Day Forty-Six

What an adventure the past few days have been! Probably the two craziest nights in Montañita were Thursday and Saturday, just like the locals had told us. That’s probably one of the coolest things about Montañita; everyone’s just there to chill and have a good time, and it’s so easy to talk to just about anyone. I didn’t end up going on any crazy adventure, like surfing or scuba diving, but honestly, being able to relax in the sun and swim in the ocean was enough. And I had some pretty good food while I was there too! Nothing can beat the ceviche I had the second day; just plain shrimp ceviche with rice, veggies, and patacones (my new favorite way to eat plátanos, sliced mashed in the slice form, then fried). Such a delicious lunch. And then on Saturday, the only day we were there with clear skies the whole day, I had a scrumptious coconut ice cream Popsicle thing on the beach and then bought a veggie sandwich from one of the beach stands and ate it as Jayda and I walked along the surf. It was such a gorgeous day, and although there was a nice ocean breeze, the sun was extremely powerful, and I could feel my skin start burning after the first hour. I reapplied a good three times on my problem spots like my chest and face, but by the end of that day I ended up with probably the worst burn I’ve ever had. My stomach, lower back, and upper thighs are completely burned. Still. I could feel it during the entire 27-hour bus ride that got us here to Lima. Every time I fidget with my money belt, my stomach burns. It sucks, but I’ve got some Aloe Vera left and I’m hoping it’ll turn into a tan in a few days. Crossing my fingers it’s gone before we start our trek on Friday…
Saturday night, we ended up staying up the whole night because we had to get up at 4:30, and we’d been staying out pretty late on most nights anyway. We’d packed the night before after dinner, so we just showered, changed, and clambered out with all of our bags to the bus station around 5:15 yesterday morning. The bus was actually pretty comfortable, and I slept most of the way to Guayaquil.
We got off at the main bus terminal which, even by 8:45 in the morning, was bustling with people. And since the only thing we knew about Guayaquil was its bad reputation for theft, we definitely had our guards up. We got Katrina a taxi to the airport, then Brooke, Laura, and I haggled with another driver to take us to the Ormeño bus office. It was super hot there, just like it’d been when we’d come through on our way to Montañita, but at least the Ormeño office, where we waited for a couple hours, was air-conditioned.
We wanted to get some snacks for the ride, so we asked the manager if there was a store nearby. In turn, he sent one of his employees with us to the store across the street, while Laura watched the bags. It was sort of comical actually; this nice, shy guayaquileño was pushing our shopping cart as we picked out some yogurt, fruit, cookies, and crackers. We were still getting the routine looks and once-overs by the locals, but Brooke and I never felt threatened. One day I’d for sure like to return to Guayaquil, but preferably with an Ecuadorean so I won’t be so paranoid about getting robbed. And it turns out that Laura had gotten robbed on the bus to Montañita; her iPod touch, camera, and sunglasses were gone when she checked at the station in Guayaquil. She had her bag between her feet on the bus, but we were sleeping and the guy behind us definitely bolted off the bus as we arrived. He must’ve pulled the bag from her and gone through her things. I feel so sorry for her; I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose this iPhone, my camera, or my iPod. It’d be absolutely devastating.
The bus left Guayaquil around 11:45, and then the rest of that story is pretty bland and unexciting. We were all exhausted, so we slept a lot. I didn’t get a great sleep though; my sunburn was bothering me and I just couldn’t get that comfortable, even though my chair reclined. We were also at the very front of the bus, so we scored some extra leg room. They played four or five movies, I think, but I only saw bits and pieces of each of them as I tried to sleep. For lunch we had these round orange takeout containers with rice, salad, beans, and chifles, and it was actually decent; dinner was fried rice. It sounds lame, but it was actually probably the best fries rice I’ve ever had. Which was a nice treat.
The only part of the trip I was nervous for, the border crossing, was a total joke! Or maybe we just got lucky…we literally pulled up on the side of the two lane highway in the middle of nowhere, around five that afternoon. We crossed the street with our backpacks, passports and travel documents ready and waited maybe ten minutes in line outside the border cross stations. The officers took our documents, scanned and stamped the passports, then sent us on our way. The least stressful border crossing I’ve ever done, and for some reason I always get anxious at borders even though I obviously have nothing to worry about. And it was the same thing on the Peru side. So basically the first “crossing” was on the Ecuador side, to leave the country, and the second “crossing”, maybe some twenty minutes further along the highway, was where we actually entered Peru. I’d been thinking how weird it was going to feel, leaving the awesome country I’d spent some six weeks in, but it didn’t really phase me because the border crossings were so nonchalant and simple; plus I was so tired out of my mind I didn’t really notice.
Around ten, I tried to fall completely asleep, but the background music was louder up where we were sitting, so during my 9 hour “sleep” (which was more like restless shifting in my seat) I listened to some more Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros on shuffle. In the morning, we stopped at one other spot for a bathroom break, and then I think after that I had a good two to three hour nap. Because when I woke up, we were driving through this desert almost sand dune-like area, and right after, we hit Lima. Big, dirty, industrialized, and busy. And smoggy. But we arrived at the bus station around two in the afternoon without any complications, and then caught a taxi for 15 soles (that’s another big change; we’re off the American dollar now; it’s about 2.78 soles/1 dollar, so three bucks for a cab? Definitely more expensive than Ecuador, and the first guy wanted to charge us 30 soles!). Our hostel, Pariwana, is located in the heart of Miraflores, the touristy zone of this giant city. We’re only here for the night, in a four person room with bunk beds that we’re sharing with this guy from Israel (which is weird because we met a whole crew of Israelis in Montañita; apparently that’s the norm for them; after high school, they serve in the military for some three years and then a lot of them take a year to travel and work before starting school). Our flight leaves tomorrow at 9:30, so we’re gonna get an early and probably pricey taxi around 6:45; the airport’s at least a half hour away, according to the hostel manager.
After we got to our room, we didn’t do too much besides shower and organize our stuff for tomorrow. We’re gonna leave some stuff here for free so we’ll have less of a load to take to Cusco, and we’ll be in this hostel again when we come back to Lima a week tomorrow. We found our friend Jonny who’s coming to Machu Picchu with us, who’s staying in a hostel nearby, and went out for dinner. We had some cheap but yummy Chinese food for like three bucks, and now I’m just chilling in the room, ready to sleep. I hope acclimatizing to Cusco isn’t difficult tomorrow; I’m banking on the fact that since I was fine in Quito, I’ll be fine there as well, but we’ll see. We’ve got a four day trek starting Friday to get through, so cross your fingers for me! I still can’t believe I’m in another country; definitely feeling the Ecuador withdrawals already. But I know that Cusco and Lima are going to be amazing, I just have to be as open and as excited for them as I was in Ecuador, and I know I’ll be fine. Te extraño y voy a seguir extrañándote, Ecuador, pero yo sé que un día voy a volver a verte. Sin duda. And now, I’ve got ten days to explore Peru; let’s go!

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