Visiting Sandra in Lima

A bit of the history

You know you have done something good in your past life, when the universe sends you a friend like Sandra in the time you need it the most.

It was 2004, I was recently single and wanted a change. I didn’t feel like staying any longer in Ecuador; I was ready to travel. Australia seemed like the perfect place to go. No, I didn’t think about how far away from Ecuador it was, or how expensive the plane tickets were; I only thought about the good surf, wonderful wildlife and the nice weather.

I was in Lima at the time for my friend’s wedding and once I made up my mind about going to Australia, I decided to stay in Lima, because some friends had put me in contact with this agency that could help me do all my applications and paperwork from there. We didn’t have a place like this in Ecuador yet.

One night, in a dark nightclub, I ran into this girl that I had met briefly a year ago in Montanita. It was Sandra.  We started talking and realized we were both applying to go to Australia with the same agent so decided to meet up the next day and go together to see him and talk about our plans.

And that’s how our friendship started. From then on, we spent lots of time together and at the beginning of 2005 we travelled to the Gold Coast of Australia to study a Masters in International Tourism. At one point we were living in the same apartment,  studying the same thing, sharing a car and working at the same place; all of these, without any problems or discussions. We were like sisters and I can honestly say, that I don’t think I could’ve survived those first two years without her.

Time passed by and we both took different roads. I went on travelling and left Australia for over a year. She moved to France and got married. We’ve kept in touch all of these years and I will always remember that wonderful time together on the Gold Coast. And that’s why, when I knew she had gone back to Peru, I needed to go and visit her.

Back to the present

We spent a total of two weeks with Sandra in Lima and although we hadn’t seen each other in five years and hadn’t been keeping in touch that often, it was like we’d never been apart. Mick and I had a wonderful time with her and her family. We spent some time in Lima and did some sightseeing. Although we both had visited the city before it was nice to be back there. We used the new system of transport called the metrovia to get us from Sandra’s house into the city centre avoiding all the traffic. We went to Barranco and walked around Miraflores. We also visited some other good friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time, like Lalo, who had just got a new baby and Claudia and my aunt Lili, who are like family to me.

Sandra is now a yoga teacher, so I joined a few of her classes and also went to the yoga school where she practices at. Sandra does Ashtanga Yoga and especially the Mysore  style as taught by Pattabhi Jois. In Australia, I had participated in a few Ashtanga Led classes but I had never done Mysore. I found it very interesting and really loved seeing how much deeper my friend Sandra’s practice had become and how positive it has been for her life.

Whenever she had some time off from her yoga schedule, we would drive to Punta Hermosa where her father has a nice apartment on the beach. We surfed a couple of times in San Bartolo, Senoritas and Caballeros until the incident with the sea urchin in my toe nail happened.

While resting at the beach, I went to get some water to fill Kailani’s little pool up, and kicked a rock that happened to have a sea urchin on it, and was so “lucky” that I got it stuck between my toe nail and my skin at a place impossible for us to get it out from.

That night we visited the Medical Centre in Punta Hermosa and after lots of screaming and tears, the nice nurse told me that I needed a doctor to look at it, because she had been unsuccessful in her attempt. The following day, once back in Lima, we went to the hospital near the house and saw the doctor. Luckily he didn’t do much damage and got the sea creature out of my toe nail. I still have the scar of that incident on my right toe nail as a reminder that sea urchins can be very tricky and annoying.

After resting the foot for a few days, we were out and about again, this time to meet up with Tim and Loren, our Australian friends that we had met in Ayampe a few months back. They were on their way to Brazil to watch the World Cup and we coincidently were in Lima at the same time. We had dinner with them at a restaurant in Barranco, where we heard all the nice stories from their trip and enjoyed some good pizzas.

The two weeks went by so quickly. I was so grateful though to have spent this time with Sandra again and to meet Kailani her amazing little boy. He was so funny and cute and was beautiful to see her now at this new stage in her life as a mother. We said good-bye again but promised to keep more in touch. I left with a good feeling inside of knowing that our friendship was still intact. It was good to see how our lives had changed for the better and that we were more mature and a bit wiser than before. I thank you Sandra for your valuable friendship and know how lucky I am to have a friend like you in my life. Until next time!

Two days in Mancora

We had only planned for two days in Mancora therefore we wanted to make the most out of them. Although we had a difficult crossing and a hard night, we made sure to set up our alarm and wake up very early. Most and for all, we wanted to beat the crowds.

I didn’t know what to expect. It had been 6 years since my last time in Mancora and I had heard horror stories about the locals and crowds. Luckily, we were early enough to have it all to ourselves; 4 to 6 feet waves, glassy and fun. The water wasn’t too cold. Mick was surfing only with board shorts and I was wearing a spring suit; it was beautiful weather outside. We left right before it started to get crazy. And it did get crazy.

The main change I noticed in town was the boom of surf schools. I must admit I thought it was really clever what the locals were doing and how they were teaching the classes. Because the wave at Mancora is a point break, it is usually hard to teach a surf lesson to a beginner. A point break is usually harder to paddle into and the way the set up is in Mancora, there are not many sections to safely divide the experienced surfers to the beginners.

That’s why, the surf instructors are actually taking their students on their big Malibu boards. They wear flippers, sit on the back of the board kicking while the students lay down on the board and wait until the instructors tell them when to stand up. It’s a really good concept, because you get 90 percent more chances of standing up and having fun.

But I have to say, it’s complete madness being in the water once the surf schools paddle out, because most of the time they really don’t care if you are already surfing the wave, they just go and it really gets messy.  That day we stayed long enough to experience a bit of the crowd but we were happy that we had an hour and so to ourselves.

Mancora has grown a lot but for me, it has grown in a good way. In the past, I didn’t really like Mancora that much because I thought that the highway crossing right in the middle of the town, ruined the vibe a bit. But now, it’s actually ok. There’s so many nice restaurants, so many options of different cuisines, great places to stay and a fun atmosphere. I did think the bars that are right next to the beach are a bit too much, each of them playing different music one louder than the other. But there are options for everyone’s taste.

We had a great time in Mancora. We ate some great food and were excited to know that we could eat cheaply like in Ecuador. In Peru you have the option of the “Menu” it’s like a set meal for a very cheap price. I love Peruvian food, if you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend it!

In the afternoon of our first day, we decided to go for a walk to the pier where all the fishermen were. On our way back, we were a bit hungry so we stopped in town for a bite to eat. While we were on one of the side roads we saw a little dog limping. It looked like his legs were paralyse or not responding. He also looked like he wanted to vomit all the time. An old man saw us watching this poor dog, stood next to us and said: “You should take him to a vet. He’s not well. I think he must’ve eaten a fish bone and he’s chocking to death”.

Dear me, that old man, had found the right girl to tell all these things too. Immediately, I looked at Mick and he knew, that one more time, he needed to support me on my crazy rescue missions. (Yes, this hasn’t been the first one!) So, on we went. We took a moto taxi and told the driver to take us to the nearest vet. “It’s ok, little guy, you’ll be fine.” I whispered to the dog.

Five minutes later, we were at the vet’s door. It was a nice young lady and she asked us to come in. She seemed very calm and collected. I explained to her the situation and told her we were really worried and wanted to help him.  She had a good look at the dog, and then looked at us and said: “This is not the first time this dog has been brought here. He’s fine. I think this dog , in the past, has suffered from tick paralysis and that’s why he’s the way he is. But he’s fine. Look at his fur, it’s all shiny and clean. He must even have an owner now, because I see him better than before”.

Mick and I felt relieved but also a bit silly. We thanked the vet and jumped back in the moto taxi with the dog. On the way back to town, we kept imagining what the dog must have been thinking. How many times, concerned tourists must have brought him to vets around town. If the dog could speak he was probably saying: Not again! Leave me be. I’m fine! I just want to get some food from the streets!. We left the dog where we found him, and went on and got something to eat ourselves.

The next day, we woke up early again and the swell had picked up a bit. We couldn’t believe how good the waves were and we were this time the first ones in the water. We had a blast, surfed until we were hungry enough to go and get some breakfast at the hotel. The rest of the day we spent it around the pool at Kimba’s Bungallows (beautiful place to stay at!) and in the afternoon, we packed and got ready to get our bus straight to Lima.

If you ever do the trip from Ecuador to Lima I really recommend having a stop and breaking the trip up. Twenty four hours on a bus can make anyone go crazy and have a sore bum at the end!! Being honest with you, it was a hard enough 18 hours on the bus from Mancora to Lima, but we slept a lot and watched 10.000 movies. Some of the movies were in Spanish, but lucky for Mick, the steward was really friendly and he managed to find the ones with subtitles on.

We arrived safely to Lima. We were a couple of hours late so we took a taxi and went straight to my friend Sandra’s house. Once we got there, her mother told us, she had left to pick us up from the bus station. We’d miss her!!! So we called her and let her know we were already at her place. Half an hour later I was reunited with one of my best friends in the world, my sister from a different mother, who I hadn’t seen in 5 years. During these 5 years, she had become a mother so for the first time I was meeting her beautiful two year old son, Kailani. Moments to cherish forever!