Ecuador 5: Galapagos to Piura, Peru

The team woke early and prepared for the recommencement of racing by quickly packing.  Racing out to the street they hailed a cab and were driven to Puerto Ayora’s terminal Terrestre, an oddly large structure for an island that has only one bus route.

Riding the morning bus service to the Canal took the normal hour. There the team completed the short ferry ride across the water and rode the free bus to the airport terminal.  After checking in and some last minute souvenir shopping they boarded their flight to Guayaquil.

The uneventful flight soon deposited the team back at Guayaquil airport where they took a cab over to the massive bus station.  Tickets were bought for the afternoon bus to Cuenca. Simon and Ang were pleased at how the morning had gone and were glad to still be leading the race.

The bus arrived in Cuenca without incident and the team stayed overnight in a quaint colonial hospedaje.  The next morning, after a walk around the city and an attempt to sell one of the team’s cameras to a camera shop, the team returned to the bus station.  Tickets were purchased and the team boarded another bus heading south for the border town of Loja, close to the Peruvian boarder.

Cuenca town Mary Poppins is now sadly without a working umbrella
Happiest windmill in all Ecuador on the road to Loja Roadside roasted pig stand

Arriving in Loja, they once again found accommodation and walked around the surprisingly pleasant town.  On their walk, the team observed a protest march by some Ecuadorian union types.  Later, an eating challenge was completed with the team consuming a large quantity of tamales.  With this challenge completed, the team received their next clue, and early the next morning boarded an international bus to the Peruvian town of Piura.

Union protest, Loja style Lots of roja flags in Loja
The start of the Tamale challenge

The bus ride into Peru and border crossing was straight forward.  Arriving in Piura, the team was confronted with a huge number of tuk tuks and market chaos.  Ang commented that “it feels like India, especially after the Galapagos”.   Once again accommodation was found and the team enjoyed a fantastic meal at a Peruvian fusion restaurant before receiving their next clue to fly to the town of Cuzco.

Interesting southern Ecuadorian trees
Fruit pickers in transit Friendly Peruvian fruit farmers

Waking early, the team took a taxi to the airport where their boarded a flight south to Cuzco via Lima.  The Taca flight was delayed leaving, so upon arrival in Lima the team only had moments to spare to make the connection.  Racing through the airport the team soon arrived at the boarding gate and were met by a Taca representative.  Unfortunately they were too late for the connecting flight, arriving at the gate at 11am, minutes after boarding had closed.

Initially told by the ground staff that the team would have to spend the night in Lima, Simon and Ang negotiated to be put on another flight.  They were transferred to a LAN flight at 2pm.  Due to all the time taken to arrange this transfer, Simon and Ang had less than one hour left to locate their bags and check in to the LAN operated flight to Cuzco and go back through security.

They raced back out past baggage claim, urged the TACA staff to locate their bags, waited while these were found, raced to the enormous LAN queue and just made check in with minutes to spare.  They raced through security and straight onto the plane.  Both Simon and Ang were relieved they didn’t have to spend a night in Lima and glad they had managed to avoid a delay that could have cost them the race.

Arriving in Cuzco the team took a taxi to the main Plaza De Armas and located accommodation.  There, out of breath on account of the high altitude, they checked into the pit stop for this leg of the race, a lovely hostel with private rooms overlooking gorgeous Cuzco.

Ang finds it difficult to climb the hill at this altitude
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