SO my post-trip plans have changed quite substantially. Initially I intended to fly to Seattle from Quito and spend 3 week road tripping willy nilly until flying home to Namibia. Then I decided to fly from Quito back to Buenos Aires (BA) as spending 3 weeks in the USA wouldn’t really accomplish much and I would rather save the USA to do a complete trip later on, plus BA has been my favourite city so far and having picked up a decent level of Spanish, I would like to further that with a proper Spanish course. Now, due to hassles booking the flight from Quito, I decided to road trip with Jono our truck driver back down to Lima, Peru as he has to transfer Doris (our truck) there. Flights from Lima to BA are cheaper and direct unlike the Quito flights which would have me go via Panama of all places. So I write this post while sitting up front in the truck with Jono listening to ‘tranquilo’ music and having random conversations.
Our plan was to head from Quito to Machala which is a stones throw away from the Equador – Peru border. We are traveling in convoy Dragoman as they too have a truck which needs transfer to Lima. The day started off with a little bit of a headache. Quito is a large city and getting out isnt the easiest of tasks. We hailed a taxi to lead us out of the city and all was going well until he headed under a 3.5 meter high bridge. Doris is a 3.7 meter high beast… we had to reverse up the highway with Dragoman (trucks name is Cameron) during peak morning traffic. I, along with Alvaro our (now ex) tour leader was tasked with informing the traffic behind us to move over into the adjacent lane so that we could get out of that mess. Took a little while but we were successful without incident. We then proceeded to get lost down a different road but found another taxi who showed us the way. Finally on the road and nothing a head but smooth sailing… yeah right!
20 minutes down the Panamerican Highway, Cameron stopped on the side and displayed hazard lights. Turns out with the new tires and what not put on it recently, the ‘slacks’ were not correctly adjusted and this was causing Cameron to drive sluggishly and over-heat. Jono quickly sorted out the problem at the nearest gas station and we were back on our way. From here on until lunch around 2:30pm, all went well. Cameron was behaving and we were making progress. We stopped for lunch in Aluasi. Rice, potato, chicken and salad for a pricey 2.50 dollars (Equador uses American dollars as their currency). After a quick refill of the gas tanks, we consulted the map and Dragoman transit instructions dictation which route to take back to Lima.
The instructions told us to take a secondary road via the town of Huigra. What follows is a direct quote from the instruction sheet. “In the town of Aluasi, TR towards Guayaquil. At the bottom of the road TL for Machala, etc, which should get you to the Tumbes border. This road should be a lot quicker than going via Cuenca as it avoids that shit winding road through the mountains.”. Ummm.. LOL! This road weaves through the mountains and is exactly as straight as George Michael. I took a nap after lunch and woke up from the cold. Headed back to the cab to Jono to find out where we were. We were smack dab in the middle of a mountainous jungle surrounded by cloud. Visibility wasn’t too bad at this stage. After a couple hundred bends, we came to what used to be a bridge which had collapsed from all the rain. A couple bulldozers where at work on a road around the bridge which was covered by a river. Got through that ok though. Then the clouds came in thick and fast. At one point, we had no more than 7 meters visibility. The right-hand side of the road (also the side we are riding on) sits on the edge of a sheer drop into the valley below and large sections of the road had collapsed and fell into the valley. Not dangerous at all. It was, however, one the coolest sections of road we have been on and reminded me very much of the Bolivian Death Road. Anyway, it is now dark and we are still miles from our planned destination. We will probably pull off on the side of the road, see what we have left in the food lockers and then camp out in the truck till morning. An exciting first day!
We stopped off at a little town called El Truinfo (‘The Triumph’) last night and Jono and Drago got rooms in a hotel while Alvaro and I slept in Doris. Thanks to all the leftover roll mats, a decent bed could be made. Thankfully we were back on the Panamerican Highway so its been smooth sailing so far. Drivers are a little crazy this end with overtaking on blind corners and stopping without warning. Also, I have never seen as many dead dogs on the road as I have during this short trip (and it’s not even lunch time yet!). As I write this, we are about 10km outside Machala and if all goes according to plan, should cross the border and get to Mancora / Puenta Sol by about 3pm.
So we arrived a little later than expected in Mancora as the customs officials on the Equadorian border took ages to clear the truck. We then stopped for a leisurely lunch in an unknown town before continuing on for the last hour to Mancora. We are actually staying at a beach resort an Punta Sal which is about 20 – 30 minutes outside Mancora. A fantastic place with great staff. Currently we are all sat around a table speaking Spanglish and having a couple drinks. So being a little unsocial now but it is ok. There is apparently Wi-Fi here but can’t seem to connect which is a let down as I was looking forward to getting online and catching up. Dropped Alvaro off in Mancora as he booked 3 days in a hotel there as the start to his holiday. Jono decided to spend another day at this wonderful resort as he too is on holiday and in the past, when he had to transfer the truck to another city, he has just gunned it the whole way. This time he has company and realized that he was actually on holiday and has to get the truck to Lima before the 17th because that is when is flight is booked. Even with a day relaxing on the beach, we should get there by the 15th so all is good. A good second day :)
Oh, and YAY!! to getting Inca Cola again!
What a relaxing and ‘tranquilo’ day. Lay on the beach for a while. Watched a movie (Mission Impossible 4) on my bed and looking out over the ocean. Hung out in the restaurant and chatted with some of the locals who basically live here. I decided yesterday to splurge a little bit and get a bungalow / chalet to myself. I have been sharing with minimum 2 people and max 10 for the last 4 months so figured I could spoil myself with my own room. They are quite basic but have all you need. Bed, toilet and shower. Privacy has been missed. The double glass doors open up onto a ocean view. We are approximately 15 – 20 meters from the sea and hearing the crashing waves really sooths the soul. Haven’t been for a swim yet as I am a bit of a wimp and don’t want to get all cold and wet. Miss Mombasa for beach swimming.
Sat on the beach around 6:30pm watching the sun set into the ocean. Beautiful. Followed that with some dinner (chicken nuggets and chips) then headed to my bungalow to pack my bags, watch a movie and get an early night. Up at 6am tomorrow for the 12 hour drive day.
Today we head out to Huanchaco. The time spent on the beach has been great and it feels like a real holiday. All-in-all, the day on the road was rather uneventful. Watched Pulp Fiction and Alpha Dogs as well as an episode of Ross Kemp’s ‘Extreme World’ series. Wish we had Snatch to watch as it is one of those movies that is jam packed with clever and hilarious lines which I almost know off by heart now. Anyway, not much else to say about the day. Got a little lost in Trujillo which is about 20 minutes away from Huanchaco and it was up to me to get a taxi to lead us out of town and back on the right track. After the little splurge the last two days, decided to camp out in the truck and save on the funds. Tomorrow it is off to Lima, our final destination.
On the road now to Lima. Slept like a log in the truck. There are about 7 or so roll mats and such that have been left behind so I was able to make a bed to rival most hotels. Slept in a little and got up at 9. Uneventful drive so far again. Long straight roads through the desert of Peru. Even though I am writing this post now at 2:30pm and we still have a few hours till we get to Lima, I will not be updating this later. It is Friday and it has already been discussed with Jono that when we get to Lima, we will celebrate the end of this transfer and end of tour with a night out on the town. Will be staying in the same hotel as last time because it will be easier to sort out when we get there instead of searching for a new place. Will be dark and I know that part of town. Will look for a cheap hostel the next day as well as organise my flight to Buenos Aires. Hope I can get a cheap on in the next few days as time is ticking and want to get started on that Spanish course.
Anyways, that it from me for now. There will probably be a decline in blog posts from here on out with the odd one should I do something worth noting in Argentina. Been a great time and hope the posts I have published about all the places in the last four months have been interesting to read and helpful for fellow travelers. Adios amigos.