On the culinary front I was introduced to a northern Peruvian specialty, the concha negra (black shell). The concha negra grows among the mangroves and tastes like a cross between an oyster and a scallop. Ceviche de conchas negras is to die for, and the things the guys at the local sushi bar were doing with conchas negras could make them world famous.
Our final hurrah was New Year’s Eve, when we got invited to a party at a hotel down the beach. We couldn’t scout the beach beforehand, so we sent the French girls as a shore party to guide us in. A handful of us motored about 5 miles down the coast from Mancora on Condesa, starting the celebrations onboard. At about 20 minutes to midnight we saw a tiny light flickering on the beach. We dropped anchor, charged in through the surf in the dinghy, and plunged into the party just before the countdown. Sunrise revealed the whole beachfront to be a minefield of rocks, tide pools, and crashing surf. It was only dumb luck that allowed us to stumble in the dark through the one break in the rocks and onto a patch of sand—a fitting end to our long run of good luck and happy surprises on this largely desolate coast.