The perfect place to have an existential crisis is while sitting on a bus in Ecuador or Peru. Long uninterrupted hours to do nothing but stare out the bus window, think weighty thoughts and wish you had bought food for lunch as there is still another 4 hours before you arrive. Not that I am having such a crisis. I am not actually having a crisis at all, other than the issue of how to fill long bus-ride hours. And I have many many more in my immediate future…
Recently I have travelled by bus from Quito to Baños (3.5hrs), Baños to Cuenca (
8hrs 13hrs), Cuenca to Loja (4.5hrs), Loja across the border to Piura (9hrs) and Piura to Chiclayo (3hrs).
The Baños to Cuenca trip was not exactly as seamless as explained by the woman who sold me the ticket. I should get a bus to Riobamba and then wait for the connection due to arrive 15 minutes later. All good in theory but this connection didn’t eventuate and so I ended up spending 4 hours (luckily with 2 other travellers) on a dusty intersection in Riobamba waiting for the next one. By the time I got to Cuenca it was 9pm and a 13 hour day of travel.
The views however were incredible.
Cuenca to Loja was also an interesting trip. We ascended to 3200m in thick fog. Of course our windows fogged up as well due to the warm and crowded bus. I was sitting in the front seats and couldn’t see the road at all through the wall of white in front of us. The conductor had his work cut out for him as his new job was to wipe clean holes in the windscreen so the driver could see out. No sooner than he cleared the window, it would fog back up, so eventually he stood by the side of the steering wheel, continually rubbing circles of visibility on the glass. Of course we were still going about 70km/hr, no worries.
I crossed the border by bus as well – we got let out on the Ecuadorian side and the three of us still on the bus at that point stood in line to get the exit visa from a shipping container customs office. I did get casually asked by the local agent standing outside if I had any money, but (sensing a trap) said no. Then it was a walk across the bridge over the river into Peru. Again we lined up, filled out the official visa form, received entry into Peru and got back on the bus to Piura, still several hours away. Easy! I still wouldn’t have wanted to do it at night though.
After all the windy inclines and declines of Ecuadorian roads, Peru was a straight run. Literally. I don’t think we rounded a single corner the whole way from Piura to Chiclayo. Instead of green mountain scenes out the window, it was sand as far as you could see.
Welcome to the Sechura Desert. Great place for an existential crisis or a good book. Don’t forget to pack lunch. You never know what your trip might bring…