Ok, we play pretty fast and loose with the definition of “week.” Never mind. We have blasted our way through another country so it’s time to write some inane crap about it so you can laugh at us. Our Lego chaps took this time to find Jesus, hence the giant and rather beautiful church behind them.
Our story picks up where we left off, in Cusco, Peru. Specifically at the airport, where we managed to miss our flight. Did you know that flights close an hour before departure in Peru, even domestic ones? No, me neither. Anyway, some begging and gentle bribery later (we gave him sweets), the nice chap from Star Peru popped us on another flight and we were on our way to Lima. From there we headed to Mancora, which was honestly kind of a disappointment. We were looking forward to getting our beach and party on, but the town was pretty dead and unfortunately still deep in recovery mode from the recent floods. Consequently, the town was crawling with bugs and swarming with mosquitoes, which is never pleasant. Still, we made the best of it before leaving in the middle of the night to head to Cuenca, across the Ecuadorian border. Incidentally, at this border – one of the most prolific drug smuggling routes in the world – the police searched people’s bags. This is understandable of course. It took bloody ages, and all the more so because they DIDN’T HAVE A BLOODY DOG. Honestly, I swear they don’t actually give a shit about the drugs, they just have to look like they’re doing something. (In fact, that is definitely the case).
Anyway, Cuenca. Cuenca was back up at altitude and very pretty. We’d checked the forecast in advance and were prepared for a solid few day of rain, but shockingly (for us at least) we actually had a couple of lovely sunny, cool days, wandering the streets and visiting the nearby national park…which looked strangely a lot like the Peak District. This experience was marred somewhat by one big error in judgement on our parts – we went for a hair cut. In Mark’s case, it went pretty well, albeit rapidly (seriously, like 5 minutes), so I made the unwise decision of saving a few pennies ($5 as opposed to the god-knows-how-much I would have shelled out in the Bahamas in a few weeks). THIS WAS A BAD IDEA. I asked, repeatedly, for just a couple of cm off. I’ve been growing my hair for donkey’s years and only needed a little off to freshen it up. Unfortunately, the mean bad lady decided she knew best. In under ten minutes of dry cutting, I lost about 4 inches of hair. If you’re a boy reading this, you may shrug. If you are a girl, FEEL MY PAIN.
Anyway, we moved on (geographically speaking – I’m still crying inside) to Montanita a few days later, with more than a little bitterness and some anxiety about the bug situation which lay ahead. Luckily, we had no need to worry. Despite being insanely close to the equator, Montanita was a much cleaner, less buggy, altogether way more fun version of Mancora. Now we are not ones for “party towns” as a whole. Although we both like a night out (well, I do) and a beer or two (well, Mark does) our travel style is less “lash lash lash” and more “bit of culture, then Netflix and bed”. It’s not the drunken revelry as such, or even the accompanying overpriced food/beverages/clothing. It’s more this feeling that we Westerns have taken over a town and basically replicated our home countries, complete with chips, sex and shitty 90’s dance…only with less laws and less clothing (I’m looking at you Koh Phi Phi). Now, no one is going to call Montanita the cultural capital of anywhere – it is a partying surf town after all – but thanks to an avoidance of tack and the inclusion of a bunch of Ecuadorian tourists, it managed to get the balance just right. We had a cracking time, met a delightful Bostonian-cum-Texan called Chris, and had our usual night out followed by Mark drunkenly wandering off. The latter bit was less fun.*
We spent our last day in Montana visiting Isla de la Plata, which are supposed to be like a mini-Galapagos, or a Galapagos for poor people. We saw sea turtles, and exotic birds aplenty, included the hilarious-looking and equally hilariously named blue-footed booby. We also took this opportunity to get sunburnt to shit.
Our final stop in our brief Ecuadorian adventure was 24 hours in Quito, which was basically a break in our journey on to Colombia, but a very pleasant one. Now, here comes the shameful admission: as you guys know, I plan ahead like the OCD madwoman I am, and generally this has worked out pretty damn well. Other than the odd “I wish we had another day here” or “I wish we had known about that place/could change our plans”, up until Cusco we didn’t really regret travelling this way at all. Given our vague disappointment with Mancora (and the forced flight we needed to get there in time) and the glowing reviews people had given Colombia, we were already somewhat regretting not allocating a bit more time there. Add in that we had booked a very expensive and entirely unnecessary flight from Quito-Bogota months back (we trusted the British Government website when it said the border was insanely dangerous – apparently it really isn’t anymore) and we were feeling REGRETFUL. We even tried to get a refund on the flight – intending to sacrifice a solid 24 hours on a much cheaper bus journey – but could only get about 75% of it back.
You can imagine the irony then, when we turned up at the airport, for our unnecessary, overpriced and regretful flight, only to find out IT NO LONGER EXISTED.
That’s right folks. Our airline hadn’t just cancelled the flight, they had terminated their entire contract with Quito Airport. Sadly for us, we had booked through a third party, Kiwi.com, who allegedly knew nothing of the sort, and thus didn’t let us know. In fact, they had confirmed the flight a mere 72 hours before. Very generously, they booked us on a flight 15 hours later (ha) and gave us a few dollars for a room and some grub. No refund for our accommodation in Bogota, no compensation for the 5 hours we spent chatting on the phone to them, the day we had lost in Bogota or the fact that had we known a few days earlier we would have got the damn bus and saved a fortune! Forgive my French, but what a bunch of fucking cunts.
Anyhoo, we finally arrived in Bogota yesterday. The sad part is, although the Quito hotel we were forced to stay in was absolutely beautiful, the apartment we had booked in Bogota rivalled it entirely. Seriously, look at that view.
Lastly, our next week in South America is our last. One week today and we’re leavin’ on a jet plane and heading North, via the Caribbean. Be rude not to, wouldn’t it?
*He’s sorry. Very sorry.