Eating scorpions in Mexico, climbing volcanoes in Guatemala, surfing in Nicaragua, chasing sloths in Costa Rica, island hopping in Panama, dancing Rumba in Colombia, lifeguarding in Ecuador and more...

April 4, 2010

Mancora, primera experiencia Peruana

After Guayaquil I continued my journey with my new travelling partner Michelle. We took the cheapest bus possible that would take us accross the border and on our way to our next party town Mancora. The cheap bus was not the best idea, it stopped to pick people many times, it was hot and it was like a regular city bus with people standing for most of the ride. We were also a little bit scared since this is supposed to be one of the hardest border crossings, because it is dangerous, there are muggings and the immigration officers seemed to cause problems. To increase our fears, the security officer that was riding on our bus and checking people for weapons leaves the bus right before we get to the border.

Thankfully the border crossing went really well and we were even able to enjoy a delicious ice-cream while we waited for the bus to pick us up. As we crossed into Peru there was a clear change in the natural landscape, less and less green and more desert hills and we got closer to Mancora. Michelle had been to Mancora the previous year and one of her friend´s mom had a hostel called Laguna Camp where we stayed.

Michelle and I in the Tuc-Tuc on our way to the hostel

Laguna Camp

Staying at the Laguna Camp was great, we were so close to the beach and having Michelle as my partner in crime was perfect. We woke up every morning, went for a beach run and sit-ups session, had a healthy breakfast, smoothies, hung around during the day, layed in the hammocks,  had our daily Ceviche and juice, and went for afternoon swims. It was really nice to have a schedule again, be healthy, workout and have a partner to do it with. Even though Mancora is known as a party town, we did not party at all, it was a relaxing and great time of enjoying the beach and each other´s company without having to get too crazy.

Michelle letting me make my first hairwrap ever!!!

Satisfied costumer

Our local restaurant where we had Ceviche and Maracuyá juice

While in Mancora I received an e-mail from Max Goldstein saying that the Junior Lifeguards program that he had started in Lima would be ending that week and inviting me to come take part. I was really excited to see the amazing work he had done and decided to leave Mancora and head south towards Lima. But before I decided to make a few nature and ruins stop in northern Peru.

Guayaquil and Montañita, Ecuador

With our job done at Carnaval it was once again time to hit the road, this time I would be traveling south on the coast of Ecuador with 3 San Diego lifeguards. Michelle, Dan and Marcos. We decided the first spot to go was the party surf town of Montañita where other guards from Project Ecuador had worked during Carnaval. There we negotiated a beach front cabin for $5 a night each and went straight to the ocean.


Pepe ready to hit the surf

Montañita is a really fun party town with sand streets, artisans selling their art, juice stalls and lots of Argentinean and Chilean youngster looking for a good time in their vacation.

Tomate de Arbol, a bit sour but delicious!

Maracuyá y Fresa smoothies

Dinner before going out in the night at one of the many clubs
After a wonderful beach time, live reggae, delicious juices and Ceviche it was time to continue the journey. Dan would be flying home from Guayaquil and Marcos was on his way to the Galapagos so the four of us stopped at Gaby´s for one night and then Michelle and I continued to see the sights of Guayaquil and relex a bit before heading down to Peu.

Gaby and Miguel´s house

Making dinner

Crazy mango tree by their house. Small mangoes hanging down

Gaby and Miguel not only help with Project Ecuador but were amazing hosts at their home and we had a really fun time together. Cannot wait to show the smae hospitality when they come to visit California.
Snack time

Girls sleepover

Proyecto Ecuador, Manta y Crucita

I had heard about Project Ecuador while lifeguarding in Venice Beach during the summer. I explained to a friend the trip I was going on and he told me about the project and his experience from the previous year. To me it sounded like the perfect thing to do, I wnated to volunteer during my trip but didn´t want to spend too much time in one place since I really wanted to visit a lot of different places.

Project Ecuador was started by Paul Dunning in 2007 in order to assist Ecuador lifeguards with thei lifesaving needs. Since then the project has grown and every year more lifeguards join to train local lifeguards in Ecuador, provide lifesaving equipment, volunteer lifeguarding during Carnaval and work with local authorities and organizations to create lifeguarding jobs in Ecuador with the ultimate goal of Ecuador joining the International Lifesaving Association.

While everyone had met in Guayaquil after their flights and would be travelling together to Manta, I arrived by myself to the one hotel I knew would be housing some of us in the small beach community of Crucita. There I was greeted by one of the Davids who owned the adorable hotel. They called one of the city offices and while I was confused having no idea of where the rest of the team was Jorge Tapia came by to meet me and show me the beach where I would be working. Jorge was in charge of all of the volunteer lifeguards that would be working in Crucita during Carnaval which included local volunteers, the Fire Department, Red Cross and Civil Defense. All groups that would be working together to keep the beach safe during the holiday. Jorge was doing an amazing work of organizing all of the necessary preparations before Carnaval which included installing flags and painting lifeguard towers. And he was doing all of it without receiving any type of pay, all because he wanted the people to be safe swimming in the ocean.

After meeting Jorge he took me around town, explained who I would be working with and introduced me to my first Ceviche at his parent´s restaurant. It was delicious and I am now the biggest fan of Ceviche, as we ate and talked we waited for the rest of team from Project Ecuador to arrive in Crucita. A few hours later I had the pleasure of meeting Paul, Kerry and Mike all whom I would be working with and we discussed the next day´s training over a delicous dinner.

First meeting and planning for Carnaval

Breakfast at Jorge´s parents restaurant befor training

The Civil Defense Volunteers
Party bus arriving for Carnaval

Exploring Crucita

We began training by having a group meeting, explaining the goals of the project and what we would be doing during Carnaval. Everyone was very enthusiastic to work together and learn from each other. We talked about rescue and lifesaving techniques, did a few tests, drill and training in a hotel pool and then moved on to the beach for rescue training and to talk about strategies that would be used for Carnaval.

Using my Spanish skills in Beach training

Running drills

Loving it!

More teaching and training

The Crucita crew with new uniforms and equipment after training
Kerry , Mike, Paul, Jorge and I

Tower 2 during Carnaval. Where I was kindly served more delicious Ceviche for lunch

The first day of Carnaval in Crucita went smoothly and thankfully water conditions were on our side. Very successful beginning of Carnaval. And because it was Carnaval you can´t waork too hard and you must have a little fun, so we went out to celebrate with the locals and win a lot of foam fights!

You haven´t seen the competition, they looked much worse

Gaby- director of the project in Ecuador, Michelle from San Diego and I

Amazingly delicious dinner provided by Rey David after a hard day of work

The view of Crucita from the hill

It was decided that Crucita was doing well, with enough guards and training was successful so we would move to Manta, a much busier beach to support the other lifeguards who were working there.


The Fire Station where we slept

Post Carnaval celebrations with the crew

More foam for Macos´ birthday

Paul and the Mayor at the Town Hall meeting reviewing how Carvnaval went

The team with the Fire Chief and Hugo a Manta lifeguard

Last delicious seafood feast!

Working with Project Ecuador was absolutely incredible and I could not have asked for a better experience. It was great to see that we were helping and people were very happy to have us there. I was also very grateful to the amazing hospitality that I received from the whole city of Crucita, Rey David and especially Jorge. I cannot wait to come back next year,  see the project grow and visit my new friends who I had an amazing time in Ecuador with. 

For more information and photos from the Project please visit the official website at: