Published: August 13th 2007July 30th 2007
After saying a bleary-eyed, early morning goodbye to Jo and Brian we spent a few lazy days in Miraflores, the posh area of Lima. Our exciting activities included getting our laundry done and copying our camera memory cards to cd. We did manage to have a couple more Pisco Sours too.
The last long bus ride for a long, long time...
And what a fun one it was! 30 hours instead of 26, the noisiest snorer right behind us, a South Korean trying to have cheeky fags in front of us and a kid being sick in front of that. Add to that no aircon and loud movies (badly dubbed in spanish) and sweaty fake leather seats and you can start to imagine the fun we had leaving Peru.
The last few hours of the bus ride from Peru took us through the El Oro region of Ecuador - banana capital of the world. For hours all we seemed to see through the window was rows and rows of banana palms. The fruit in South America has mostly been amazing, especially in Brazil. Ecuador is another country
Can you tell what it is....
this little piggy went to market, and they sold his crown jewels!
where fruit is cheap and so tasty. Ang can't stop eating fresh passionfruit and Pete may have even managed to exceed his 5-a-day a couple of times.
We arrived in Guayaquil, peeled ourselves off our sticky bus seats and went straight to our pre-booked hostel for some sleep. So far we had only discussed a brief plan of where we would go in Ecuador during our final few weeks. We still had the vague hope of treating ourselves to a trip to the Galapagos Islands. We mentioned this hope to our hostel owner the next morning and, in less than an hour, had booked onto a half-price "first class" boat. Still a little over budget but who cares!! Grasp every opportunity!!
We head out to the Galapagos on 31st July, there were plenty of places to visit in the meantime...
Riobamba and its market - amazing fruit and veg, delicious spit roast meat and porky penises
Each Saturday, Riobamba's streets are filled with local market stalls which makes for a very interesting morning of wandering. We watched as old ladies bought brown bags full of little chicks, an old man was selling very active,
A Little Warning
Just to show why it is on Amber Warning the volcano let off a puff of ash and smoke - this picture taken from our hotel. The locals weren´t panicking so we guessed it was ok.
squeaking guinea pigs from an old corn sack and another elderly gent was dragged around by his squealing (pet?) pig. After buying a few avocados and passion fruit we ventured into the meat section of the market. There is very little waste in South American cooking and so you could really buy anything here. The bucket of cow brains was particularly grim, but not the worst. As we walked along the line of stalls we could see some body parts hung up - Pete thought they were intestines to start with, but we weren't convinced. After a few more moments of thought, and with a couple of the local ladies watching us with smiles on their faces, realisation dawned - urgh - pigs' penis and testicles anyone?!!!!
We left quite quickly for some air and on the way back to our room succumbed to a plate of the freshly spit roast pig (and watched as the lady cut our meat from the pìg's back and nowhere else).
Baños and the Incredible Vulk, Tungurahua
Baños is a very popular stop on the traveller route and, consequently, there are a wealth of hostels, cafes, bakeries, laundry services, book
Continuously on Amber Alert from Volcan Tungurahua
exchanges and travel agents. On arriving we decided we would like to stay a few nights and enjoy the thermal baths, nice hiking and loads of other outdoor activities. Rather too close to Baños is Tungurahua, a quite active volcano which means that Baños has been on "Amber Alert" for the past year or so. We spent our first morning walking to get a better view of the volcano but cloud covered the summit. During the afternoon, whilst relaxing on our hostel's rooftop veranda, we noticed a grey plume start to extend across the sky and realised the volcano was letting off a little " steam". Very exciting and slightly daunting. It would have been great to stay around a little longer in case Tungurahua got even more active but we decided we did not want to risk missing our Galapagos flight through getting cut off in Baños by a lava flow (as in Aug 2006) or a landslide (as in late June 2007). We didn't leave immediately - we made use of the thermal baths which Baños is famous for first and then grabbed our bags and caught the next bus out!
Guaranda - Stunning landscapes and
Standing at 6310m this is the furthest point fromt he centre of the earth - good pub quiz knowledge.
The road through Guaranda to Guayaquil is supposed to the most stunning in Ecuador so we made a slight detour through this town. The views of Chimborazo volcano (the farthest place from the earth's centre) on the way there were fantastic. Great timing to arrive in Guaranda- that night was fiesta time and the town is well known for its passion to celebrate. We joined the crowds in the streets watching maniacs run around holding models of cows and people decorated with lit fireworks. Next it was time for the main model to be let - a 30ft swaying cane-constructed model with homemade catherine wheels and rockets strapped to the top. It was hilarious to watch as fireworks shot off in all directions and noone seemed able to predict what would happen next. After a couple of fireworks shot towards the audience, Pete was hit by a flying, burning piece of cane and then the remains of a firework, we decided it was time to move back behind a car for protection. A few other people moved back too, but most people seemed to be happy to be showered in burning ash and remains of the fireworks
All aboard the Vomit Cruise
Ang was so proud to be in the minority of people not to throw up on the whale watching trip.
and stand. It was great to experience a little of the celebrations that South America are so famous for.
Leaving Guaranda and heading to Guayaquil was a great trip. The valleys are a patchwork of corn, cereals and lots of different types of veggies and it was interesting to see rural life in Ecuador.
A 12 hour day of bus trips from Guaranda and we had arrived in muddy Puerto Lopez. Famous for the nearby Machillas National Park and whale-watching it was fortunate we hadn't come here for the sunbathing. Its currently wet season here and the roads are just swamps of mud. We booked onto a 4 hour trip to go and see humpback whales which mate offshore between June and October. We were really lucky, for 2 reasons. Firstly, Pete doesn't get seasick and my tablets were very effective so we did not join the majority of the others by hanging our heads over the side of the boat. This meant we were able to enjoy the second bonus - 5 whales, one of which gave us a great display of jumping and splashing around. Definitely a worthwhile trip!!
Smile for the Camera
Possibly the happiest dead fish I have ever seen.
On the way back to Guayaquil we stopped for one night in Montañita, known for its world-class surf and chilled out atmosphere. We didn't really feel that we fit in here - our surfing is not too good and we don't "chill out" in the same way as the many hippies and travellers here. We were glad to only have one night here after having to get up at 3am and ask our returning neighbours not to put their music on full blast. Pass the slippers...
We're both really excited to be back in Guayaquil, not because of the city but because tomorrow morning we fly out to the Galapagos...woohoo...we are so lucky...
There are more photos below