. It weaved its way down and up mountains. It is going to be a real feat of engineering when it is completed as the terrain is impossible. But as it is now, it is basically a single, muddy track with construction vehicles rushing up and down. Once we had to stop for 1½ hours while they cleared up a minor landslide on the road! At this point the road was so narrow that we had to stop right on the edge of a cliff, and I couldn’t even open my door…..The road had patches where it had eroded, and the drop down was just too scary….. We had hoped to get further than St Ignatius but ended up exhausted, at the only hotel there for the night. St Ignacio is a little town on the side of a steep mountain, and everyone gets around on motorbike (tuktuk-like things) with a 2-seated covered contraption on the back. They are called mototaxis. They are all decorated, some with velvet curtains, Ferrari stickers etc. We hired one to take us up to the central square where we hoped to get our Peru insurance sorted out. (After much debate in Spanish, with the hotel manager also getting involved we found that we didn’t need insurance anyway… hope that we have understood that right!)
From San Ignacio we then headed for Chachapoyas. Chachapoyas is a pretty little town with everything happening around the central square. Yesterday we were astonished to discover that Halloween is celebrated with great gusto in Peru
. All the excited little kids were running around dressed up as Zorro/ Superman etc and letting off crackers. We are staying in a hostel (just no camping space in these places!) with our vehicle parked in the municipal parking lot. The Hostel Revash is a traditional double-storied old building on the square with wooden balconies running around the inside and the rooms off that. The rooms are totally non-private as they all have double-doored window shutters that open out into the courtyard. The people next to us had their TV on last night until late and it was just so loud. I think that everyone in the hostel was kept awake. We were very tired as we had had a 10-hour organized/guided excursion to Kuelap. Kuelap is an incredible pre-Inca walled city on the top of the highest mountain in the area. (Another drive through twists and turns!) It was only discovered in 1843 and it contains 3 times more stone than the Great Pyramid at Giza. How did people in those times do this? The trees are covered in bromeliads and there are natural orchids, hummingbirds and llamas around. We had a 30 minute walk up to the ruins which was at 3,200m but I am happy to announce that I wasn’t the slowest!!!! I did find it difficult to catch my breath…….
Tomorrow we leave Chachapoyas heading towards the coast in Northern Peru. We have enjoyed being in the Andes Mountains but look forward to being at the sea again. Of course we do return to the Andes later this month when we visit Cusco and Lake Titicaca and then cross them on our way to the Peruvian Amazon region.
We are now in Peru. Our last night in Ecuador was at Zumba where we bushcamped at Zumba River. We just pulled over and tried to get off the road, but we were obviously very visible as every vehicle (buses, rancheras - they are open sided buses - and others) hooted as they came past – all through the night! Didn't feel very safe, but we were up and away early the next morning to get through the Ecuador/Peru border at La Balsa. We dealt wiyh the Ecuador side very quickly, and then had to wait for 1½ hrs for the Peru immigration to open. (The customs section was open…) Once immigration opened we had to then go down the hill to the police, and then back to Immigration, and from there to customs! The customs guy was so busy watching his television programme (something about "Truth and Courage") that he lost all our information having laboriously entered it into his computer! But all very pleasant… It then took 7 hours to do 70kms between the border and the next town - St Ignacio! The road is under construction and it was really bad