I might say anything and not even know it. Writing this blog happens to be a fill-in just now to get through the next 55 minutes before the hotel dining room begins to serve dinner at 7 p.m. Having been doing some hard-slogging bus riding for the past two days, I have actually eaten very little, but today I have had only two apples and two small pieces of candy. Yesterday was only a little bit better, though I did get a light supper.
But, I´m in Peru! On Tuesday morning, I took off at 9 a.m. from Cuenca, Ecuador and traveled for about seven hours to Loja, Ecuador where I spent the night in a pretty good hotel ($10)….no hot water. Today, I had to rise at 5:30 a.m. to make the 7 a.m. bus and dressed in many layers in the Andean morning chill. As we came out of the high regions (gorgeous, loopy highway….all below the treeline) I stripped down to the lighter clothing underneath.
We crossed the Peruvian border around 3 p.m. by walking across the International Bridge as our bus waited up ahead, spent some time with the authorities and passport paperwork and finally continued on into Peru. This is a noticeably poorer country and much of the housing between this city of Piura and the border was made of mud bricks, wattle, woven bamboo, and tree-branch fencing. I guess also, the weather is warmer and fairly constant, so they don´t need the insulation the Ecuadorians do at the higher elevations. But, it´s pretty subsistence in most cases.
After having been at home in India for three months, I felt a little as if I was right back there, with all the three-wheel motorcycle taxis running around Piura. But, there are no beggars here, so it´s really not a good comparison. Just felt similar to be on the roadway.
My well-worn copy of The Lonely Planet is saving the day on these unannounced arrivals in strange cities. I pick out a hotel from their recommendations and then tear out the map of that city, so I can instruct the taxi driver, holding my breath that they will have a room available. The Hotel Peru here turned out to be a good surprise. It has a very fancy exterior and also a fancy lobby. Tired, dirty and hungry, I would have paid anything just to have the journey over with, so when the desk clerk showed me the calculator with 49 on it, I nodded that I would take it. However, I am now in a new currency situation – the sol – though I was still thinking in U.S. dollars because that´s what Ecuador uses.
It happened that the room cost 49 sol, and at approx. three sol to the dollar, that came to $15.85. Fantastic! Plus, it actually has hot water….not the cold that the $10 Loja hotel had to offer. I am considering perhaps staying here an extra day just to break up the travel between here and Lima. I can fly and be there in an hour, or I can continue two more days on the bus and see the country I´m passing through. Will make a decision on a full stomach.
Which should be happening in about thirty minutes, as I have made it to 6:30 p.m. without fainting. If I stay awhile in town, I will blog tomorrow. Otherwise, you shall hear from me anon. I do intend to do justice to that spinal column analogy at some point in the future, when I am neither blood-sugar-challenged nor auto-exhaust-poisoned.