The Andes, Cuenca and Puerto Lopez - Tree-Hugging, Whale Watching and the delights of Chicken Buses....
We arrived back from Galapagos to find that Paddy´s gypsy curse had been lifted and his bag had been found which was fantastic news and lucky (or unlucky) for him as Debs was seriously considering finding a new boyfriend - one who didn´t smell.
Our next trip was to the Andes where we spent a few days hiking around highland villages. The scenery was absolutely spectacular - in particular, Laguna Quilitoa, an amazing crater lake which we travelled to in the back of a truck and then hiked the 14km back. We stayed at a fantastic eco-lodge called the Black Sheep which had the added bonus for Debs of being vegetarian (obviously Paddy didn´t know this until he arrived there and Debs claimed she didn´t...) After three days though, Paddy was showing signs of being a tree-hugging veggie and was producing enough methane gas to pose a serious problem to global warming so we quickly headed south by chicken bus to Cuenca.
Chicken Bus journeys in Ecuador are as chaotic as those in Central Ameria. The buses are like an inverted tardis - they look like normal buses from the outside but once inside they shrink alarmingly and at 6ft 1, Paddy has had to perfect the art of contortionism. On this particular journey, there was no doubt that it was a chicken bus as the said chicken found a target on Debs´ leg which Paddy found highly amusing until the 4 year old child sat next to him threw up over him! Add to that 100 people crammed onto a 30 seater bus, the pissed guys who were swigging wine from a carton and decided to be our friends and multiply it by 4 hours and you truly have a journey from hell! Remember this next time you´re delayed on the London Underground!
Anyway, we made it to Cuenca, a pretty colonial city in the south of Ecuador and spent a few days here relaxing before heading over to Puerto Lopez on the West Coast to see Humpback Whales. After another torturous 8 hour bus journey we decided the whales would need to put on a cabaret performance and juggle with dolphins to make this worth the effort but thankfully they didn´t disappoint and we found one of the most exhibitionist whales in the Pacific Ocean which put on an amazing show for us.
By now though, we´d spent a month in Ecuador and decided it was time to move on and so on Sunday night we took a night bus and crossed the border into Peru...