Day 117 – 27 Jun, 2015
Upon arrival in Mancora, the first thing I noticed was how dirty and unkempt everything looked compared to my previous beach visit to Huanchaco. Tuk tuks lined the streets, puddles of sewage were everywhere, and raw meat hung from the ceilings of haphazard restaurants. The beach was crowded and narrow so that at high tide, the surf completely inundated the little bit of beach real estate that existed. I was disappointed, at best, but not surprised.
I had booked a hostel on the beach, Misfits, that consisted of individual bungalows with 6 beds each. The water throughout the property was unfiltered salt water and because the bungalows were on the beach, there was sand everywhere and in everything. I knew what to expect when I booked it. It had sounded a bit like beach camping with a bed, exactly the kind of grungy traveling I thrive on. Checking in to my room, I tried to neatly stack everything in a corner in an attempt to keep the sand out (to no avail). Within minutes, I was covered. It was impossible. Nevertheless, the bungalows were a great value considering we had our own private beach with hammocks and fresh croissants each morning.
I had my best meal in all of South America in Mancora. Tuna in a teriyaki sauce with toasted sesame seeds and wilted greens. On a whim, I agreed to go to La Sirena, a fancy restaurant well outside of my budget. I went with about 10 other travelers I met at Misfits, who are also, undoubtedly, on a budget so it was an unlikely choice but it had been a long time since I had “dressed up” and put on makeup. It felt like such a treat.
The beachside ceviche restaurants were also to-die-for. A plate of ceviche with Peru’s crispy corn kernels and plantain chips – I just couldn’t get enough! Delicious!
On the contrary, I also had my worst meal in Mancora. I stopped in for a Menu del Dia (menu of the day) at a crowded restaurant and ordered the standard quinoa soup, chicken with rice, and juice. The soup was watery and the chicken was so dry that I fed it to the stray dog who had been patiently waiting for just such an occasion. I looked around at the “crowded” restaurant and realized that everyone there was family. They were probably too scared to tell Grandma that her cooking sucks. Little did I know that Ecuador had many more poor meals in my future… La Sirena was all in my memory.