We only spent one night in Chiclayo, just outside of it in a town called Lambayeque with a girl and her massive family. She lived in a rougher part, not like the shanty towns or anything, but like no propper roads, corregated iron roof type thing. One of the good things about doing couch surfing was getting to spend time with local Peruvian people that are outside Ciudad. It sounds stupid but because we live and work in such a heavily Catholic place, where all the people are reserved, moral, and without sounding mean, not that fun, I just thought that was how all Peruvian people are. Then when we left Ciudad we realised it's just like any other place, where there are all different types of people. Not everyone outside Ciudads extremely Catholic, most people are, but just like go to church on a Sunday types not like twice daily church types.
And then to Mancora! We managed to organise it so all the PT girls were together for new year and it was absoloutely epic. Lovely to all be together and talk about our projects, the good things and bad things we've experienced so far this year. Also just to generally have a good time without having to be a responsible example was a much needed break! Loki also introduced me to the best hangover cure - a maracuya slushy and a jump in the pool. You wouldn't think it, but it saved some of us at our lowest moments. We said our goodbyes to some of the vols and headed up to Montanita in Ecuador with Trujillo and Pucallpa girls. I loved Montanita, it had loads more character than Mancora, which was mostly just gringos. It was like a hippyish surfer town with loads of tiki buildings and hammocks. Also it had cocktail street! At night the locals set up stalls all down the sides of the road and made cocktails with fresh fruit and blasted music out. On one of the nights a band set up camp as well, and it just meant that everyone was just talking and dancing in the street. Not forgetting the epic Montañita tacos either. Loved it.
Next was Quito, the capital of Ecuador. All the bus rides round Ecuador and Peru are pretty, but the journey from Guyaquill to Quito was absoloutely stunning. We only spent a couple of days there, but it was such a beautiful city. It's massive, but surrounded by tall forresty mountains so it kind of felt like a small town at the same time. We had a wander round the Old Town which was really pretty and colonial, and went into some of the churches, one of them decorated almost completely in gold. And we made the journey just outside to stand on the equator! Although apparently it isn´t technically the equator, but I was happy either way.
After Quito we headed down to Baños, south of Quito. Its a tiny little pueblo stuck in a valley just on the edge of the rainforest so surrounded by lots of green and waterfalls. Of the whole trip, I think Baños was my favourite place! First full day we had there we hired some bikes and set off on the Avenida de Las Cascadas with Wendy and Frances. Managed to cycle for 20 km without dying so was pretty impressed with that. Had a little hiccup in the beginning when we made a wrong turn and were climbing up an effectively verticle hill wondering why we´d bothered with the whole thing, but a nice old Lorry driver told us where we´d gone wrong and after that it was pretty flat. I´m not that into biking but it was definately worth the effort to go. You´re cycling towards the jungle on the way to Puyo, so the further you go, the more rural and green it gets and all along the way there´s loads of waterfalls. We had a stop off at one of them for our picnic and hopped on the cable car to get a closer look. Lovely day!
We were pretty sure four of the other PT girls were in Baños at the same time, but couldn´t get an exact location on them. Managed to stumble upon them a few days in and it turns out they´d been living it up with Jungle Jim and Mogli in the selva for three days! So we dragged Harriet along for some white water rafting the next day and almost drowned her, oops. We spent the nights going out down the strip of clubs they had, which much to our shock all closed at 2am. The police would drive round after that trying to round up troops into their beds, which was always pretty funny. Evie and Frances managed to pluck up the balls to do a bridge jump - I didn´t. But, had my first ever driving experience in a buggy, in Ecuador, on windy mountain roads with lots of lorrys and trucks. Shat myself for the first fifteen minutes, but once I got into it I loved it.
There´s just something about travelling and the freedom of it, that you can go where you want and do what you want that I´ve well and truely fallen in love with. Can´t wait for more!