3 June 2017
Ecuador, beautiful Ecuador! We have lost our hearts in this gorgeous, green country. Crossing that border from Peru into Ecuador was like driving over the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. Worlds apart.
We spent our first night in the town of Zumba in an old fashioned hotel with rock hard beds and dirty linen. We were exhausted from two excruciating days on the road, so we didn’t even care. The shower was lukewarm and flooded the bathroom, but that was fine too. We only spent a few short hours there before hitting the road again, this time busing it to Cuenca.
As the road snaked up and down the green mountains, Jarik and I took turns hanging out the windows to try and capture the beauty surrounding us. As crazy and uncomfortable as these bus rides are, they are totally worth it for the view. If you can manage to keep your head up and not vomit all over the bus or wet your pants as they never stop for bathroom breaks, you actually get a pretty good view of the country. Not that you can capture it on film for sharing with anyone afterwards, though. It’s way too bumpy for that!!
Once again we were the only non-locals on the bus, and once again we were the only ones begging for toilet stops. To be fair, the locals hop on and off in different towns, so quickly the bus never stops moving, but we were there for the entire journey. I marvelled at the poor old ladies, who could hardly walk, being shoved on and off the bus at the speed of light. “Vamos!” and off we go again.
It is winter in Ecuador, and even though it is shorts and t-shirt weather, the locals on the bus wear long sleeves and shouts “frio!!” (cold) when you open a window. You can at most get away with opening that blessed window for thirty short seconds before getting reprimanded. Even when it’s just a slither for some oxygen. First world problems, I know!! But for someone suffering severe motion sickness on the best of rides, this gets a little rough.
We arrived in Cuenca late at night and walked a few kilometres from the bus station to our hostel. The streets close to the town centre where we stayed are lovely and interesting with ornate, colourful buildings. Quiet on weeknights. Tramlines are being constructed in two main roads. That will ad even more charm to this lovely little city.
All six of us absolutely loved Cuenca. We spent three nights in a gorgeous old building with beautiful wooden features and old fashioned pressed ceilings. Stunning, stunning, stunning!!! Breakfast was included, which is a rare treat for us.
We spent our first day exploring the city and it’s beautiful cathedrals. We found our way into beautiful, old buildings and interesting markets. I seized the opportunity when we stumbled upon a cheap hairdresser/ beauty salon. It took quite a bit of convincing to have my eyebrows tinted. The lady could not for the life of her believe that I wanted my blonde eyebrows dark. I think she’s still in shock.
The next day we had an early start to do a big hike in a nearby national park. The staff at the registration office tried their very best to deter us from doing the longest, most difficult track. That’s the normal reaction to our four young children, so we know exactly how to deal with it by now.
The walk was spectacular! I loved every minute of it! We had it all, clouds, mist rain and a brief moment of sunshine. I discovered my favourite wild flower. It’s called Andean tulips and it is everywhere along that walk. We veered off the path several times only to discover more of these beauties hiding in the grass. I find it amazing that most of these will never be seen and enjoyed by anyone.
We never saw another human being the whole way. We did, however, cross paths with a bunch of lamas. What a great experience!
By the time we faced our next bus journey from Cuenca to Baños we could happily have stayed another few days. So far Cuenca has been our favourite city. It keeps getting better and better!