Go to Máncora.
Don’t go to Máncora.
I heard both of these sentences so many times while we were in Peru, and the worst part is, I listened to them. For weeks, I casually flip-flopped over whether or not we should stop in Máncora, a notorious ‘party town’ on Peru’s northern coast.
Jared and I, we’re not partiers. My days of staying up until sunrise are largely behind me, as are wearing short shorts and speaking loudly in public.
OK. Sometimes I’m still loud.
But in the end, we decided to go to Máncora. Rumor had it that the town had a nice beach and warm, sunny weather. Plus, the buses went straight there and I’m a sucker for convenience.
I’m American. It’s something I’ll never shake – a desire for convenience and a life-long love of Dairy Queen.
So we went, and I was incredibly glad we did. As beach destinations go, it wasn’t spectacular, but it worked. We continued our days of lounging around, soaking up the sun (while wearing a hat and SPF 45), drinking 4 X 10 beers ($4) and doing basically nothing.
And I remembered the golden rule of travel: a place is what you make of it.
We stayed at Laguna Surf Camp, away from the action of the main beach. There were hammocks, a dog and a cat, simple bungalows, and the sound of the ocean crashing 75 meters away.
Jared rented a board. I tested out every hammock with my copy of “The Motorcycle Diaries” and lived in my swimsuit/sarong combo. We befriended the cat and doberman puppy, ate mangoes whole, found a lady who sold amazing slices of cake for one sole, and generally continued our relaxation session from Huanchaco.
There was a full moon party, but we didn’t go. There were crowded bars and drunken tourists, but we were in bed long before they hit the streets. I can see why people might not be sold on Máncora – it’s kind of dusty and basic, and both of us got slight food poisoning from the restaurants near the bus station – but for me, it was a nice little spot to kick back for a few days.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to go back there, but if you’re looking for sun, sand, ocean, and convenience, Máncora just might fit the bill.