After a night bus to Huanchaco we arrived spaced out and sleep deprived. So now starved and needing a coffee hit we headed off in search of somewhere to fit the bill. Some fruit and coffee later and we decided to head to Chan Chan an archeological sight near by. Safe to say it was not our cup of tea and without a guide to explain what we were looking at we ended up just discussing in depth what out next tattoos would be whilst wandering aimlessly and taking funny photos.
Which was not a good idea and just ended with us being escorted out.
That night we were surround by pissed up surfers and decided if you can’t beat em join em… this was a bad idea as hours later after rounds of blind Jenga we were loaded in to a taxi by a rather sensible 18 year old who wanted to make sure we got home ok. Despite this we only managed to stay in the taxi for a few seconds before we bundled out horrified by the price. And opted for a stagger home instead only stopping to devour burgers with the locals looking pretty classy with mayonnaise down our chins and Daisy’s bleeding knee. The next morning feeling like I had just been dragged out of a lamas arse and with a serious case of dry mouth I just about managed to drag myself out to the balcony. So I could die with a nice view at least.
That day was spent staring off at the walls of various cafes as we ate like bottomless pits, swearing we will never drink again.
Next stop Huaraz for some mountain treks!
Our flight back to the mainland was a turbulent death trap most of which was caused by our coffee shakes. The flight operated like a bus where once at Guayaquil we disembarked with only half the passengers as the others stayed aboard for the next stop Quito. We got straight on a night bus to Tumbes Peru and against all advice crossed South America’s most dangerous boarder at night. We hopped off the bus at immigration where there was a power cut and we stood in the dark the only light the bored staffs phones illuminating their faces as they scrolled social media, until the systems rebooted. Finally we were cleared and got back on our bus and drove through a refugee camp with Venezuelans sleeping rough and in tents. The boarders all over South America have seemed overwhelmed with refugees. We swapped busses in Tumbes and boarded the only bus leaving at this time of night. A bus run by some very obviously coked up men. At least 5 of them were wedged in the cockpit chain smoking and aggressively chewing on god knows what! So 2am tired and pissed off we arrive in Mancora with nowhere to stay.
Mancora is the Peruvian equivalent to Palomino (Colombia) but minus the power cuts. It has a laid back hippy vibe that bubbles over in to a party town at night. The beaches are long stretches with only a scattering of bodies.
There are plenty of food options and we have tried the £2 set menus all over town. Whole bbq fish, Chinese inspired Peruvian classics and ice cream coffees to die for.
We’ve spent our days lazing on the beach soaking up the sun or covering ourselves in mud at the mud baths trying to calm the sunburn. This being the only time it is acceptable to roll in the mud sober.
We have leisurely nibbled our way around town enjoying the slow paced lifestyle after our jam packed Ecuadorean escapades. In the evening we have enjoyed a few beers or pisco sours watching the town come to life, but quickly sneak off to bed before our minds become hazy. Being the good girls our friends back home didn’t think existed.
Throughout our stay I have been discussing ideas with a local tattooist and tonight before our night bus my ideas shall come alive.
Baños has a small town feel to it buried high up in the mountains. The first night our hostel was lacking in dorm beds so we were upgraded to a private room and all for the same price as I cheekily suggested, proving my mum was always right when she said don’t ask and you won’t get. That night I ate a two course meal and drank half a bottle of wine, whilst Daisy sat across the table from me feeling ill but politely nodding along to my tipsy ramblings.
The next morning we rented bikes and set off on a 17km bike ride along a busy road with no helmets and in the pissing it down rain. We passed four beautiful waterfalls before arriving at Pailon del Diablo. Where we stared mesmerised as the crashing water resembled the flames of a fire and the spray the smoke rising in thick patterns before hitting the rocks. Now soaked to the skin from the ride we resembled drowned rats. And opted for a lift back in a pickup where we squelched in our shoes and my jeans felt at least two sizes smaller making me feel as though I had been sectioned in my own clothes.
Now absolutely starved we rode around town in search of some lunch. I got distracted by a veggie looking place, nearly dropped my bag, slammed on the brakes so hard that I nearly went over the handle bars. It Was a close shave but a great find of Avo burrito! So was totally worth the bruised shin.
That night we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Healthy Cafe the food was to die for. We ordered two different curries and both were amazing and even better washed down with a bottle of red. So now drunk, full and ranted out we stumbled home.
After an unproductive day we went for dinner in an amazing Spanish place Tascos! The tapas were amazing and all the surrounding tables, us and the owner friendlily conversed between courses. When we got back to the hostel we found the place a complete mad house, the already strange residents were even stranger with the addition of beer pong and brightly coloured wigs. They couldn’t understand us brits being sober and kept trying to pressure tequila shots on us, until we locked ourselves in a dark room and tried to watch a film that was intermittently interrupted by strange shadows opening the door.
The next morning we went to Casa Arbol for some not so high adrenaline but super cheep swings and zip lines. With lots of time to kill before our night bus we went for some Chinese massages where I was manoeuvred like a piece of meat being aggressively rubbed up. So now sufficiently tenderised we headed off to the city ready for our flight to the Galápagos Islands.
An early start at 6am and we set off for Cotopaxi the second largest active volcano in the world.
And then on to Quilotoa an amazing volcano with a lake in its centre.
There is not much I can say about either of these that the photos don’t say themselves.
Cotopaxi is huge and intimidating whilst stood at the base, but the higher we scaled the more energised and giddy we became. Dressed like creepy Arabs layered up with sarongs and headbands we must have looked a real sight!At 15953feet we shared a coca tea wishing we had the time and equipment to continue to the top! Because we certainly weren’t lacking in enthusiasm.
Quilotoa is one of the best views I have ever seen so calm was the water and silent were the hills, it’s crazy that this place wasn’t roaming with tourists but we were grateful for the lack of an audience after we boldly left the group behind and descended down in to the volcano, only to run out of time and have to scramble back up panting and seriously debating an air ambulance.
The bus drive back we jumped out at a roundabout and switched busses to one going onward to Baños. Following the always room for one more rule I sat on the floor by the drivers feet and talked taxes with the driver.
The journey to Ecuador was very eventful including a lost purse, a nights stay in a hotel you usually pay for by the hour, a recovered purse and a very long road they call trampoline of the dead. And rightly so as it’s so high up in the mountains their is absolutely no visibility and a huge mountain drop to one side. So narrow that when you meet oncoming traffic somebody’s reversing skills are seriously tested as they manoeuvre around blind corners dodging the fallen down trees and boulders.
A quick stop at Otavalo that we both agree was overpriced and the market not all it was hyped up to be. So after a quick walk around we got a local bus to Laguna San Pablo, we both agreed that although the lagoon was beautiful it would look better from above so instead of paying for a very bleak looking boat trip, we began scaling the closest mountain. Feeling pretty unfit as we finally reached the top panting and collapsing on the surrounding rocks.
We got back to town and jumped on a bus to Quito hoping to find some new friends, sick of the sound of each other’s voices after days of travelling. But instead ended up making an enemy in the owner of our hostel (bad) Vibes. The owner was the kind of person who moved and talked like he was constantly bored.
After our first night I work up eaten by bed bugs again! And when I politely took the owner to one side to let him know they had a problem he instantly accused me of lying despite the obvious evidence. Told me I probably had a skin condition and practically kicked us out threatening to blacklist us in the hostel world so no one would take us in. We left in a state of shock, walked around the corner and checked in to Colour house.
The owner was amazing and not only had all of our clothes washed, dried and back with us within hours , but also arranged our tours for us for the next day and all cheeper than Vibes.
That evening we went to the historical centre of town which is amazing! Beautiful building surround the local square filled with benches of content locals taking in their surroundings. We ate in Cafeteria Modelo a busy place where we tried some local classics. One of which being Locra a potato, cheese and avocado soup. It was lovely.
That night after sharing a giant beer us lightweights were drunk and stumbled home lost with the giggles.
So although the bus was still an hour late it almost felt early in comparison to the usual three hour late busses. We checked straight in to Casa De Nelly the prettiest hostel, where the owner was a cornucopia of information for our route to Ecuador, and the place instantly felt like home.
After a nice dinner in town, we set off on the walk uphill back to the hostel, only to have a pizza delivery guy who was conveniently driving there anyway offer us a lift. What luck! As I was drifting off that night I heard a kufufflae and muttering from Daisy’s direction. I looked over to see a very startled Daisy batting off a cricket that had landed on her face. The next morning, we left to get a bus to the local statues. But in luck again we ended up getting a lift on the back of a hostel workers bike whilst he set up some horses to meet us at the entrance. Where we galloped around the park with a tour guide explaining the history to us. All for the same price as the entry fee!
So another free ride to a local vegetarian restaurant Tomate and we enjoyed an amazing lunch, where we overfilled ourselves with unidentifiable great tasting veggies.
So now two very achey completely stuffed gringos walked back to the hostel where apparently our luck had ran out and we walked the whole way back arriving out of breath and sweaty. That evening we arranged a yoga class down the road where again we conveniently got a free ride. It was the kind of yoga my mums been trying to get me to go for years, all breathing and meditation. We had to avoid eye contact the whole time as a wave of the giggles threatened. This was especially difficult in the eye yoga! During one of the breathing exercises she asked if we had felt anything, I’m pretty sure a blocked nose was not the answer she was looking for (but the one I gave nonetheless). We left the yoga class confused at what had just happened and completely starved. We dined at Homosapians, another veggie place that served up some very quick tasty food.
Trying to get a taxi home in the downpour was a very serious task as we hovered in shop doorways trying desperately to flag down any vehicle in sight. The only one that stopped was an already full taxi. Despite this we loaded in with the complacent family, making 8 of us in there. We did manage to negotiate a discount based on the fact we didn’t even have one seat between us. We got back to the hostel soaked through and in a fit of giggles. And who do we see sat on the sofa… only our Aussie mate, I am now starting to believe he is a stalker. So a quick catch up and we all clamber in to bed trying to get some sleep but finding ourselves far too funny to stop firing comments across the room.
A boat and two busses later and we arrive in Popayan armed with some seriously toxic bed bug spray. We splashed out on a private room, locked ourselves in the bathroom with all our stuff and gassed ourselves out. Going a bit OTT with the bug spray looking and feeling like mad women when we finally tumble out with red eyes and serious headaches, hoping we had finally got on top of this infestation. Waking up with no new bites felt like winning an all out war! And although 100s of bites still remained scattered on my body I knew their days were numbered! We took our clothes to the laundrette changed rooms and strutted off to Silvia. A town so high in the mountains that Daisy shivered in her inappropriate attire. We bought some fruits for breakfast and scaled the nearest peak for our tradition of a viewpoint.
Everywhere In Colombia seems really easy to get too but is like a series of hunger games on the return journey. As everybody fights for a spot on the designated method of travel, on this occasion a bus. But feeling unbeatable after our victory with the bed bugs we decided against the scramble and strolled off in the general direction of Popayan. We successfully thumbed down a lift to the next town with a local and jumped on a conveniently waiting bus. Where we began attacking our bags of fruit, devouring tomorrow’s breakfast! Offering it to the locals and dropping it all over the place.
That night we ate at a place called Pita and as you’ve guessed it sold pittas.. with a variety of toppings. After a game of backgammon where me and Daisy realised we can’t play anything other than cards without bickering and Daisy wanting to quit because she’s loosing! So we left. I was definitely still hungry as I don’t believe hummus qualifies as a side so we shared some cake at the hostel whilst laughing at how pathetically competitive we are. (And for the record I won backgammon but maybe don’t tell Daisy I said that).
The next morning we grouped up with some people from the hostel and headed to the hot springs. Swerving the usual tour and catching a bus. The hot springs stank worse than my exes curry farts and at first I was hesitant to go in and cursed the children splashing in my general vicinity. But half an hour in and now immune to the smell we began rubbing smelly clay all over ourselves (doing as the locals do).
After a dirt cheep meal we went back to the hostel where we no joke tried a slice of every home made cake, rating them in order. My favourite being the chocolate, orange and zucchini followed closely by Daisy’s favourite Banana and cardamon and lastly the still amazing coffee and chocolate. Yum! That night we all went for Tapas at Restaurant Carmina. Where we drank wine, ate delicious food and drifted between intellectual debates and chatting shit. Until full and giddy we wondered home missing our turning for the second time since we’ve been here. The next morning we checked out only to later realise we had been undercharged. Alright for some!