how many of these people started out as gap year students with degrees under their belts, blowing off steam after a tough 4 years at university only to arrive at one of these places and discover cocaine cheaper than coca cola. The gringo trail is awash with them, each one an empty bed in a loving family home somewhere in the States or Europe. I guess they made their choice.
Frank and I spent our first couple of nights in the Loki, smoking and drinking our days away by the pool, on the beach or even locked up in our smoky dorm room with our Canadian roommates. That was until a Franklin brain wave took him out of the hostel and onto the beach where he pitched his tent for free in blissful ignorance. Such genius had propelled him many times and in the jumbled mind of Frank, it’s always a fool proof plan. On the day we came to leave however, frank was packing a lot lighter as the tent and all its contents had, of course, been stolen.