Middle earth

From Mancora we caught a bus across the border to Guayaquil in Ecuador. This was an interesting border crossing purely because Joey was ill. I knew he was really ill when the bus made a stop and I suggested he could take a cigarette break and he turned me down. Joey NEVER turns down a cigarette break! We managed to get off the bus pretty quickly and got our exit stamps quickly. We then had a short wait to get our entry stamp. I disappeared for a quick loo break and when I returned Joey looked in a pain, almost bent double whilst being interviewed by someone with a clipboard! This did not look good, I went to intervene and he was being interviewed by some tourist board employee. We disposed of her as quick as we could and got our entry stamps. We had to hang around for the rest of bus and poor Joey was pretty much slumped over looking like he might pass out. I saw a small shop at the border so I did what every amazing girlfriend does – I made an excuse and nipped there for a mint magnum! I love anything mint flavoured: mint chocolate, mint cocktails, mint ice cream, but mint magnum is my all time favourite and I hadn’t had any since we’d left the UK almost three months earlier so don’t judge me! We made it back onto the bus and Joey caught up on some much needed rest. Guayaquil was a bit of a non event for us as we were both ill and had a disaster with the place we were staying, but they have a park full of iguanas, just roaming about doing their thing.

Iguanas roaming free in Guayaquil

After Guayaquil we headed to Puerto Lopez for some beach time. This was a short (by South American standards) four hour bus ride away. We were really looking to chilling, only upon arrival at our hostel Joey realised he didn’t have his passport. I’d love to blame this passport incident on Joey, but nope this one was all my doing. I’d left it in the last apartment we were staying. We quickly emailed the last place to see if they had it… the WiFi wasn’t great so it felt like we waited an age for a reply. To compound our misery and stress, Ecuador doesn’t sell alcohol on a Sunday so we couldn’t drink our way through this one. Luckily, all is well that ends well and they did have the passport. We arranged to go back to Guayaquil after our stay in Puerto Lopez. As we said, luckily it was ‘only’ a 4 hour bus ride away. After another impromptu night in Guayaquil we headed to Banos.

We always sigh a nostalgic sigh whenever we talk about Banos. It’s a beautiful town, full of adorable doggies and they had a cool Christmas light display in the centre. Christmas felt so out of context here as it was warm and being English we are used to it being wet and cold. We hiked around their volcano one day and then hired some bikes and cycled the famous route past several waterfalls. I am very accident prone and until this point the worst thing that I had done was fallen over into a cactus. I was merrily cycling along when I hit a rock and flew over the handlebars hitting my knee. At this point I was more shaken than anything and didn’t take too much notice of the pain in my knee, I did hobble for a bit but hoped I would walk it off. I spent the next two weeks hobbling and hoping I would walk it off…

One of the many waterfalls along the route

We cut short our ride and waited for a van to pick us up to take us back to the centre. I met a really friendly dog who I had a great cuddle with which helped to cheer me up. After Banos we headed to Quito. Quito wasn’t our favourite capital, thanks to the hostel of a thousand leaks, but it did have a fascinating church made of gold. Unfortunately they don’t let you take any photos of it so you’ll just have to take our word for it. Instead here’s a photo of the equator. There is a whole park here with exhibitions about the equator. Except that this line is not actually the equator, that lies 250 yards away, somewhere unmarked outside the park. If you take your passport you can get a stamp saying that you have visited the (non) equator.

Joey not actually at the equator

We had enjoyed our time in Ecuador but we were looking forward to leaving our leaky hostel and with some minor trepidation we headed to Colombia.

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