“Can you marry me, just for 2 months”, Guayaquil, June 16th, 2011

Traveling long distance can be done in very different ways, it’s the mixture that makes you experience the most. Taking the most local bus places you next to chickens, lets you freeze at night but also lets you meet people and get to know the culture. Sometimes however, you need to ride in style. Cruz del Sur is by far the upper end of bus travel in Peru with 2 floors, descent food, on time and even wifi service on board. We topped it by booking our trip to Lima on a day that we even got us the front panoramic windows. It was worth it.

For hours and hours we did not know if it is the Pacific Ocean that we see at the end of the dessert on after sleeping well on this night to Wednesday, June 8th. It was the fog hanging on top of an oasis. In Lima colonial style hotel “Espania” surprised with birds, cats, dogs and turkeys among the floors and terraces. The latter one I got to hold myself at the great food market just seconds before it was their time to become our dinner. Sounds cruel, partly it is, but Thomas and I agree that here you only see what in the western world (maybe much more brutal) is hidden behind big farm walls.

By coincidence we got into a reception held by the Peru president (the bigger one in the picture with a kid on his lab) for Peru -- African culture. (Back in the days the Spanish brought millions of slaves here to work in the mines. Now they try to remember their origin and celebrate their culture). They danced well but the audience attention got a dog who caused varies security guys to panic. Only after 5 minutes they managed to “walk” him out of the danger zone. We laughed so hard, see the pictures. Then we enjoyed Lima at night, a city full of contrasts but for sure surprisingly modern, safe and culturally enhancing.

Trujillo is a small town up north in Peru and for most travelers rather a brake in a long journey than a real destination. So for us but the city tried hard to make us feel comfortable and to show us their great heritage. The comfortable part worked with a nice hotel and fantastic local food. The great Chan Chan (a tribe like the Incas) history with temples and all kinds of findings only our guide understood. With passion she explained every detail. Only that passion made us survive the 4 hour tour. Much more scenic was the Ocean front and we just had to take those cliché pictures. Isn’t it nice??? Smile.

The border crossing into Ecuador on this Monday the 13th of June certainly was the most intense of all. For 4 hours we had to wait in the hot sun. The systems were down and without computers also South America is helpless. Guayaquil is a multi million coast city which lacks any kind of character as it is relatively new built and the economic strong hold, while Quieto serves as capital. We only left our bags here (as we later fly to Galapagos from here) and took off to Cuenca, the third biggest town of Ecuador, in the middle of the Andes. Now that city has character and got our hearts the moment we left the hostel for a walk. A lost bet against Thomas (I know the year and place of each world cup since 1950 except for that stupid one in Chile 1962) made me pay the dinner but hey, 40 dollars for a 5 star meal in an old colonial hotel, that’s ok. (Don’t get me wrong, normally we eat for 10 dollars, both together)

After Lima, Guayaquil and Cuenca it was important for me to get out of town again and we certainly did. Sigsig is the last village before the road ends as the Andes become harsh. Its famous for its Panama hat production (Sombreros). No joke, all women in the village, may it be while walking, breast feeding or cooking hold that material in their hands and work of these hats. At the “factory” they then turn them in to get the final touch. We went there for fun but ended up being the ones laughed at. We actually bought 2 of these hats, I still can not believe it.

With our hats on we took a longer walk with great views and some local insights before hitching back to the center with a pick up truck carrying a screaming pig on the bag. Maybe it knew what was coming.

Thursday we had our highlights of another, a rather surprising kind. Two days before we I bought an Ecuadorian football shirt (for who we will see…) in a family run sports store. Long talks about the owner having met Pele and so on ended in a nice photo and the dinner recommendation that cost me 40 Dollars. We printed the photo and when giving it to the 71year old store owner he was so touched that he hugged us and “forced” us to take two more Ecuadorian football shirts, in our size and for free. Wow, these human moments are why I / we do this trip.

As it was along the way we wanted to take a short walk into Caja National Park. The chosen route was supposed to take 2 hours, we calculated on 2 as we are Thomas and Frank, the great Trekkers. Well, it turned out to be one of the toughest hikes, more than 4 hours, panicking in between as rain set it, as it got dark and as we could not find the way back. But, as things went well, we can laugh about it now and one of the funniest videos ever will remind us of it.

The regular bus did not stop to take us back to Guayaquil. So we had to hitchhike from the National park. Two ladies with their kids gave us a lift on the back of their pick up truck.

These two power women were amazing, interesting and fun. Both married but their husbands work in the US, like so many Ecuadorians. They only see them 4month per year. Going to them to the US or any other western country is extremely difficult. They dream about a possibility to get a Visa and they would do everything it takes to get it and to make their dreams come true. “Can you marry me, just for 2 months?” they asked after maybe 15 minutes and they were serious about it. Politely we rejected the offer but realizing once more how gifted we are, living in Germany, having German passports and German incomes. Without these incomes lots would not be possible, especially what we were about to do. Going to the Galapagos islands the very next day…………………………….

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  • Gabor says:

    1) Your target regarding the new seven world wonders is completed? Which “wonder” is still missing? It seems to be, that you will complete your mission faster than I will do.

    2) I did not know how many different styles of descending a mountain excist :-) . But the method Thomas came down looks very fast and save.

    Wish you a nice stay in the US – greetings from Bavaria.

  • gabor says:

    Hi Frank,

    mission new seven world wonders completed or still one wonder missing? Looks like, that your mission is more successful than mine (still 3 summits not climbed).

    Did not know how many different ways of “coming down” a mountain excist. But the way Thomas did look very safe, fast and easily = “Vorsprung durch Technik”. And his trowser was still in a good shape.

    Wish you a nice time in CAN and the US.

    • frank4444 says:

      Well, I will do the maja pyramide in Mexico soon and then the only wonder I miss is the closest to home, rom, Italy. That I will hit on my way back. Now that I got 5 I want to finish the seven. Right.

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