It´s been a while since we last wrote and we are now, sadly, in our last country (we´ve managed to reach a count of 20 though!).
Our last week or so in Peru was spent heading north towards the Ecuadorian border. On the way up we stopped at Trujillo and Mancora. We spent a couple of days looking around the city of Trujillo and the impressive ruins outside of the city. Two major civilisations were based around Trujillo - the Moche and Chimu peoples. After our guide´s stories regarding how the Incan people conquered the Chimu people we were wondering how believable the stories of the "peaceful" Incas were - told by our trek guides at Machu Picchu. The ruins were interesting, especially as our guide was quite enthusiastic. We saw the moon and sun temples of the Moche people, which had impressively well preserved paintings and wall decorations. The Chimu city of ChanChan (meaning very sunny) was massive. Although the favourite Chimu ruin was the ArcoIris temple (rainbow temple) where many children were sacrificed to the Gods - check out the wall decorations in the photos of snakes eating children. Quite horrible really but interesting.
From Trujillo we headed up to the beach party area of Mancora (after a mental half hour running around Trujillo trying to find the correct bus terminal!). Mancora was chilled and hot, a pleasant beach (if not the nicest we´ve seen) and cold beer! It was a much needed break before the week ahead.
It was then onto Ecuador, and due to our plans at the time we decided to head straight up to Quito (with the intention of seeing more of southern Ecuador on our return down to Peru, but now this isn´t going to happen!). We had a long and frustrating few hours waiting for a bus from Mancora to the Ecuadorian border, where we would get a bus to Quito. It wasn´t the most pleasant border crossing but luckily we had a local helping us out who took care of us and made sure we got on a bus out of the border town Huanqilla.
Arriving in Quito at 7.30 in the morning we made the most of our planned one day in Ecuador (again with the intention of seeing more on the way back). We headed out to the equator line - Mitad Del Mundo (middle earth) - for some classic touristy photos (and the fun of jumping from northern to southern hemisphere and back again), and visited an old volcanic crater - Pululahua (try saying that to the bus conductor) - with beautiful surrounding landscape before heading back to Quito´s center. We managed to fit in a small walking tour of Quito´s old town before going back to the hostel and crashing.
The next morning it was another early start to reach the opposite border of Ecuador to enter Colombia. Our crazy taxi driver got us on a good bus by racing across town, on the wrong side of the road, and flagging a random bus down. After a longer than expected bus journey to the border town, Tulcan, and a slightly better crossing than two days before and we were into Colombia. We headed straight up to a town called Pasto for the night (only a couple of hours from the border).
Wanting to reach Bogota for a weekend so that we could meet up with friends we decided to head straight to Bogota from Pasto on a nice long bus journey. Told it was 18 hours it was no wonder that after 26 hours we were abit worse for wear. The reason for the hold up was due to violent protests and road blocks going on outside the city of Cali. The bus stopped for almost 5 hours during the night as they had received warning from the police that no one could travel through a certain point on the road. Once the block was cleared (about 9am) we drove past hundreds of fully armed police chasing (and shooting at) protesters who were throwing things at them in return. Was pretty exciting but good to get through.