“Having lived through enough salsa to last a lifetime in Colombia, we hopped on a night bus from Cali in the south of the country with the hope of having a hassle free journey to the border. Given our luck on Colombian buses we were more than surprised when our buses arrived on time at the border town of Ipiales. Not ones to waste time we had the local café whip up the nearest thing to an Irish brekkie and we were set for the crossing, which also went swimmingly. Apart from a big bunch of dodgey looking lads at the bridge crossing who wanted to sell us dollars it was perfect! Once through customs, we headed to the nearest bus station and got on the first bus to Quito, which cost as much as Dublin Bus, but the journey lasts 6 hours. Cheap as chips! Well basic chips with salt and vinegar. Garlic chips can add up.
Hoping off the bus in Quito, we soon realised we got off at the wrong stop and were about 10 miles from the hostel. So we hopped on the local Dublin Bus and headed in what seemed like the right direction. Upon admitting we were very lost we swallowed our pride and grabbed a taxi which trekked across the city to leave us at the hostel. Checking in we were gutted to find out that the reception of the 6 story hostel was on the top floor. Bear in mind that Quito is the second highest city in the world; you can only imagine how we were when we got to the top…absolutely fecked! At one stage we thought we would set up camp on the third floor and make for the summit the following day. However, the view from the top was worth losing 1kg in weight.
We arrived in Montañita early on Sunday morning and immediately set about finding a hostel to kip for a few nights. As it was about 7am, there were still some hobos out finishing their Saturday night out on the beach. High as kites! Once we found a hostel to stay at we headed straight to the beach where the heavens decided to open and dampen any hope of topping up the tan. We stayed for about 2 hours on the beach and in that time saw about 6 people saved from the sea by the lifeguards. The poor lads were wrecked after the first 2 rescues! It was like a free episode of Baywatch, except without good looking people.
Arising early we hopped on the bus and headed to Puerto Lopez. Once there we got on a boat and went in pursuit of some whales. Bit different from the Coppers dance floor. After a while we finally spotted Willy and spent the rest of the day very smug in the knowledge of having completed probably our most touristic trip of our whole journey!
We arrived in Baños after another roller coaster of a bus and an interesting conversation with some American girls, which was topped off with, “Have you guys ever heard of Las Vegas, Nevada?”... “Eh yeah love, just the once”. Arriving at 5am, we made the cheeky choice of going the hostel early and asking to leave our stuff. We were in luck when they let us kip in the common room, which basically was a free night!
Early the next day we headed white water rafting about an hour outside Baños. The lashing rain overnight helped created level 4 rapids, which threw us in at the deep end literally. After 2 hours of rafting or so, we headed to grab some dodgey Ecuadorian lunch soaked to the skin and on the verge of pneumonia. As we got back to the hostel we all headed to the shower (not together) in the eager hope of a hot shower only to be dealt the killer blow of freezing water. I guess they have the same problem with the immersion here!
A few days behind schedule, we decided to make for Peru the following day and headed for the early morning bus to Guayachil with the aim of grabbing the bus directly to Mancora, Peru. Fingers crossed for the Boys in Green! As always a big thanks to all the awesome people we met in Ecuador. Without a doubt it is a hidden gem in South America and has so much to offer from beaches to extreme sports to food poisoning!
See you soon,