Trip Start Aug 23, 2006
32Trip End Apr 15, 2007
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Loja turned out to be like so many other towns in Ecuador, built around a central square and cathedral which is surrounded by retail and business districts. Chain and mega stores are glaringly absent, here it's still the land of the mom & pop pharmacy, bookstore, tailor or coffee shop. The streets were all decorated for Christmas, and we were lucky enough to catch the town Christmas nativity pageant and parade that night, which, strangely enough, seemed to be organized and run by the local army detachment
The next day, having about 10 hours to burn until our night bus to Peru, we headed off for the local university's nature park. We ended up being given a guided tour by 3 students in the forestry program who saw this as the perfect opportunity to practice their English. They were great company, giving us a quick tutorial on Ecuadoran flora and fauna, local delicacies, politics, pretty much whatever came to mind. They turned what would have been a plain old walk in the woods into a whole lot more.
After a month in Ecuador, we're doubtful we'll find anyplace that will top it, though of course we're still going to try. Genuinely friendly people, incredible scenery and wildlife, and more things to do than you could ever pack into just a month.
We're in Chiclayo, Peru now, about to grab a night bus for a 12 hour ride to the east to visit a slightly off the beaten path mountain fortress that's said to rival Machu Pichu. We'll let you know if it's even remotely true.