Ciao Ecuador, Hola Peru

Trip Start May 01, 2008
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13
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Trip End Jul 09, 2008


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Monday, June 16, 2008

Claire:

Agh how is it a week since I last wrote this? Time is going scarily fast and I swear its getting muy rapido everyday.

You will be pleased to hear that Scott not only survived White Water Rafting but had a very enjoyable experience and has become something of a waterbaby as a result - as I write this he is out having a 2 hour introductory surfing lesson, wet suit and all. I took one look at the waves and knew it wasnt for me.

So where did I leave off last time... we were in Tena, I think. That evening we went out to an Italian place (the only place open in town) and between about 6 of us managed to eat the restaurant out of pizza and pasta. The next day we had our first big drive - 10 hours - all the way to Rio Verde just outside Banos. Banos is an ok kind of place but one mid-sized south American town doesnt differ that much from any other mid-sized south American town as far as I can tell so far, so it was the activities on offer and surrounding sites that had us most entertained.

Banos is named as such because of the thermal baths (Banos = bathrooms or bath in Spanish, as Mark im sure will be able to tell you) and is nestled amongst some pretty significant volanoes and hills and the like. On the first day a group of us went horse riding up into the mountains. It was the first time all of us, except Emma our new friend from Milton Keynes, had ever even got on a horse (mum, do you remember when you used to take me riding and i refused to get on the horse because i  thought id look daft in a helmet? I was 3 or something at the time) so we werent the most graceful looking group youve ever seen. In fact, Scott looked so ridiculous that I spent most of my time almost falling off because I was laughing so much I couldnt balance. They told us wed do an easy route, but the horses galloped away anyway (Ecuadorian horses arent very obedient, it would seem) and my helmet didnt fit properly so that was knocking me out with every bump, and then the horses all speak Spanish so they didnt understand woah which I kept instinctively yelling out. It was great fun. We got to a great vatnage point over Banos and the river running through it, and we visited a waterfall before lunch, where a German lady gave us some chocolate cake. certainly a highlight. After horseriding we took a ride on the tarabinas (little shopping trolleys on a string that go across the river, about 200m up in the air, to take you from one side of the valley to the other. We found ourselves at the top of a huge waterfall, looking out over the water below us and the valley. Not a bad view!

That afternoon I had my first cooking duty (cue the food poisoning) so I got cracking of the roast chickies while Scott went with some of the guys to go see another waterfall just near our campsite, which was apparently pretty spectacular. Craig and I made a yummy roast dinner and I actually quite enjoyed it. I felt quite motherly, providing nourishment for 15 tired and hungry souls. Plus, as the chef I had to sample the chickens before I served them and they had goooood skin.

Next day Scott and I got up early to go see that waterfall again. It lived up to its reputation, and blew us both away. Almost literally, its that powerful. Plus, you can crawl under these rocks for a few metres and then you come out and you`re actually stood behind the waterfall. We freecamped that night, in a little field just off the main road in the hills.

Next up was another 10 hour drive day, taking us out of Ecuador and into Peru. After going through the least official looking customs bureau Ive ever seen (as soon as they realised we were British, the customs men were more interested in telling us how Germany were being beaten by Croatia - i think - than in checking our passports). We were stamped out, stamped in, and then off into Peru. We spent three idyllic nights camping on the beach at Punta Sal, in the northern most part of Peru. The beach was pretty much deserted as Punta Sal is a tiny little development (growing by the week, however, according to the driver) so we had practically our own private beach. it was the first time Id seen the Pacific Ocean so that was cause for celebration. its true, btw, the Pacific really is a lot warmer than the Atlantic. It was so relaxing! We spent the three days chilling out, sunbathing, getting as much sand as possible in our tent, avoiding sand flies, failing to avoid sandflies, sitting around the campfire with a beer or vodka and coke in the hand (depending on whether youre Scott or me), cooking chickens on spits and tunas on the BBQ, playing volleyball, playing french cricket, swimming, and generally having a good old R.E.L.A.X. Loved it. Andy also taught us how to make mars bar vodkas and we managed to get through 8 litres of it in 2 nights between the 15 of us. An amazing invention that I look forward to bringing back to England with me in November, just in time for Christmas!

Now we are in Huanchaco, another beach town further south. We only got here late last night and were moving on tomorrow, but it gave us enough time to see the Chan Chan ruins this morning and now this afternoon Scott is, as I say, surfing and Im about to go look for some more useless crap to bring home as souvenirs. I was also planning on writing some postcards but when we got to the stamp shop, they tried to charge us the equivalent of 11 pounds for 10 stamps. so im afraid only immediate family are going to be getting any Peru Postcards any time soon! Yvonne/Mark, what is your postcode??

Dad, Ive been told it may have been fathers day at home yesterday, although theres an argument on the truck as to whether it was this weekend just gone or the one coming up. Happy Fathers day for whenever it is, anyway. Have a breakfast in bed on me.

Fern, how round are you now? Are you sticking mostly outwards or roundwards? Scott and I go on about you a lot, cos were thinking about you a lot.

How is Euro 2008 going on? A summary of all the upsets and news would be awesome from anyone who has the time.

Im off, speak to you later. xxxxxxx

PS. Paddington Bear lied. Peru is neither dark nor particularly deep. xx
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