A Travellerspoint blog

Rickshawing into Peru

rain 60 °F
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My bus-foot-bus-rickshaw-foot-collectivo-collectivo ride from Ecuador to Peru was sadly quite uneventful. Lots English speaking scam artists tried to relieve me of a bit of my of money, but I am far too hardened a traveler to fall for border scams. I eventually made it to the beach town of Mancora where I had my first experience with Peruvian hospitality. I sat down by myself for a beer at the beach to celebrate being in Peru and a Chinese guy started talking to me in Spanish, which was a bit strange at first, but it turns out there are Chinese immigrants all over Peru. Anyway, a group of four Peruvians vacationing from Lima liked me so much that they bought me dinner and drinks for the rest of the night. All I had to do was speak my Spanish and throw out a few dirty words here and there that I learned from Gus and Jorge back in 7th grade. Unfortunately I didn´t want to lose my built-up altitude acclimatization by hanging out at sea level too long, so I made a three bus, twenty hour journey the next night to Huaraz.

There is a road that leads to the mountain town of Huaraz that famously runs along a dirt road and through 43 unlit tunnels. Many travelers manipulate their schedule to make sure they travel this road, but I somehow just ended up on it, as I had no idea it even existed. The sounds of chirping chicks and squealing guinea pigs from the cages beside me provided an apt soundtrack for the long, dirty journey.

Anyone ever tried ice climbing at over 16,500 feet? There is about half the oxygen as sea level which makes even the smallest task, like walking around the corner of the glacier to make yellow snow, difficult. Of course it doesn´t help that I tend to swing the ice axe like a Neanderthal.

Finally, I took a two day trek with Scottish Ross and Welsh Annalli around one of the most beautiful, but mostly fog covered, parks on earth. We bumped into a crazy guy from Colorado who was packed with ice axes and crampons and set to climb solo up a peak that our guide said was not possible to climb (much more about Shaun in the next update.) I don´t think he made it the whole way. Oh, and drinking wine at high altitude gets you drunk very quickly.

So with all the adventure activities I have been doing lately, surely I am going to hurt myself sooner or later. It happened as I stepped out of the shower: a quick slip and fall and my left wrist was put out of commission for a week. Apparently, x-rays only cost three dollars out here and my expertise with viewing them over the years tells me that nothing is broken, but I am open to more educated opinions.

Lima sucks, so I didn´t stay there long.


Sometimes you just end up on a rickshaw

Sweet name for a restaurant in Mancora, Peru

A day at the beach

Having a heart-to-heart with my new amigo Isreal

This bus protected by Rambo

One of 43 tunnels on the road to Huaraz

Roadside fruit stalls

High in the Andes near Huaraz

Glaciers and lakes in thin air

Breaking the ice at 16,500 feet

Bad tasting mineral water bubbling to the surface

Orange chair and its shadow

First view of Huascaran National Park

Lakeside in Huascaran

Camouflage boats

The Cordillera Blanca mountain range

Sleeping is not so easy in the thin air at 4680 meters

At the refugio with Annalli, Felix, Shuan and Ross

One of the 30 some-odd over 6000 meter peaks

The damn clouds finally clear a bit for a view of El Huascaran

Lago 69 is perhaps the most beautiful lake on earth

The glacial melt water was just too damn inviting

Some old building on the path

Polylepis or Arbol de Papel is the highest growing tree in the world

Winding river

No broken scaphoid makes me very happy

View of Huaraz from Cafe Andino

Mountain sunset from the hostel

You can even find Hello Kitty in Lima

Posted by tommydavis 12:04 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Papas! Papitas! Papas Fritas!

all seasons in one day 0 °F
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Ecuadorians wrote the book on vending in buses. In fact, each time the bus stops at a traffic signal, a neatly organized group of vendors boards the bus and performs a ballet of sorts: sliding beside one another down the isle, yelling about their product about twice a second and in a monotone, yet piercing voice: ¨Helados, helados, helados¨ (ice cream cones), ¨papas, papitas, papas fritas¨ (chips or fries, sometimes with sausage or ketchup on top), ¨chiplets, chiplets¨ (fried banana chips.) A veritable arsenal of artery assaulting products sail one inch past your face before you know what hit you.

Other, more creative money making ventures include preaching (singing, rapping and beat-boxing works too) about Jesus and telling jokes as a prelude to offering your product. I was a bit out of it from Riobamba to Cuenca, but I am pretty sure one salesman told the following joke:

¨¿Qual es? ¿Qual es? ¿Qual es? ¿Qual es? ¿Cuando hay cabeza sin cerebro? ¡Se llama una mujer!¨

This translates as follows:

¨What do you call? What do you call? What do you call? What do you call? When there is a head without a brain? It´s called a woman!

Everyone on the bus was silent except for me of course, who was giggling away at the thought-provoking joke and Australian Johnny who had his sweatshirt over his face to hide his laughter. I don´t think anyone bought the cream wafers he was selling.

I guess the last time I checked in, I was doing the whole Quito thing. Since then I have worked my way around Quito and finally uprooted myself for the southbound journey:

There was Otavalo with my good friends Olof from Sweeden and Tim from Australia. We did some nice hiking, with and without rain, through dusty towns to waterfalls and lakes. Also, we managed to catch the local cock fight at, get this: the Otavalo Municipal Cock Fighting Ring. Cockfighting in Ecuador is sort of comparable to monster truck rallies in America: plenty of booze and rednecks.

The cloud forest town of Mindo was pretty relaxing except for the 15 km or so hike by myself. I know I was the first one on the path that morning because I caught many fresh spider webs strewn across the path. I realize now that my new hat is effective as a crumple zone for spider webs so my face does not take a direct hit. Also in Mindo I had the worst meal of all time: steamed rice, steamed potatoes, and steamed pig skin. Luckily I keep a bottle of habañero hot sauce in my pocket to make these kind of dishes palatable.

Maybe the most beautiful town I have ever seen, Baños was my base for a 60 km, mostly downhill bike ride past dark green semi-tropical Andean mountains and white-water rivers. After the rain came, the bus wouldn´t pick me up with my bike so I had to hitchhike with some guys back to Baños. I stopped trying to talk to them because the driver would turn 180 degrees to look at me and answer my questions. The crazy bastard almost made us fly off a few cliffs. Other than that, there were a couple of nice city and volcano view hikes and some local hot springs. My friends Johnny and Elina love recounting the story of the half-cooked fat American guy they met there who claimed (in a very fat American accent) that the pools ¨used to be five degrees hotter.¨

I am in Cuenca now, toward the south of Ecuador. I did a high altitude hike in Cajas National Park, got my hat reformed (no one told me they warp in the rain), and was shown by a guy in a wheel chair how to dance... no shit, I was that bad. I am determined to make it into Peru by tomorrow. Suddenly I am on a frantic sight-seeing run through Peru and Bolivia to meet Erin in Buenos Aires in mid-December. Until then, the adventures will be relentless and at high altitude.


Very multi-cultural in my Vietnamese purple poncho and Panama hat

A bunch of Ecuadorian rednecks comparing cocks

Weighing the cock

Two cocks going at it

In Otavalo with Olof and Tim in our liederhosen

Didn´t anyone tell these people that infants and rapids don´t mix?

Hola path called mystery

Back in the back of a pickup

Lake Cuicocha

Volleyball at the Mindo hotel

Eduardo making me breakfast

Supposedly, this bunny is only a pet and not food

Hiking in Mindo

Stairway to Cascada de la Reina

Man, was I excited to find this in the jungle

Dodgy looking ladder

A couple of bridges

If this guy lets go, he falls about 300 feet

This butterfly is the size of my hand

Church in Baños

Bridge in Baños

Night shot from the youth hostel

These pitch-black tunnels are especially scary on a bike

Half of Pailon del Diablo Falls

Some river near Puyo

Not quite finished building

Cuy cage

These kids offered to sell me a live cuy for $5 and a live sheep for $45

Anti-climactic view after a tough hike

Fancy resort above Baños



View from my reading spot at the youth hostel in Baños

The bathroom door is made for Ecuadorians, not me

Remember the story of the pigskin lunch...

Light sneaking into the doors of the New Cathedral in Cuenca

In Cuenca with Elina (Finland) and Johnny (Australia)

Riverside in Cuenca

Anyone who has traveled here knows how lucky I am to find such a machine

Inca ruins in Cuenca (I think)

Nice brick facade

Parque Nacional Cajas

Hiking with Elina and a coupe of French Canadian guys

Leave it to the French to smoke when it is hard to breath (about 14000 feet)

Stream in Cajas

Another view of Cajas

Soggy ground in Cajas

New Cathedral in Cuenca

Cuenca Town

Posted by tommydavis 10:15 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

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