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Ecuador / Peru

Have now just arrived in Piura, Peru, about 2 hours drive from the northern border of Ecuador and man its hot! Having just spent 10 days in ecuador, with the moutain mist, rain and drizzle and arrive in Peru to such a sweltering, intense heat. It´s overwhelming; have only been up about 2 hours and need a nap or will possibly faint soon.

Ecuador was an amazing place and easily the best time í've spent since departing british shores. It has so much to offer; the hustle and bustle of quito with all its grandiose acrhitecture, moutain landscapes and cheap cuisine to smaller towns like Banos and Cuenca with the quite streets, open cafes, bars, thermal baths and tiny and huge waterfalls in unison all the way down the cacuna pass that you can follow on moutain bike. A truly beautiful country.

Went a little crazy in banos as well. Have been white water rafting down the pataxa river (grade 4 rapids), which was awesome, marta didn´t fall in which was a little disappointing, but the views and torrent waves were fulfilling enough. Whilst cycling down the side of the gorge I also got cajooled into bridge jumping, well had to act macho around marta, anyway it cost 7 quid and you dived head first 10-15 metres into a rocky, flowing river before swinging under another bridge. Definately a far mory scarier experience than skydiving. When you´re free falling you at least have 10-15 seconds to adjust your body and mind at 10,000 feet before a chute opens, actually having time to enjoy the andrenaline rush. Here you just hurtle towards the ground before the harness buckles yr groin and swings you under. The worst thing was the two ecudorians mumbling aload of spanish in yr ear hole as yr trying to build up courage to jump whilst looking down at yr certain death. Just as I was building momentum they then grab me and yank me off the ledge of the bridge and start jittering to themsleves and adjusting the harness; really thought something was wrong and had to look up at the sky and just lunge on the next attempt. A very scary experience, think my dare devil days are coming to an end, though a grade 5 rapid could be tempting in Argentina.

Volcano wise we hired a guide to walk us up to the glaciers around Cotapaxi which was pretty cool. Roughly, a car drives you up to around 4000m and then you trek up to about 4900m, which was roughly 1.5/2 hour walk. It was an amazing sight, like walking on the moon; volcanic rock, red solidified magma, dust, mist every where, it was a struggle to actually see anything as we tredged slowly up the mountain. Once we hit the glaciers the sky cleared as the summit came into view, at roughly 5900m cotapaxi is the worlds largest active volcano and is a spectacular and rather impressive view. The guide explained that since beginning work as a guide seven years previously the glaciers have reduced in size by 50m, through climate change, humidity levels, whatever, the plain fact that these will soon be no more. Feel that at some point a summit attempt has to be made; whether Cotapaxi or another mountain it truly is a gratifying experience that gives you sense of purpose.

jeeezz..um still have loads to write about; the food is a little scary. Have just surffered my first bout of diarrher, pretty sure I caught it from eating some strange pieces of meat floating in my soup. think it was suppose to be stock, but me being me just gobbled it up. Man, soups are scary, chickens feet, mollascs of some kind, weird meat you thinks chicken until you bite into it. Also they offer popcorn as an appetiser and then throw it in their soups! crazy people. But what the hell..when in Rome...and for a soup, rice, chicken and freshly squeezed juice, 1 dollar, how can u complain even when yr staring at the toilet walls for 2 days.

Bananas as well...300 different types of banana...they sell 18kilo bunches of bananas for 3-4 dollars, then muggins here pays 2 quid for four, nice. Small, big, pink, green - varieties of fruit I could never imagine and will never remember the name of- apparently the banana fields south, near Guayaguil are suppose to be amazing, a never ending haze of yellow. maybe catch it next time. Though the vegetation fields are everywhere, lush green plants and fields surrounding the Andes, and the taste of fruits and veg are nothing compared to yr local tescos. A great place, though its sad to see the extremely young and old on the streetsor in the fields still trying to churn out a living shoe shining, pawning anything to grab a quick buck for the family. Hopefully the strength of the american dollar will help pull the country out of this lull and their trade boost the economy, who knows.

have to go. 9 hour coach drive yesterday from loja to piura and now a nice 16 hour trip to Lima. Should be fun. The coaches in Ecuador were horrendous, they stank, were crowded and roads round the Andes are like goat trails. Not very pleasent. Though a 9 hour trip costs 4 quid. Dam it. Bye.

Posted by Marta-Alex 11:05 Archived in Ecuador

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