A Travellerspoint blog

November 2012

day 79

ecuador coast

We spent a few days in Atacames doing nothing but hanging out by the beach, eating ceviche, and wandering along the beach/bars at night. It was a lot of fun, really relaxing. Our next stop was Canoa, we had to take 3 different buses to get there which in total was about 7 hours I think.

Canoa was a much sleepier version of Atacames. There wasnt loud music blasting all day, and there werent bars lined along the beach, but there was ceviche and a huge beach to spend the day at. We spent the first night in a hostel, made breakfast in the morning, then checked out and into a campsite around the corner. Camping has been a lot of fun the only thing is that theres never a place for us to just be. So we end up occupying random places, usually restaurants. We spent the day on the beach but it was kind of cold (we didnt really see sun all along the coast, it was nice in Atacames, just not sunny. Canoa was nice but got cold later in the day), so we moved to a restaurant and spent the evening reading, getting drinks and food, and just hanging out there til we wanted to go to sleep. We decided to move on to our next stop the following day because it was the middle of the week and there literally wasnt anything happening in Canoa. It was a nice town though, would have liked to spend more time there in the sun /when it was livelier.

Our plan was to spend a night camping on a beach near in Machalila, but when the bus dropped us off there we found out it was closed. So we hopped on another bus towards Montanita (another beach town further south), we had to connect to another bus which ended up being the same bus we were originally on... everyone recognized us and it was kind of embarassing because Im sure they were all wondering why we got off when we did. Anyways, finally made it to Montanita after another 3 buses totalling 8 hours.

We spent a week in Montanita. Loved everything about it except for mosquitos that ate us alive. We spent one night in a hostel because they told us there was hot water (which there wasnt). Moved the next day to a campsite which was the coolest campsite weve stayed at. There were a lot of people there, 2 hammocks, clean bathrooms, basically a luxury campsite.

Montanita is an awesome little town. Its pretty much a beach, one main street, and a couple streets perpendicular to it. Lots of artisanas, lots of tourists, but everyone was awesome, super friendly. Even just after a couple days of being there we would walk down the street and run into new friends. We actually ran into two Spanish dudes we met in Atacames so we ended up making Thanksgiving dinner with them at their hostal. Their hostel was super chill and the people were good fun so Star and Maddy moved there from the campsite and I followed suit after another night of camping. All in all Montanita was basically the same things we had been doing all along the coast just in a different place... lots of ceviche (had it everyday, at first we were going to this one place that was superrr cheap, ceviche for 4 dollars and daily special meals for only a dollar fifty. Then michelle went to the bathroom and saw things a customer doesnt want to see in a kitchen so we stopped going there...), beach days (although not very sunny, but the water was soo nice), and just lots of chilling in general. We were going to go snorkeling one day but we woke up too late, and we were supposed to go horseback riding but the guy stood us up twice, and the third time we stood him up. We made chocolate chip cookies to sell one day, spent 14 dollars on the ingredients, made a round of 17 cookies then went out to sell them and the girl who worked at the hostal told us we werent allowed to use the kitchen to make things to sell. But she let us sell the ones we had already made so we made a grand profit of 1 dollar each. But then we got to eat the rest of the cookies we made for free so cant really complain.

Trying to think of other things to report.... nothing too exciting has happened though. Weve basically just been enjoying our last days together. We left Montanita yesterday and are in Cuenca now, a city more inland. Michelle ran into her friend Drew in Montanita so he came with us here. Were parting ways on Friday though, Drew and I are headed to Mancora and Mich Maddy and Estrella are headed to Banos and then Quito before flying home :( looking forward to a new experience but definitely gonna miss my travel buddies.

Today we actually woke up early (730) and made it to the bus station to catch a 9am bus to Ingapirca, the biggest ruins in Ecuador. Originally inhabited by Canaris but taken over by the Incas.. we got a guide for free and it was really interesting. The ruins were beautiful. Its amazing what people hundreds of years ago created. It was a two hour bus ride there and back, and on the way back there was a hugeee thunderstorm, like visible rods of lightening, crazy loud thunder, and lots of hail. It was crazy but by the time we were back in Cuenca it had subsided so we managed to get some much needed food without getting drenched. The rest of the day weve just spent hanging out. We went in search of a film festival but couldnt find it so ended up just going to a restaurant then a hookah bar. And now Im here.

Its really hard to translate everything Im seeing, experiencing, and learning through a blog. The people Ive met and the kindness and friendliness theyve shown is indescribable. The way people live here is so different than at home, life isnt about making as much money as possible or being the best, its about meeting people, learning new things, doing what satisfies you and ultimately just living life. Life is so much simpler and easier to enjoy. Im only halfway through my travels but even now just thinking about home is crazy. When I went to South Africa I had more culture shock coming back home than going there, and I know its going to be the exact same but even more so when I come home in 3 months. Its gonna be weird. But I am stoked to go to my favorite food places, we talk about the food we want from home a lotttt.

Posted by alexascamp 19:12 Archived in Ecuador Comments (3)

day 68

lima, mancora, ecuador

The bus ride to lima suckeddddd. It was about 21 hours total. We picked the front 4 seats on the bus because those tend to be the best ones.... of course the one time we actually get them they turn out to be literally the worst seats. Reclining the seats made the bottom of the seat slanted so it was really uncomfortable, and the whole drive was windy because it was through the Andes. Didnt matter to the bus driver though apparently because he was whizzing around the curves. But we finally made it.

We only spent one night in Lima. Maddys friend Amanda is studying there so she and her roomie showed us around. Star and I were still recovering from the busride basically the whole time we were in Lima. The others went out in Barranco, we slept for like 12 hours. They ate delicious ceviche, we ate kinda gross potatoes and chicken. They went to a water fountain garden, we watched TV.

Next stop was Trujillo, a beach city like 8 hours north of Lima. We got there early morning and took a taxi to Huanchaco which was a sleepy little beach town about 10 minutes away. Great place, really relaxed, literally all there is to do is go to the beach. Our hostel was right across the street from the beach so we dropped our stuff there and spent the rest of the day at the beach. And taking pictures with people who were fascinated by us. Met some pretty cool people, including a couple from Cape Town who had some great travel stories. We only spent one night at the hostel, but it was pretty much our base the whole time we were there. Watched the election there with the receptionist who was wasted and freaking out about Obama losing. Then left our stuff there and went to camp on the beach. Right after we set up our tent a po came by and told us we couldnt camp there and we had to go to theend of the beach, so we literally just pickd up the tent and walked ten minutes with it to where we could camp. Woke up and got surf boards from the hostel, but it wasnt very successful. The waves were way too powerful.

We went from Trujillo to Mancora (took a while to find a bus though, almost had to spend the night in Trujillo), which was AMAZING. It was actual paradise. Beautiful weather, incredible hostel literally on the beach. So much fun it was hard to leave. Small town otherwise, basically one main street. Really chill vibes. We were there for 3 nights but we didnt do too much besides sit by the pool during the day and go out at night. Literally every day we said we were going to do something, go see the turtles, go surfing, go to the lighthouse to watch sunset, but none of those things ever happened. We were toooo relaxed. The hostel we stayed at was really nice, it was only 12 dollars a night but would have been at least 50 or 60 in the states. The people there were cool too so overall it was just a really fun time. Best story was Maddy and a homie getting encountering police on the beach that made them pay 100 soles (like 40 bucks) only to find out after that they werent real police. Michelle made friends with basically all the artisanas there. Lots of cheap beer and delicious cheap food. My nose ring fell out. Star and I dominated at beer pong. That pretty much sums it up our time there.

From Mancora we took a 16 or so hour bus to Quito. We stayed with Mich and Stars family there for a couple nights. Awesome people, great family. So generous and kind, they treated us too well. Made us so much good food... arroz con leche, plantan chips, soup, ceviche, empanadas. We stayed with their tia, who lived below their prima and her family. Every night their tio Hyme would come over to hang out and be on his blackberry. We went out one night with two other primos which was a lot of fun, besides the creeper who would not stop bothering me. Quito is like a big version of Cusco, definitely has more ofa big city feel. So much traffic. It was beautiful though. The weather was so unpredictable. there was sun, clouds, rain, thunder and lightening, humidity, the works. We spent the first day just chilling at the house. Next day we went with their tio washington and tia judy to the thermal baths. Or at least thats where we were headed, but the road was closed so we went to el mitad del mundo instead (3rd unsuccessful attempt to go to thermal baths, clearly we are not destined to go). The equator was cool, but it wasnt the actual equator, which was interesting. The real one is apparently a lot less touristy. The third day we were there we explored Quito, went to the Presidents Palace, wandered some of the craft markets and went to la ronda to drink candeleza, a warm drink which was interesting. We had hot wine later that night which was delicious.

Now we are making our way down the coast. We are in Atacames now, got here last night. Checked into a hostel acros the street from the beach. There are bars/cabanas all along the beach. Constant loud music, huge beach, lots of people. The water is soooo nice, we went in last night and it was legitimately warm. It was a fun but long night, we didnt wake up til 2 today. Went straight to the beach to get ceviche which was so delicious. And now Im here. Its so hot. Its not that sunny, just hot. Gotta get off the comp, been on for toooo long. I cant believe ive been here for 68 days. Time is flyinggggg

Posted by alexascamp 14:16 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

day 53

machu picchu

We looked around for Machu Picchu tours but decided to do it without one and go with Damien, Cokie, and Jorge instead. First leg of the trip was a bus from Cusco to Urubamba which took about an hour. After checking into a hostel everyone went out to wander around the town but I opted to stay in.. great decision because when I flipped through the channels to the telly in our room the giants game was playing!! Cant believe I was able to watch all the world series games.... It was kind of depressing watching them win by myself though, especially when they showed shots of SF celebrating. And I cant believe its over now...

Anyways, the next morning we caught a mini bus (similar to what we took in cape town, huge van that packed in as many people as possible) to Ollantaytamba, where it happened to be the anniversary of the city so there were a lot of people and festivities in the plaza. We were going to hike to the next point but it had rained so the trail wasnt open? So Damien found us a ride from a guy with a truck. It was about a 3 hour drive over the mountain to St Maria. It was amazinggg. I dont even know how to put it into words. We literally went over the mountain, above the clouds, and back down into a valley. It rained, we saw snow, we were in clouds, and we saw the sun above the clouds. The landscape was beautiful, so many mountains and the road winded around all of them.

We finally got to St Maria where we found another ride to St Maria. The drive was pretty similar, winding roads around jungle-y mountains except the roads werent paved and it was a little more sketch as we were literally driving alongsides cliffs for half the time. He drove us as far as the road took us, which was to the train tracks (a lot of people just take the train to Mach but its really expensive, like 50 dollars each way so we walked it instead). It was dark at this point, and we only had one flashlight for the seven of us but it didnt matter too much because we just had to follow the tracks. It started to rain halfway through but it was a nice kind of rain, not too hard or cold. There was thunder and lightening too.

It took 3 hours to get to Aguas Calientes. Right when we got there we stopped at the first little shop and took over to make dinner (sandwiches).

Checked into a hotel and passed out with the plan to get up at 4am with the intention of trying to sneak into Machu Picchu (damien said he had done it a couple months ago). Got kind of a late start and when we got to the entrance point there were two guards that had no intention of letting us pass without tickets. So we had to walk all the way back to town (about half an hour?) and get tickets. The boys didnt have to money to buy them so it was just us that went. So much for getting an early start and beating the crowds. Rather than walking up to Mach we took a bus.

Machu PIcchu was incredible, you see pictures but the beauty of it cant because conveyed through words or photos. I honestly dont know how to describe it. Only thing that was kind of a drag was how many people were there, but we walked up one of the trails that didnt have too many people so that was nice. We spent a few hours there wandering then started the walk back down. Right when we got back into town a thunderstorm started, which rained (pun semi intended) on our plans to do the walk back to St Theresa that afternoon. We checked out the train option but opted to stay another night at the hostel and do the walk in the morning. We had the whole rest of the day to kill so we just hung out in the plaza.

Had to wake up early again the next day, but unfortunately Star was feeling miserable. Must have eaten or dranken something bad. She ended up going back on the train while the rest of us walked. It was really cool to do the walk during the day when you could actually see your surroundings after only being able to hear them. It was so beautiful, on one side there was this fat river and on the other side were massive mountains. Amazing. It took us two hours to get to the end of the tracks where we snagged a ride to St Maria. We waited a few minutes there until we hopped in another mini bus headed for straight for Cusco. Good thing the driver was literaly the slowest driver in the world. He packed soo many people in his van it could hardly make it up the mountain and around turns. When we were going quote fast, huge tour buses would pass us, really quickly too. It was annoying, I didnt even have a head rest to rest my head on :(

Finallyyyy made it back to Cusco, probably two hours after we should have to find Star going on her 7th hour chilling in bed. She was feeling better which was good because it was halloween!!! We dressed up and hung out around the hostel for a while then went out to a few different bars.

We were going to leave yesterday for Lima but that didnt happen, but we bought tickets for today so we are leaving in a few hours. Definitely gonna miss Cusco, its one of the prettiest places weve been and the hostel weve been staying at is a lot of fun. Im excited to come back!!

Posted by alexascamp 07:12 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

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