To keep the back-packing karma balanced we moved from the Galapagos to a week of bus travel. With the exception of a day on a dry forest farm (belonging to our Galapagos guide & his wife) we spent the next 5 days in a zen-like trance to ignore the fact our legs were crammed into Latam size gaps while we shared air and bathrooms with 48 other travellers.
The dry forest farm was great - we met Fabians wife, Lucia as planned ('take a cab out of Quito to the fried chicken stand near a supermarket on the north bound highway. She'll be in a dark pick-up') and drove up into the mountains. Despite the environment the farm has been worked to now have sufficient irrigation for 70+ species of fruit & veg. And cows, horses, dogs & llamas. We grabbed our baskets and went for a tour, collecting whatever we wanted to eat/drink along the way. In tribute to childhood trips to 'pick your own' fruit farms we ate more than we carried in our baskets and a few hours later started to question the sense of that. Eating kilos of tree-tomatoes, avocados, passion fruit and oranges before a night bus with no toilet was not necessarily the best plan*.
Anyway, great day and very interesting to see how 2 biologists are making arid nothingness into lush farmland, despite the Ecuadorian governments best attempts at strangling them with red tape.
The rest of the week went like this:
13 hour night bus from Quito to the Peruvian border
1 hour bus from the border to the nearest transport hub- turns out to be a man with a mini-bus & 2 plastic chairs for us to wait on. Which we did. For hours.
4 hours through desert to the nearest town.
9 hours through the night from that town to a recommended beach area (Trujillo).
Arrived at 6am & got a local bus to Huanchaco, found a hostel & stayed there 24 hours.
People told us north Peru has good beaches, this being the best. but we were less than impressed. Great for surfing but otherwise dirty (not the fault of Peruvians necessarily but the wash from the Pacific Ocean is pretty grim on this bit of coast) with nothing else of interest around. The upside for us was a night in a real bed, food, and a change of clothes.
Next night we got the 9 hour bus to Lima (charmless, cloudy & grubby), kicked our heels for 7 hours then got on the 21 hour bus to Cusco. By this time I'd got quite happy with sleeping on buses (it helped me to sleep on the move as I still hadn't got over motion sickness from the boat) but Chris is too tall to get comfy- even on the luxury service we chose for the longest leg.
21 hours spanning very hot desert to the chilly Andes was beautiful even if the notoriously carefree driving style along mountain ridges was sometimes a bit unnerving. We woke up (eventually- no idea what day by this stage) to snow capped mountains, cloud forest and an altitude difference of c3000m .
Time to get off vehicles for a week, get acclimatised to thin air and get excited about meeting our friend Jan who'd flown out from the UK to walk the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu with us.
* stupid, stupid thing to do. Spanish lessons came into their own with hurried pharmacy visits at bus stations as that is one conversation we didn't want to have to resort to mime on.
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