Happy even with a cold, diarrhoea, sore butt and back and a lost camera! -
Trujillo, July 2nd 2002

Everything is just fine after surviving a cold which I caught on the Galapagos, diarrhoea, a sore back and a bruise after horse riding and finally a stolen camera. I have started my real travel south now which really have meant a lot of bussing. The busses are fairly cheap like a dollar an hour and so far punctually. The big busses are to prefer, since they are usually only packed with so many people. The mini-vans tend to fill up beyond the double amount of recommended passengers. Buss rides often mean all kinds of shows, everything from people selling candy and needles to stand-up comedy and aids information. The rides also includes major dangers since everyone is driving as crazy, speeding and overtaking whenever however wherever.

From Quito I went down to Baños, a spa and party town. The problem was that the warm pools weren't all that impressive and I got there on a Monday which meant I was fairly lonely in town. It was cheap and relaxed though. Did some more hard core climbing in the mountains but did cheat this time and let a horse do the job. I joined some Americans for the eight hours horse riding in the mountains which was great. Great scenery and some scary expansion bridges like the Indiana Jones ones with deep canyons below even if there weren't any crocodiles involved. Did a lot of galloping on the tiny tracks on the mountain sides, so we were lucky our horses did there miss-steps at the right places. We had a great dinner at a small hut in a tiny village where the locals looked interested at us. I did get a sore butt and back including a bruise after the riding which have meant a couple of days of bad sleep and problems sitting down.

I continued to Riobamba where I joined a nice German couple for the train Nariz del Diablo - The devil's nose. It was no good timing with diarrhoea doing a long train trip, but a stopper did the work quite well. The train went trough valleys and mountains with beautiful gorges and rivers. The Ecuadorians sat in comfy seats inside while we travellers sat cramped on the roof of the freight wagons, for the view, probably paying tenth fold. The price segregation towards foreigners is of common practise here e.g. I paid $100 entrance fee to the Galapagos while Ecuadorians paid $6. The roof ride wasn't the best remedy for my sore butt since previous day riding. But we got good value for the money since it took us 8 hours instead of 5 due to the locomotive kept breaking down and one of the wagons de-railed. It was a good show though to see how they just took out the get-a-wagon-up-on-the-track-kit and solved the problem in half an hour.

Went to the very nice city of Cueñca where all the streets had cobble stones even if it was a fairly big town. It had character and a lot of things to do. While talking with a Scottish guy in a park my fairly expensive camera was stolen (sure hope he was´t in on it but I doubt that), without me noticing. I spent a lot of time at the Ministry of Tourism just to get a slip of paper for my insurance, since the chance of getting the camera back is nil. Fortunately I only lost one role of film and hope to be able to replace some photos from the train ride at least, since I there on the roof bumped into Anna and Helena two Swedish girls with whom I did the Galapagos tour. I'm having trouble finding a camera I want so I'm hoping for a replacement one from London with some friends flying in, joining the trip.

Decided to head on and partied in Loja with some friends to an Ecuadorian girl I had met in Quito. Then I had two very relaxed days in Vilcabamba. There was a hostel which had kind of monopoly of all travellers at some kind of club-med resort with pool, soccer court, videos, hammocks, good food and great partying. Good place to chill out, get away from everyday travelling and exchange travel tips about different countries and places.

Took a night buss, crossed the border to Peru and am now in Trujillo, some 500 km south of the border, after 20 hours of travelling. Staying at a hostel where the rooms look like old fashion prison cell and I don't even want to describe the shared toilets. It's a nice city though and I'll do some sightseeing tomorrow at the surrounding Moche pre-Inca crumbles. The country is a lot different from Ecuador. Seems to be about 50 years behind and less organized. The streets are filled with yellow cabs and moped-taxis while being lined with street vendors, internet places, places to get photo copies (on every corner for some unknown reason) and millions of shoe stores.

Have a good one, love Emil