Travels with V
Peru & Ecuador
Beach life with Orca
Punta Sal, Mancora coast
July 2, Punta Sal. I’m 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. The europeans 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 like a disease 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.
Where we are staying, in a cabana by the beach, bamboo walls and roof of grass, it’s all tranquility. A long sandy beach facing the Pacific Ocean lined with a few small crouching hotels, most of them closed. It’s winter in Peru, and though it’s normal summer temperature for us is far too cold for the Peuvians.
We really only have one problem, and that’s pretty basic. Food. Our hotel is quite laid back with a Thai or Bali vibe, but their meals aren’t that great. Luckily there’s an open larger hotel some 100 meters down the beach, serving both lunches and dinners. That’s our salvation these days.
The peaceful routines are broken when there’s a World Cup football match between Sweden and Switzerland. We’d like to follow it but we don’t know how. But there’s a Swiss girl staying at the lodge and she has somehow found a transmission we can listen to. Sweden wins and the girl looks sour. She disappears and we don’t see her again.
So we wander along 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.
The air is full of mighty frigate birds soaring endlessly over the ocean waves. When they spot fish they fold their wings and fall like projectiles into the water.
If a bird is lucky enough to catch a fish nearby frigate birds immediately change their tactics and go after the lucky one, attacking him and trying 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.
In Punta Sal we just enjoy the sun, we swim, eat and in the afternoons enjoy a couple of Cusqueno Doradas, a low-alcohol beer brewed in Cusco but popular all over Peru. Time is of no concern to us. We visit Mancora to buy bus tickets, and find that the whole town is on its feet. Carousels and live bands, it is some kind of fishermen’s fiesta going on here. We have a great tuna dinner in the John La Sirena restaurant. And when it’s time to leave we’we 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.