Getting The Drug Criminal Treatment On The Way To Peru

Mancora Beach

I’m not necessarily against drug use. I am a libertarian, and I believe people should be able to do what they want with their bodies. But, I didn’t have any drugs on me, nor did anyone else on my bus, including the one hippy-looking guy. That didn’t stop the Ecuadorian police from stopping us over and over and over again while we were on our way out of the otherwise very enjoyable country of Ecuador.

At the time, I was fresh off a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Also, before departing Cuenca, Ecuador, I indulged in spa treatment, a massage and a mud bath. My body and mind were refreshed, and I was excited about the days ahead I would spend with a friend in Mancora, Peru, a renowned South American party town (More on that later…).

Mancora Peru

When we boarded our night bus full of backpackers from Cuenca to Mancora, we didn’t know what an ordeal we were in for. With a little daylight, the journey is actually a beautiful one. You traverse mountains on your way down to the Peruvian Pacific Coast. Unfortunately, we got more daylight than we wanted. That was due to what we went through in the darkness of the Ecuadorian night.

The drive to the Peruvian border was supposed to take about 4 hours. It took about 8 hours. The bus was stopped not once, not twice, not three times, but six times by Ecuadorian federal police searching for drugs. Each time, everyone had to get off the bus, unload their bags and stand facing the bus with their hands up against the side of the vehicle.

There is no TSA in South America. But pat downs can be a frequent occurrence, and in the off chance that uncoordinated police are targeting your bus in a seemingly coordinated fashion, pat downs become a very common occurrence.

Each time we were stopped and stood up against the bus, we received pat downs. Each time the police patted us down and searched our bags they did not find anything — at least nothing that they were looking for. No cocaine, not even marijuana. Nothing.

The one aforementioned hippy-looking guy did undergo added difficulties — extra-long pat downs and searches, as well as questioning. But the Ecuadorian federales found nothing on him, nor in his possession.

By the end of the bus ride, we were joking that the we were on the safest bus on earth. The bus was so clean that everyone on board could have passed a urine test. Well, maybe not.

Mancora Peru

Of course, the adventure did not end with the end of the bus ride. While staying at a notorious party hostel in Mancora, a town known for having an abundance of drugs, I found myself in a dicey situation.

It was nighttime, and I was with an unnamed person. We were alone on the beach — a place in Mancora that tourists are not supposed to frequent at night due to the supposed danger. Flashlights appeared, and a pat down ensued by a blushing policeman. I was clean. The person I was with was also let go – Brazil citizenship rather than Peruvian helped. We were startled, though, as we were escorted back to my hostel.

Mancora Peru

For those of you with curious minds, I might fill you in on the details of my Mancora beach encounter in a future post. For now, let’s just say I had an exciting few days in the Peruvian beach town. And neither the excitement, nor police attention, nor even lack of sleep stopped me from delivering a remote seminar on digital nation-states. It turned into a big talk on free private cities, seasteading and starting new nations on the blockchain. Despite my anarchic ways, I can assure you I am not a drug criminal. But if you don’t believe me, ask the Ecuadorian and Peruvian police. In Mancora you are not searched 6 times – you only go to prison after being caught 6 times…


Stay: Nothing tops staying in the notorious Loki Backpackers directly at the beach. They have great booze and food with decent prices, but you should afford your own apartment with a terrace to at least get some sleep as their are theme parties happening every night until the early morning. Dorms 8€, Private 28€.


Eat: Nothing particularly to recommed in Mancora – only the Ceviche. Unfortunately, I am a seafood allergic – but my travel buddy still praises it.


Drink: Make an effort and actually leave Łokis. There are some beach bars located just around the Loki Hostel where drinks are cheaper and better. Just go where there are actually people.


See: There is not much to see in Mancora – but in daylight you may walk around the crumbling town which is basically a big slum with some party hostels in it. Stay in a group – some parts of town should even be avoided by day.


Do: Rent a jetski – you probably cannot do it cheaper than here (10$ for 15min). But beware of the waves – they are rather suited for surfing.


Date: Tinder works surprisingly well for this little shantytown, but you should speak Spanish. Being in a party hostel makes it rather easy to have an affair with eager backpackers – but dont go to the dark side of the beach at night!


Go there: I already filled you in on the details of the bus ride. It is around 8h from Cuenca, Ecuador. Being in Peru you may fly to the border town Piura and take a 2-3h bus ride. We chartered a taxi to there for around 25$ as we missed the bus.


Go next: Northern Peru sadly is much less discovered than the southern part of the country. Yet there are beautiful landscapes, colourful colonial cities and impressive ruins to discover. Our trip contined to Chicklayo and Trujillo on the coast and Cajamarca in the mountains before flying to Lima.