Arequipa is beautiful and much warmer than the high Altiplano we had been cycling on. Up in the mountains the ladies had been wearing blankets wrapped around their jeans to stay warm and everyone wore puffer jackets and many layers of clothing even in the restaurants. In Arequipa people were walking around in teeshirts and shorts and during the day ladies were wearing summer dresses.
Arquipa is the second most important city after Lima and very popular with tourists. It reminded me of a larger scaled Sucre. It is surrounded by three impressive volcanoes, unfortunately as we had spent a lot of time in Sucre and Cusco we decided we wanted to move on. We were not in the mood to enjoy another city. That said we realised to move north we needed to get to Lima as there were no direct flights to Ecuador. Once in Lima we figured we could travel in land and cycle some of northern Peru.
We’d booked our tickets early in the morning and left our bikes with the agents at the bus station. This left us free to taxi into Plaza de Armas and spend some time in the city of Arequipa. We spent most of the day in a pretty plaza with cafes on terraces around the outside, mainly doing IT research. Doing the blog and planning the next stage of our adventure can be very time consuming. On this occassion the surroundings were heavenily we even managed a face time chat with Gary’s sister and mum.
Gary – Back at the bus station we found we was in the wrong place with 30 mins to go, but it wasn’t a big problem as the other station was next door and we were escorted to the right place by a friendly member of staff.
The bus was pretty sumptuous like a first class plane, reclining seats, TVs and a steward that supplied us with free food. However this was a long journey made even longer due to a rockfall on the coast road which added another 4.5hours to the journey making the bus ride a horrible 22hours.
The route the bus took is the same route that the north to south cyclists ride, to me it looked like a desolate desert stretch of road with only a few decent areas to pass through. I don’t think that cycling this route would be the most enjoyable experience.
We arrived in Lima, tired but fed and watered, we have been to Lima on a previous trip to Peru many years ago but nothing looks familiar yet.
16th to the 18th
There are some pretty bits but it’s mainly a huge noisy and smelly (pee) city. Lots of traffic and continuous care horns. The traffic lights are regularly ignored by the traffic police who stand in the road with lightsabers and encourage the traffic to jump red lights, this is frustrating for all as you are never sure when it is safe to try to cross the road as the green man means nothing here.
Ginette – we stayed 2 nights in a very noisy hostal in the city. Gary met a fellow Ukuele player and they exchanged tunes and playing techniques. The staff were friendly but the noise meant we did not get much quality sleep.
While in Lima I had a new back wheel built from hub,rim and spokes for £45 (the one I bought in Bolivia had already broke a spoke as it was not really strong enough) I had to cycle 5 mile across town to get to a shop on the third attempt that can help me. Getting back during the evening rush hour was an experience but there are some good cycle lanes in the city, unfortunately the lanes are down the central reservation so you have to contend with a lot of junction crossings with the car traffic as well.
Ginette – we tried some street food, but were not impressed with either the first was potatoes and egg, we added a sauce which was very salty. The second was corn with cheese, the corn decided more like potatoe and with no butter it was very dry, the cheese melted but did not stick to the corn. Neither options were great but at least we tried it and it filled a hole for a little while at least.
After more research we have decided to go directly to the Galapogos Islands for my brithday. It is the rainy season in North Peru and Ecuador which is not ideal for cycle touring. So we have decided once we have been to the Galapagos Islands we will fly North to Mexico and cycle back down to Peru. Well that is the plan today, BUT you know us this could change at any time.
The bus journeys took us up the Pacific highway and from our vantage point on the bus I would say that this road must be one of the least inspiring roads you could travel in Peru.
We had a stop over in Chiclayo, which had a nice plaza and a huge market to stroll around.
The border crossing into Ecuador was poorly organised, there were 3 coaches arrived at the same time so 150 people in various descriptions of queues trying to get exit and entry stamps, the process took about an hour or more of queuing with approx 1 minute of actual processing and this was all at 2am so a lot of bleary eyed travellers.
Arriving at Guayaquil, Ecuador. In a busy bus station and airport there was a different feel to the place and the people. Gone are the ladies in traditional dress and run down looking shops etc, we are now surrounded by western dress and many more western looking people and architecture of a modern shopping mall feel. Not only in the dress sense different but also in looks and height (We no longer feel like the odd ones out as tall westerners).
Our cycle ride to our air B and B took us alongside a main road on a dedicated cycle path, however every junction had a deep wide storm drain to bump over so not that well thought out. We passed some very elite looking gated and guarded estates, the area looks very affluent.
We also passed quite a few joggers some very western, I guess there may be a fairly large North American contingent in this area.
We arrived early so popped into a nearby mall for breakfast and we had to wait a while for the cafe to open. This is a huge modern mall, it was like being back in the UK, except all the goods are priced in dollars as this is now the Ecuadorean currency.
Ginette – approx 50 hours spent on a bus! The joys of travelling on a budget, it would have cost us at least £400 to fly from Lima to Guayaquil (with the bikes) in contrast it was less than a £100 on the bus so a bit of a no brainer but it was very draining.
We are both tired from the back to back overnight buses and have a few days in Guayaquil before we fly to Galapagos Islands on Tuesday.
Pictures below from Guayaquil, including Iguana Park and crab for dinner.