Hola Ecuador! Macara & Loja

Marie was pretty ill before we got the bus from Piura, Peru, but really wanted to cross the border to Ecuador. We did have tickets to Loja 8 hours from Piura but after crossing the border the bus stopped for lunch in the Ecuadorian border town of Macara, 3 1/2 hours into the journey and we had to bail off there. Unlike the Cochabamba incident this time she managed not to throw up in the street (well we’d only just entered the country…) and politely waited until the second that we got into our room.

IMG_3741The border crossing itself was easy, stamp out of Peru walk over a bridge stamp into Ecuador (on the Ecuadorian side they didn’t even look at us, just literally processed any passport shoved in front of them).

Macara is a laidback small town surrounded by jungle, its so laid back that shopkeepers even have hammocks outside their shops to lie in when they have no customers. Temperatures ranged from early 30 degrees during the day to 17/18 degrees at night, we wanted one of those hammocks! There’s nothing really to do there – just as well as we didn’t feel like doing much. We did find an internet cafe though. We got a glimpse of a fellow traveller’s LP Ecuador (Macara isn’t even in our LP South America Shoestring guide) before we bailed from the bus and it said ‘don’t even think about eating here you won’t find anything.’ Once again LP is wrong, come late afternoon a food vendor sets up and sells chicken and chips – Emma passed on the chicken, Marie passed on food altogether.

Next day we were going to resume the journey to Loja but Emma had a bout of illness (nowhere near as good as Marie’s bout though) so we spent another slow day in Macara. We managed to find biscuits, cake and a tin of tuna that were edible and an avocado and bread that wasn’t. Chips again for dinner.

IMG_3751When we did finally make the journey to Loja the following day we realised what a good call we’d made staying in Macara. 5 hours of windy bumpy roads up and down hill. The taxis’ in Macara should have given us a good hint, as they were all pickup trucks. We had our first countryside bus ‘hold up’ – a traffic jam caused by everyone stopping to help a digger and a lorry drag a car back up that had gone down the side of a short cliff. God knows how they’d managed it, there was a kerb that must have been the best part of a foot high, the road wasn’t too bad and the cliff was only about 20 meters. Strangely after our bus men finished helping, the driver took to driving like a maniac for the next hour on the increasingly windy road. We did the only thing we could do, stuck our seatbelts on, stuck our heads out of the window and thoroughly enjoyed it!

The scenery was great (but Ecuadorian scenery doesn’t seem to photograph very well, often in other people’s photos the scenery looks pretty rubbish but we can now see how good it actually is). In parts it’s reminiscent of NZ, what we call lumpy land, and in others its like SE Asia without the humidity, there was even loads of rice paddies just outside Macara. On first impressions we like Ecuador! Macara was a bit hot though and we were glad to get to cooler Loja, where we spent a chilled afternoon mooching about.

Observations:

  • We’ve realised that some places we’re going to be going on this trip will be bloody hot
  • Ecuadorian bread tastes like shit, even the savoury bread is as sweet as hell
  • Roads in Peru are better, as are the bus drivers
  • Ecuadorians aren’t as friendly as Peruvians and talk fast and quietly, we’re hoping this is just a southern accent…
  • Bin lorries play ice cream van noises, this seems misleading!

Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through

 


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