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Ace's Adventure A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles


NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 30 May 2010 | Views [843] | Comments [1]

Well it has been too long since the last update, heaps to fill you in on…good and bad so here goes.

We left Medellin columbia and bid farewell to our friends we met there. It was then two flights to arrive in Quito Ecuador. We then jumped on this shuttle to get to the bus station. That was an experience, it was rush hour, it was jam packed full of locals, and here is us with our bags and boards trying to negotiate the masses. They all staring at us like we were aliens, ecuadorians are typically very short also that I was used to though as it felt a lot like a duthie family reunion.

We then hit the bus station where we booked a bus to manta, I saw this lone guy with a board and had a yarn to him. He was a german by the name of lars, and he decided to tag along with us. Which was good it was another spanish speaking friend we could leech off haha. It was an eight hour trip to the town of manta. We arrived and lars and I ditch the bags in a hotel, thorny was a bit tired so he crashed. We went grabbed our boards and went to a small tuna fishing village called san mateo, where there is an epic left hander. Unfortunately the waves were very small, but we got wet anyway. The set up had so much potential. We headed back to manta, realising it was a shit hole, we negotiated a small rate for the room we didn’t use, and got on a bus to head down the coast. It is a beautiful stretch of coast with nice beaches, and the swell was bigger around the corner. We stopped for a night somewhere, had an average surf. But the next stop Las Tunas was awesome. We had an cool hostel set up right on the beach, with great rooms and I could wake up sit up, look out the window and see the waves. We had three or four days here with fun beach break waves. We also found this epic little restaurant with massive portions, and good seafood. A plate of wahoo or calimari and chips rice and a salad, which would give swashies a run for its money costs around $4-5 US.

From here we headed to the town of montinita, I was really looking forward to this place, home to a right hand point break and a good party scene it was heaven for an all too long sober, natural footer like myself. We arrived and decided not to stay in the bustling hub and get a place down by the point, another wake up and look at the surf joby it was a good set up. 500m down the beach was the town, sorta just plonked on the beachfront. With a few main roads with bars restaurants and the like, the main road to the beach had cocktail alley, where you could warm up with all sorts of cocktails sold from stalls on the street. The surf got really good, a 150m long right hander. We had fun nights out with lars before he left, and then more with mike who we met in columbia. It is sort of a sureal place, there are heaps of stray dogs and you see them rooting all over the show. One time right out infront of the restaurant where we were eating we got the whole show…I never knew dogs get stuck together when the job is done. Apartently the males penis swells and they cant separate, they were stuck like that for 20 minutes. The poor bastard was pretty sore afterward and limped a few feet before licking himself better. I met a cool argentian chick who I hung out with a bit, so that was fun till the last night where too many cocktails led me to making a bit of a mess of the situation, ah well live and learn.

The next stop was Mancora, Peru  another 8 hours down the coast. We stayed at the loki hostel there, there are a chain of these throughout south america, they are big, and more of a party hostel. This one in Mancora was a monster, looking like a 5 star resort. However with not much else in the town it ends up being a bit like a prison. You wouldn’t know you were in peru as you eat burgers speak english everywhere and basically never leave as it is all too easy fun and comfortable in the hostel. I had one fun little surf on the left point reefy thing out front. Had two good nights out, the black and white party was fun, face paint included. I got pretty sick for the last day and night which sucked. Aparently there was a bit of a stomache bug around, mike got it too.

We escaped the madness of mancora, to Labitos which is basically the polar opposite. The place used to have a lot going on there due to a large US army base that was built there. Howver they left, Perus army took it over, then they sorta just let it go to shit. There is nothing in the town, 2 restaurants that sell either chicken/fish and rice which gets old quick. We stayed in old army barraks which has been converted into a surf camp, it is run down, structurally unsound, and they have these tents set up on the top floor. It is pretty cool really, never seen anything like it. But definitely a change to where we had come from. There is a sick set up for surfing with a point, pier and piscinas. But unfortunately we didn’t score it too epic as the sand wasn’t in the right place and the swell small. I was still feeling kinda average here about 60% as my stomache was a bit unpset and eating nothing but bread for breakfast and not much else available didn’t help.

Then the shit hit the fan. We left lobitos on a overnight 8 hour bus trip, took our sleeping pills and arrived to pacas mayo at 530am, feeling tired and drowsey we just wanted to get to our hostel. We got offered a lift by these two young motor taxi drivers. They were friendly and helpful. 2 minutes later, I we had no bags anymore, thorny no surfboard, me no camera passport. As we went round a corner one ran off the back with one of our bags, thorny chased, I got out to see what was goiung on and the driver took off, I chased, grabbed my board off roof but that was it. We had nothing, it was dark cold and I guess we were scared, angry, confused. Anyway with help from some local people and some new friends, who were surfers and could speak spanish we got the message to the cops but they did fuck all really. Anyway the next three days were spent talking to cops, home to org a new passport and cards, looking into insurance, buying new clothes and all that. After those three days were were kinda over it and looking to put it behind us. Luckily old huey stepped in and sent a solid 4-6 foot swell up the coast. We had this for 3 days and I have never seen waves like it, we were up at 5am each morning to walk out the point, the waves break along this for about 1.5 km. I had the longest waves of my life, you can do 15 turns, rest on the wave, and do some more till your legs are jelly it was epic. During this time our story appeared in the paper. We got a good response with the local rich, godfather type figuremeeting us and taking us to the chief of police, this started a weird chain of events, with us going on a raid with some detectives and trying to identify suspects, but nothing came of it. When the surf started dying it was time to go so we went with our friend dave and georgie on a bus 8 hours to lima, spent 6 hours there chilling and went to the movies…robin hood….it was cool. Then we had a 23 hour bus trip to cusco.

Coming from sea level up to the height of cusco it was hard to breath, especially as our hostel was at the top of these outrageous steps. We had a night out here, and checked out the city, it was pretty beautiful with nice buildings and a good plaza…u know all the boring stuff. The reason for being here is to get to machu pichu which we booked, and had a 4 day 3 night tour set up with our new friends, dallas, koli, Zead, Ang, and adi. We left at 7am 2 hours up to the top of this mountain where we then biked 4 hours down through the clouds, it was fast and cold over rivers, along cliffs, onto dirt road and then to our first stop Santa Maria, we watched the English boys play footy against the locals. Had a couple then it was an early night for the 6am start the next day. Day 2 was a big trek out of town, along the river, up into the hills, via the monkey house with the weird hamster wombat hybrid then to a portion of the inca trail. This was amazing, the path and steps are teetering on the edge of the cliff, and it is pretty awe inspiring to think that the incas used these to travel huge distances, between countries. It was then down to this little place for lunch, spag bog. After that me and thorny and the eng boys jumped on a van to get to the next place. The trek was along the road from there so didn’t mind too much going by car. It gave me a chance to sit next to the cross on the hill and have a beer while watching the sunset. That night our guide opened up a bit and prompted us into getting on the piss, that along with Hayden and leah a couple we met on the trek, and tequila led to a series of events including line out lifts, rafter dancing, broken sinks, some stomaches being emptied and a sore head for the 7am start and trek the next day. This trek was along an awesome valley, with a big river, waterfalls, bridges and a glimpse of machu pichu on the hill at the end before getting into agua caliente, the town at machu pichu. This town is deep in the mountains in the middle of nowhere, But it has everything from flash 5 star hotels to cheap hostels.  So Machu Pichu is open all day, however Wayna Pichu the mountain just next to it, that you want to get up for the view of machu pichu has limits. Only 400 people can go up there, on a first in first served basis. So you have to get up early to make sure you are in with a chance. We left at 4am, climbed the 1700 steps, I was going for it setting a good pace. Ideally you want to be 199th person and get there just before it opened. However I got a bit competitive and ended up there buggered but 4th in line and had to wait an hour in the dark and cold to get my stamp and get in. Ah well, it meant I saw the sunrise. Our first walk through the ruins and there was this eery mist, it was pretty cool and it didn’t seem real, we climbed more up wayna pichu, on some steep dodgy stairs through a cave and once at the summit we saw the breath taking view of the ruins and mountains. From up there you get a true feel for where you areand how special the place is. It took 100 years to build the town of machu pichu, considering the location it was an incredible feat and the inca history and way of life was ahead of its time. We had a tour of the ruins next and learnt heaps about the inca culture and machu pichu, kings, pumas, snakes, condors, human sacrifice, alpacas….its all there. After that Dallas the aussie dragged me unwillingly all over the mountain to the inca bridge and up to the sun gate, for more to see adding another 2 hours of hiking about though, pretty buggered by now. It was time to head down and I don’t know why but we got supped motivated and ran down the steep steps all 1700 of them. It should take about an hour, we did it in 18 minuts, even beating one of the buses down the hill. We definitely earnt our coke and pizza at the bottom, then became stiff and sore. We had an awesome group for the tour with some good laughs. After a train, van and bus ride we were back in cusco and had a big sleep. Next night we toasted the trip in the appropriate manner with our tour group and hit the town for cheap rum and cokes, bad dancing and a good time. Next day I watched movies.

Sam and I bid farewell to the team, as I had a date with my new passport coming up. But we will see them further down the track in Bolivia. We got a ride to the town of Combapata, where dave and julies uncle Don is a priest. It is to him we got sent my new passport and cards. Don is a kiwi but has been a priest in south America for 32 years. He has an amazing commitment and duty to the people of the area, I have never met someone like him before, and I have loads of respect and awe for what he does. There was a great kindhearted bunch of people staying there who we joined at meal times and we had a good laugh that broke through the language barrier.

Don took us out with him on some of his missions, we soon realized that he is a bit of a dag and we had some good laughs, he also has the energy of a man below his years. We were invited by don to go up to a highland village at 630 the next day. So there we were heading up the worst rocky road I have seen in my life in the back of a 22 year old land cruiser crossing rivers and climbing mountains.to a height of about 4800m above sea level. I now know why athletes train at high altitude. Up here in thois baron landscape there is a school and a small village. The people partly rely on world vision and the church to survive. The faith that these people have is extrodinary. We joined the community for the service Don provided, the church was packed. We were then we were given a meal, whole fried fish, rice and salad, I loved it. But needless to say sams fish found a way to swim onto my plate where it was welcomed and dispatched. We were a bit of a novelty here as I am guessing we were the first tourists to the are, and Don was a rockstar. The whole town followed us as we walked out to the car, and I shook about 30 kids hands before I could get in the car. The whole experience really opened my eyes and made me realize what I had kinda started to feel AR (after robbery). Which was that you don’t need much to be happy and live a good life, there is a lot being wasted out there. Don’t worry Dad despite my longer hair and beard I am not a hippy yet. It was then a 2 hour sore bummed journey back to town. After tea, soup, rice and spuds (dons favourite). Sam and I decided to pull our weight and help out, so infront of an audience of 150 school kids and 30 adults who found it very amusing, we went about chopping wood which is to be used to fuel the fire they cook for the masses over. OK so I haven’t done too much wood chopping, neither had sam so there was definitely a bit of a learning curve. Luckily the people couldn’t speak English as there were more than a few expletives being yelled as we came within inches of cutting our legs off. Late that afternoon we rested, and I was getting a little nervous as to whether my passport would ever arrive. The sun went down, and we had been in Peru too long. But low and behold at 6pm don hurried in excitedly with two packages, 1 passport and 2 cards later I was back in the game. Thank you ASB, internal affars and mum and dad. We could now get moving to Bolivia and continue the Journey. The next day we got a bus bid farewell to Father Don with many thanks, and that’s where I am writing this now (well on paper not online) on our way to Puno on the shores of lake Titicaca. We will hit the floating islands, then Copacabana, then to La Paz. Outside the bus window it looks like the Otago highlands, except alpaca not sheep and I am relieved that life can move one properly AR.

Until next time.

Ace x

Tags: machu pichu, priest, surf, trekking



Loved your story. I remember kids running down that hill to beat the bus. Boy you must go for it! My sister and brother in law are finally back. They flew from Cusco to NZ with a doctor after a month in the Cusco private hospital. (A taxi driver went over the cliff edge to miss a bus).The perforated lung problem for Jim was the worst but both had cracked ruibs. I couldn't believe that Cusco is now a big city. In 77 it was a small town! xx

  Margie Jun 6, 2010 7:01 AM

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