Travels with V

Peru & Ecuador

Beach life with Orca​

Punta Sal, Mancora coast

July 2, Punta Sal. Not really sure what’s what here. Sometimes the area is called Cancas and the village Punta Sal. Sometimes it seems it’s the other way around. The nearest town is Mancora, a big vacation destination a few miles to the south. The region is called Tumbes, which is also the name of the nearest city.

On this coast Pizarro the conquistador landed with a few men in 1532 and was well received by the tribe that lived here. They were offered food and drinks. But one guy in Pizarro’s gang thought he saw a glimpse of gold in one of the huts, and the circus from hell started. The myth of El Dorado spread and when Pizarro returned a few months later he was joined by 150 soldiers. And he returned the hospitality by killing and stealing. The invasion had begun.

But where we are, in a cabana by the beach, bamboo walls and roof of grass, is all tranquility. A long sandy beach facing the Pacific Ocean with small crouching hotels, most of them empty. It’s the Peruvian winter, and what’s normal summer temperature for us is far too cold for them.

So we can wander on the empty beach and check the small waves crabs munching the sand and leaving behind a line of sandbullets. If disturbed they run like tumbleweed on their pointy little feet and flop down in a hole in the sand. 

We see mighty frigate birds soaring endlessly over the waves and when they see fish they fold their wings and fall like projectiles into the water.

If one bird is lucky enough to catch a fish nearby frigate birds change their tactics and go after the lucky one and try to make him let go of the catch. As soon as one bird has been able to swallow the catch all the others return to hunting the seas again.


In the fishing harbor of Cancas there is a black cloud of crazy frigate birds, pelicans and black vultures all swirling and running. A fisherman has emptied a bucket of fish offal on the beach and it’s every byrd for himself in the battle for the yummie scraps. And 50 meters off the shore we see the fins of an Orca following the scent of a dead sea lion washed ashore.

We just enjoy the sun, swim, eat and in the afternoons enjoy a couple of Cusqueno Doradas, a relatively low-alcohol beer brewed in Cusco but popular all over Peru. Time is of no matter to us. Yesterday we went down to Mancora to buy bus tickets, and the whole town was on it’s feet. Carousels and live bands, it was some kind of fishermen’s fiesta. And we had a great dinner in the John La Sirena restaurant. We’ve now got an eight hours long journey ahead of us.

Next we cross a border, watch lots of people die and head out straight into the Pacific, to land in an archipelago born in fire and lava.

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