Mancora, nothern Peru

Ten weeks into my travels, and I was starting to flag… I still had my pilgrim’s cough, was covered in mosquito bites from the jungle, and was yearning for a break from cheap hostels and constant decision-making. So I did what any responsible traveller would do, and headed for the beach.

Mancora is a coastal resort in northern Peru, famous for its friendly surfers. I checked into a surfers’ hostel, right on the beach. Perfect location, nightmare residents. On the second night, a gang of rowdy Peruvians were getting drunk in the courtyard. All night. Loud hammering on my door in the wee small hours, and a courtyard full of urine, vomit and broken glass in the morning.

Luckily rescue was at hand. I was invited to stay in a guest cottage on the property of a successful South African businessman. It was a few kilometres away geographically, and a world away in every other respect.

Gin and tonic aperitifs, delicious food prepared by our cook, fine wines, (and that was just lunchtime)… clean comfortable beds, power showers and fluffy towels… lying in a hammock, rocked by a gentle breeze, watching the pelicans flying in formation low over the waves, hummingbirds hovering around the hibiscus, horses cantering along the beach.

My host’s other guest was a famous Peruvian painter, and the three of us would sit of an evening, around the dinner table under the thatched gazebo, putting the world to rights by the light of the flickering candles.

Yup, it was tough.

But I can’t write a book about lying on a beach living a decadent Happy Valley lifestyle, and my book is my primary reason for being in Peru. It was time to get back to work. So after three days, batteries fully recharged and pilgrim’s cough finally gone, I had to bid my friends farewell and return to reality.

But a bit of luxury is good for the soul. If not for the liver.

(Photo at

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