Of Buses and Beaches
Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
10Trip End Dec 06, 2012
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Following our Machu Picchu excursion, we packed our bags and began our week long voyage to the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador. Lucky for us though, there were quite a few stops along the way!
The first of said stops was in Lima, the capital of Peru and one of the largest cities in all of South America. The city itself was unlike any we have visited thus far in terms of both size and nature. It is a city of extremes and in the the short time we spent there we were exposed to modern urbanization and rich cultural tradition, extreme wealth and rampant poverty, as well as both the very familiar and the inherently strange.
As soon as we dropped off our bags, many of us decided to visit the catacombs of the San Franciscan Friary in the heart of the historical district
The next day we boarded a bus destined for Mancora, a town situated in the beautiful northern beaches of Peru. The ride was a twenty hour haul up the coast, made nice by the luxury bus we decided to splurge on. Although the ride sounded awfully intimidating beforehand, many of us used the time to begin our vacation a little bit early, catching up on some sleep, reading, and watching movies (the bus attendants were nice enough to play several in English, as our group took up more than three quarters of the bus).By the time we arrived in Mancora we were already in full relaxation mode
Our first night we built a bonfire on the sand and were serenaded under the stars by Noah and Shawn. I think the old saying is true that Ļmusic is the universal language,Ļ because not long after the instruments were brought out, were we joined by the other members of the hostal. Soon we had Americans, Canadians, Germans, and Argentinians all singing around the fire. It was truly a sight to see (and hear)! This was also the night of the presidential election and everybody, no matter the nationality, was interested in the outcome. The few with wi-fi enabled devices kept us all updated on the latest news, and when the final decision was announced, those of us who were still awake celebrated Obamaīs victory with a couple of late night hamburgers.
Mancora passed all too fast, and before long we found ourselves on another bus, this time headed for Cuenca, our first stop in Ecuador and the beginning of the last leg of our three month journey through South America. We crossed the border with no problems and arrived in Cuenca late at night. Not to worry though, because the next day we had ample time for independent exploration of the old colonial town
First impressions of Ecuador had us realizing that there is something different about this country than the others we have visited thus far, although none of us could seem to place our finger on it. Perhaps it is a more modern culture with less of an Aymaran and Quechuan influence, or perhaps it is a tad bit newer or the area as whole cleaner. It is too early to tell for sure, but we are all excited to see and experience more of this new chapter of the trip.
Again, after having only spent two nights in Cuenca we boarded another bus to Baņos, a city known for its natural baths and outdoor adventure. With just a two night stay to enjoy one of Ecuadorīs main attractions, we decided to make the most of it. Donning our wetsuits and life jackets, we braved the whitewater rapids of the Rio Verde. We left with more than a few stories to tell. It is safe to say that this rafting adventure has definitely been one of the highlights of the trip thus far!
Feeling rested and relaxed after our mini vacation of sorts, we are now all eager to begin the next portion of our adventure -- the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest
- Tyler and John
P.S. The Youth International South America team would like to wish a happy birthday to Mrs. Judith Young! Happy birthday Judith!