12.06.2007 - 13.06.2007 14 °C
Tuesday 12th June - Piura to Loja
Up earlyish as we're leaving Peru today, and crossing the border into Ecuador (our last land border crossing on this trip - must say that all the crossings we've had in South America have been generally really easy. Sometimes they've taken a little longer if we've been on a crowded bus. Pleased that we haven't had any of the awkward situations that you read about - no-one has asked us for money, or nothing of our things/currency been 'impounded').
Anyway, bus gets away just after 9.30am, and we have 8 hours ahead of us. Meet Brighton-living German Catja at the bus terminal and chat throughout the trip. We're off to Cancun for the last two weeks of our year trip, and she doesn't give it the best review, and apparently the shopping is crap....uh-oh.
The border crossing here was fine, and we were glad to avoid the Peru/Ecuador border crossing over in Tumbes, nearer the coast. Have heard several independent stories about shenanigans there - border guards confiscating supposedly dud currency, dodgy taxi drivers (seemingly on the Ecuador side).
The bus ride takes us out of the dry and flat desert up into the lush highlands. Nice views as the bus makes it's way along the edge of the road, and at times we pass distant valleys with low lying clouds beneath us - wish we could stop and admire the view, just for 5 minutes.
On arriving at Loja, simple job of getting the three of us into town, just a few minutes and $1 taxi ride to Hotel Metropolitano. Room there fine, though no breakfast included, and $12 each.
Little more than dropped off the bags and met with Catja and the three of us tracked down some dinner, a nearby pizza restaurant. First salad in a while, very nice, and Paul thought he'd gone for a small 4 slice pizza, which was huge. Cue doggy bag, well, box.
Again, tired after the journey and all of us happy to retire to bed (separately), and we'll meet up with Catja in the morning.
Wednesday 13th June - Loja to Cuenca
Moving on today, heading to Cuenca, about 5 hours north.
Meet up with Catja for breakfast at 9.30 and make our way to the 'juice' place, followed by some internet time.
Actually, that should read 'waste of internet time' - appallingly slow connection, worse than dialup - tearing our hair out, and having to pay for the privilege.
Our bus leaves at 1.30pm, so grab a taxi at 12.45 so we're there in plenty of time, and can secure a ticket. We usually book in advance, but lately the buses seem to be quite empty, and fewer and fewer tourists.
We're fine for the tickets, and it's $7.50 each for the 5 hour ride. Catja joined us in the taxi to the terminal to buy her ticket for the overnight bus to Quito tonight - don't envy the 14 hours.
Said our goodbyes and took a seat in the outside waiting area - bus left pretty much on time.
Journey uneventful, though a poor little girl across the aisle from us was (physically) poorly, and we were pleased to help out by offering the grandparents our roll of toilet paper and a plastic bag to put the, er, stuff into. Not sure if there was something going on out of town, but a lot of the local folk on board were dressed up in their traditional clothes. Got a nice 'safe journey' from the grandparents we helped out.
Arrived in Cuenca early evening - wet, dark and chilly. Didn't notice until the next day, but the taxi that brought us to the hotel had an oily boot, well, it did until our packs helped soak it up.
We chose to check out Hotel Milan, just 2 blocks from the main square/park and immediately pleased. USD20 a night, with breakfast, our own bathroom, TV (no CNN!) and even a safe, so pleased that we don't have to carry around all our valuables for a few days.
Had dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant (El Pedregal Azteca) - nice bit of grub, though they add tax and service to the bill, an extra 22%, though the food and service both good, also enjoyed our first beer in a while.
Tired after another mostly travelling day, so an early night.
continues on next thread...