A day of buses was in order to get from Paracas to Lima and then on to Guayaquil, Ecuador. I only had about half an hour to make my connection at a completely different bus terminal but it all worked out. I traveled for about 30 long hours in total but the buses were decent and they played surprisingly good movies along the way up the Peruvian coastline. There was one town called Mancora in the very north of Peru where I really debated getting of the bus and spending a few days. It looked like a very relaxing beach party town but in the end I realized that I wasn't in the mood to hang out on the beach and do nothing. Getting through customs was the usual long wait in a sweltering room with two guys manning the desk but only one working, of course. Once across, it was all banana plantations lining the roads for miles and all the bug bunches were growing inside big clear blue plastic bags. Poor, poor bananas, how do they breathe?
We arrived in Guayaquil about 3 hours later than expected. It had just turned dark but I figured it was safe enough so I flagged down a bus headed for the downtown area and knocked everyone about with my backpack while I tried to find a seat. There don't seem to be any real bus stops here. You just flag down one of the hundreds of buses passing by and get ready to run on a trajectory to where you think you can best climb on as they slow down and then hit the accelerator and take of again. Getting off the bus was a nightmare. I tagain hit everyone with my bag, some twice, but I was lucky to get off only a few blocks from my crappy hotel where they showed me up to my shoe closet of a room. I took a wander to the nearby main square and found a small movie theatre where MI:3 was starting in only half an hour. What great luck!
I got up early to wander the town which was a bit of a mistake. Nothing here opens until 9:30am. I was looking for a Galapagos scuba diving operator but found that they weren't just opening late. They were closed. On a Saturday. Nice. I checked out another agency that was open but they seemed really shady. Enough of that. I headed around the town to check out the sites. First stop: Park Bolivar to check out the beautiful cathedral. I arrived to find lots of locals and tourists in the park but no one was looking at the Cathedral. I wandered over to find out what was so interesting and almost tripped over a giant iguana like thing. There were about 20 of them hanging out in the park, climbing trees and leaning towards people to request a nice head rub. I walked back towards the hotel through the market and found some super strong hair straightening stuff that I immediately took back to the hotel and applied to my out of control hair. It was so dry in Bolivia and southern Peru that I didn't have to do anything to my hair, it would just dry bone straight. But in the last week or so I've barely been able to comb it.
After a quick and horrible lunch I accidentally took the wrong bus and in trying to find my way I stumbled upon a beauty salon. Manicure + Pedicure for $5 = Happy Sanyu. I walked carefully from there to the giant white city cemetary. It wasn't like the famous cemetary in Buenos Aires where only the rich and powerful are buried. This one had everything from imposing mausoleums to tiny cubbyholes. I hiked back to town and made it to the theatre in time to catch one of the many sold out showings of the Davinci Code (I'd bought my ticket earlier in the day, thank heavens).
I tried to get up super early the next day to catch the bus to Cuenca but 6:30am was all my body could manage. I arrived a little after 11am. Itwas a Sunday so everything was dead. No worries, Cuenca is a beautiful old colonial town with amazing markets and churches for the eye to behold. Unfortunately it is also a very small place and I was done my sightseeing well before 2pm. I spent a little time on Internet and then back at the hostel watching crappy TV programs until about 10 new people showed up at the hostel fresh off the Devil's Nose train ride. We all headed out for dinner and then over to Park Calderon where the army was giving a little nighttime brass band performance.
My last day in Cuenca. I'd pretty much done everything on the LP list. I had breakfast in the market at a stall where a woman presided over a whole roasted pig. She gave me a little taste and I was hooked. I walked out of the town center to take a look at a large yellow and red church that I had seen the top of from my hostal but it was much less exciting in person. The rest of the day been spent in and out of Internet cafes trying to figure out the logistics of the rest of my trip. Thank heavens Internet is cheap here. Only a few more months to go. How to stuff it all in. I'm still not sure but to all my friends and family who keep asking me, yes, I will be home soon. I promise.