24.05.2016 - 28.05.2016 28 °C
After an amazing time in Cuzco, I was planning to spend a couple of days in Mancora in the North of Peru before crossing over to Ecuador. But my journey there was more complicated than planned... I had booked a direct night bus with Oltursa from Lima but no one told me (the hostel, the taxi, the guide book...) that there were 2 Oltursa bus stations. So when I turned up they said the bus was leaving from the other station at the other side of town and that I was probably going to miss it... I tried everything, asked them to call the station to get them to wait, got a cab there but missed it by 15min aaargh!! This was the last bus of the day so the only way for me to get there the next morning was to get the next bus to Piura (3h later) and then take a colectivo to get to Mancora. Which is what I did so I arrived safely in Mancora although later than I had planned!
I enjoyed the nice pool of the Loki del Mar hostel, although I realised that this was too much of a party hostel for me and I didn't feel like drinking and partying that night so I just had a nice dinner and went to bed early. The next day I met with Kristina, a Russian girl who I had met in Paracas and we went for a delicious lunch in an amazing restaurant, La Sirena d'Juan that we had both heard about. There we bumped into John, an American guy that Kristina had met the day before. We all went for a nice walk on the beach all the way to his hostel which had a much more chilled vibe and where I should probably had stayed! We had a relaxing afternoon there, chatting and swimming in the pool. We were all leaving that night so we decided to go back to the same restaurant for dinner since we liked it so much haha! I got the most amazing dish 'Slowly cooked pork, sweet and sour black beans sauce, lentil tacu tacu, caramelized bananas, rosemary oil and avocado salad' yummm... I joined Kristina and her friends and we all took a night bus to Cuenca: it was cheap but also probably one of the worst buses I've had, I barely slept!
The border crossing to Ecuador was smooth, and we arrived in Cuenca early in the morning. A big religious party was going on in town so there were sweets and cakes stands literally EVERYWHERE!! I've never seen such a profusion of sweet things in the same place, it was so tempting I couldn't resist haha... Cuenca is a pretty colonial town with a beautiful church and nice streets to walk around. I was so tired when we arrived there in the morning that I sadly forgot my hat in the top compartment on the bus... the same hat that has been following me through all my adventures (even though it was a cheap one)! But I actually found out that luckily for me, Cuenca is the best place in Ecuador and maybe in the world to buy a real 'paja toquilla' hat (wrongly called panama hat) - which is what I did at the famous Casa del Sombrero. We also went to the Pumapungo Museum where we learned a lot about the history of indigenous Ecuadorian tribes and where we saw some impressive shrunken heads (!) before continuing to the nearby park with its bright colourful parrots. I enjoyed a day around town on my own and went into the church courtyard where they had a little festival going on, with live music, tasting of local products, artisan gifts, and I tried arepas for the first time, a delicious corn-based dough filled with meat, beans, cheese, guacamole and spicy sauce hmmmm!
After 2 nice days I took a night bus to Quito in order to meet Sam who was meant to arrive from London the next morning. But his flight got cancelled... Luckily he managed to get on another flight arriving later that evening so I had one day to explore Quito on my own. I was very tired but decided to go on a walking tour in the morning which is always a nice way to discover a new city. We visited the market with all its funny local fruits (tree tomatoes anyone?) before exploring the historic centre. The main plaza is very charming, flanked by the great cathedral on one side and the presidential palace on the other, though no presidents live there anymore since 2 of them got killed in painful circumstances by angry people on the streets... We also saw some beautiful churches as well as the pretty calle de la Ronda, with its colourful streets, lively restaurants and artisan shops.
I then got back to the hotel for a nap and some relaxing time. I just had to be patient and wait for Sam to arrive. It was amazing to see him after almost 5 months... We had a lot to catch up on so didn't go to sleep until late, but then it was already time to go to catch our flight for the Galapagos!!...
So as you might have guessed, next post (which is almost ready) will be on our amazing Galapagos adventure! Stay tuned for more stories and pics