Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back on the Run

Hey all, here's a quick update from Lima, Peru, a little over week after I started my trip.
Before making my way south to the border and on to Peru, I went on a 3-4 day backpacking trip on the Quilotoa Loop, which was awesome. It's supposedly a popular route for backpackers, but we hardly saw anyone else on the trail (no one, actually), just people in some of the hostels on the way. It's the perfect lazy backpacking trip because you stop and sleep and eat at beautiful little hostels with delicious food and cuddly cats. We cheated one length of the trip and took a camioneta because it was going to storm and we'd already hiked around the whole lake. The rest of the trip we hiked though. It was probably like 10 or so km per day. And beautiful. I highly recommend it. 
Afterwards, I parted ways with my friend who hiked with me and got on a night bus south, from Latacunga to a border town called Huayaquillas, which is close to Tumbes, Peru. I got there at 5am and promptly realized it was stupid to take that bus because everything was closed, so I had to change money with people for much less than normal, but otherwise everything went fine. It was a bit of a phantasmagoria; some taxi driver (who ripped me off, but charmingly), took me all over the place in what seemed like a few minutes. First to immigration, then to some random van, which then drove me to Mancora. All of this happened before 8am and on little sleep. I was nervous about my taxi driver, but some security guard vouched for him and he had his offical stamp. He kept telling me not to be scared and insisted that I hold his hand and repeat some sort of prayer with him. Then he asked me if I ever dated older men...sigh, welcome to Peru. 
Once in Mancora, I hopped on another bus, then in another van, then arrived in a desolate little surfing town (half ghost town), called Lobitos. I met my friends there and had a fun time catching up with them, then headed back to Mancora the next day and stayed a day after they left to do things like laundry and bus-ticket-purchasing. 
Anyway, I left Mancora yesterday and arrived in Lima today. On the way here there was mostly sand, the sort you see in a sandbox after a birthday party: random piles of sand, rocks, garbage, some oil drilling equipment, that sort of thing. 20 hour bus trips are probably ill-advised in general, but this one was hilarious. I sat on the upper level, with a group of disgruntled riders. The bus got off to a late start, consistently played horrible movies, two of which were in English for some reason, and in general resulted in a lot of people yelling at the driver and at each other. It would not be a true bus experience without a salesman, so true to form, we got a man telling us about the cure for cancer for the last 30 minutes. (It's some plant found in the north of Peru and made into tea, combined with things like not-smoking, not-drinking, and eating lots of papaya). There were choruses of VAMOS and stomping as well, true to form. 
I met a French and German couple who live in Quito and sort of forced them into adopting me as their travel companion. So far, so good. But tomorrow I'll leave them and head to Cusco. I liked Mancora alot, in a just-for-the-weekend, surfer town sort of way, but Lima is huge and smoggy and disorienting so far. I want to get out. 
In other news, my camera somehow broke without me removing it from my pocket...I can't have things. I'll try to steal pictures from other people. In the mean time, words will have to do. 

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