Adios Ecuador, Hola Peru! Tumbes & Zorritos

There’s a fair amount of boring text in this post, so I’ve broken it up with some nice photos of the beach and they are not in any particularly order unless captioned…. This post is a bit minimal effort I’m afraid as I’ve not been in the best mood… See spider situation explanation below! 🙂

Hut at mud pools.

Our last night in Ecuador was spent as a group, which was nice. We ended up eating at a nice local Ecuadorian restaurant, where I had the very traditional meal of had a steak and chips :-). The food took ages to come though and we were all knackered so just ended up hitting the sack for our early start the next day.

I will definitely miss Cuenca, it has a lovely feel to it. I love how the road crossings make cuckoo sounding noises! In the morning rush I also stupidly forgot to take a photograph of the amazing palatial room, gutted!

We set off on a five hour bus ride down to Huanquilla where we changed to taxis which then took us to the border. The hours went past quickly again as the scenery was actually jaw dropping. It was just incredible. We went from enormous green mountains in the mist, down through rolling hills and into banana plantations and rice paddies, ending up with having to open our windows because of the balmy coastal air.
We also has some craft activities to while away the time, making pictures and notes to thank our wonderful guide Diego, as the shops had been shut we had been able to purchase a card. His nickname with our group is “El Mandarina” which is used to tease people who are lightweights in Spanish :-), very apt giving his two beer vanishing act. We made a card with a picture of him showing off Ecuador’s volcanoes and sunny weather hidden by all the clouds and rain we have had! It has actually rained EVERY SINGLE DAY in Ecuador! Crazy!
I was also listening to my ‘Latin dance’ mix, which I downloaded before I headed over here, it’s very easy listening actually :-).

At the border we had to say goodbye to Diego which was very sad as he had very much become our friend and part of our little tour group family. But I am sure he will be glad to get home and get a fresh group of people to start annoying him!
Our new Peruvian guide is called Holger (or just Oli) and he is from Cusco. He had to get us through border security – fun.
I have never had to wait so long to be allowed OUT of a country before! It took almost two hours! We got so bored we started timing how long it took for each person ahead of us to get through and placing bets. The security officers totally knew what we were all up to though and we reckon they were playing some kind of similar game and guessing our ages or where we were from. I got through first, but you then have to queue at another counter and get stamped again for entering Peru. The man at the entry desk was very cheeky as he took my passport, showed it to the man behind him, they had a good laugh and then gave it back to me grinning away. My photo is definitely not that bad!!!

A private bus then took us from the border over to Tumbes, the closest town. We only passed through to get money out, as we have now changed from American Dollars to Neues Soles. Border towns are always horrible looking, let’s face it Dover is not Britain’s prettiest town, but there was a definite difference across the border here. The buildings changed from two storey painted houses to single storey brick houses, often painted with adverts for local political parties. In many areas the villages look a lot like shanty towns. There was also rubbish absolutely everywhere.
The scenery changes fairly dramatically too, to small sandy hills that look like relict sand dunes. Many of the hillsides have been quarried and lot are very sparsely vegetated, or appear to be covered in burnt vegetation. It’s a bit like a hillier version of a post-fire outback area, almost moon-scape like and honestly not very pretty. You can see the colouring from the iron in the sandstone and there is a lot of variation in the colour banding which is quite interesting and very clear to see as the rock is almost bare. There is obviously a lot of development going on in this area and a lot of construction work is taking place along the road and coast. But again, not very nice to look at.

On the hours drive from the border to where we were staying, at Zorritos on the coast, we got a brief introduction to Peru…
Peru was actually the last colony in South America to gain independence from Spain, in 1824 and it was in confederation with Bolivia for a while shortly afterward, but this ended in around 1839. Peru is also thought of as the gastronomic country of South America, due the availability of different foods front the different regions, although this may be self-proclaimed as our guide told us this :-). It also has the highest Chinese population in South America and signs advertising “Chifu”, Chinese food, are common. Chinese workers started arriving between 1849-79 (80-100k people arrived) to work in agriculture and other menial jobs. The population now stands at around 1 million, mainly in Lima.

Geographically Peru has 3 ecological areas, the coast, the highlands and the amazon. Within these are 24 districts of which Tumbes is the smallest and the town has around 220k people.
The region was renamed after the town due the peoples contribution to the 1941 war with Ecuador, with the region being renamed in 1942. Ecuador ended up ceding 200,000m2 of disputed territory under the Rio Protocol.Peru has also had a war with Chile, when it fought in conjunction with Bolivia, but in that case was defeated and lost territory (1879-1883).
The main exports are oil, bananas, rice and charcoal. They used to export tobacco but not so much now.

Trees with funny looking plants in Zorritos. They are apparently nicknamed something close to “idiot killers” as the giant seeds falls down and hit people on the head of their stupid enough to stand under them :-).

We arrived at our new accommodation, right on the beach and hit the ocean for a refreshing swim. The resort is a neck lodge, which roughly translates to mean that everything is made of drift wood and that there aren’t flushing toilets. To a nice location though, the beach is very empty and has lots of quaint thatched huts along its edge. The sunsets are incredible too. The huts were staying in themselves are very quaint too and again there are lots of hammocks to relax in, never a bad thing.
The beach itself is a bit pebbly, but this might be due to bad weather from the previous few days. The waves are actually quite big and I think some people might surf here sometimes. You do have to be a bit careful in the breaks through as there are quite string feeling rips and obviously no flags or lifeguards here. The water here is a great temperature, not far off Queensland, combined with the blue sunny skies and balmy early 30 degree temperatures and all the Aussies are all feeling back at home.

We had a group briefing with Oli on the Peruvian section of our trip, it all sounds a bit hectic after the pace of Ecuador, but it’s exciting to see some new places and I am super excited to get to see Nazca and Macchu Piccu.
A lovely dinner of ceviche, Pisco Sours (too easily drinkable) and sangria wound up the night, with our first true sunset of the trip. We all sat with drinks and whiled away the evening around a beach campfire, wonderful!

Our full day I’m Zorritos was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. I have hardly slept at all. I kept being woken up as I was being eaten alive and I kept waking myself up scratching, horrible!
I have also been feeling a bit weird and I think this is a combination of things. Maybe partly from coming downfall rom altitude back to sea level, the change in weather and scenery. Were in a new country and have a new guide too. I think the combination of the above and having been away from home for a few weeks constantly surrounded by a group of people has taken it out of me a bit and this was me hitting the wall.
I was feeling really quite emotional and just needed to get some personal space. I took a jog down the beach with the big headphones and then just sat for an hour and watched the waves. There are lots of tiny crabs on the beach which are really funny looking and made me smile. There are also these great big black pelicans which fly along the waves in big groups, it’s quite a sight. I sat and had a bit of a cry and tried to get it all out of my system, sometimes I think you just need one of those moments. I guess this blog was originally intended to be my personal holiday diary as are cord to look back on and then by deciding to put it online I have made it available to everyone therefore losing the desire to record all of my thoughts and purge in that way.
It also didn’t help that at breakfast I then got stung by a wasp! I think this was the final straw for me and I had to take myself off after some loud angry swearing and re-group for the day. But nothing ever gets me down for long, I’m a pretty resilient India-rubber kind of girl and snapped out of it to enjoy the rest of the day, woo bring it on! You definitely don’t travel around the world to sit and sulk or feel sorry for yourself 🙂 silly me!
We all went as a group to local mud baths, this was completely awesome and I absolutely loved it! It was so much fun, although I’m not sure that everyone in the group would agree.
There were three different pools, two had slightly different types of mud in them, just different shades of brown and another one to wash off in. We coated ourselves in thick gloopy mud, it was squeltchy between your toes, it was a bit gross, but also strangely wonderful. There’s something wonderful childlike about playing in the mud, especially when you’re not having to do it for work…
We travelled back to the hostel in the back of a truck and got lots of funny looks from other drivers along the way, not surprising as we looked like a group of swamp people! We all washed off in the ocean and it was a bit of a relief how easily the mud came off, especially out of my hair! It made my skin feel amazing and also really helped to soothe all my bites.
The largest mud pool.

Grrrr swamp people…. Looking sexy 🙂

The weather has been great, really sunny with blue skies, a welcome relief after Ecuador. Although we’re now all looking a bit pink. The group chilled out for the rest of the day, making the most of the hammocks and a day of respite before the schedule gets really hectic.

Overnight, despite sleeping wrapped up like a mummy, I was attacked again. I woke up like an angry bear that’d been forced out of hibernation and woe betide anyone who got in my way. I was full on grumpy. The antihistamines weren’t working, a combined attack of tablets and cream was not stopping the burning all over my arm – total utter misery.
After packing up my bad ready for the bus at lunchtime I realised that it wasn’t Mosquitos that had been attacking me after all. The bed was actually infested with spiders nest!!!! Hundreds of tiny yellow spiders were all over my bag and it was these that had been biting me. This also explained why they were burning so much and didn’t feel like usual mozzie bites. I’ve wound up visits a chemist and dosing up on cortisol to tackle it. I actually counted and on my arms alone, not including legs, body and face bites I have been bitten 134 times! AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!.

Early sunset views on the beach.

Hammock time 🙂

We headed back into Tumbes to catch an 8 hour bus to the city of Chiclayo. We stopped off for the local specialist of, wait for it…. “Cchicken and chips”. I spent the. Us ride pretty drugged up and catching up on some episodes of “Revenge”, I just found out who shot Emily, shocker!!!
Over the next week or so we are moving pretty quickly with single day stop overs so most posts will probably have a few locations combined. I’m hoping we get a bit of a culture, as the last few weeks have been beautiful and very scenery focused. I have loved that, but variety is always good or you stop appreciating it.

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