The next day early morning flight to Lima was chaotic as someone had omitted to realise that will a flight cancelled the previous day twice as many people would be showing up for check-in. By this stage some camaraderie had formed among the ‘old’ flight passengers with a bit of chat and sharing of taxis into the city.
I didn’t know much about Lima except for that is was once the main centre of Spanish power and the last place to be liberated from them. Lima for the tourist is divided between the old city in the north and the beachside and upscale neighbourhood of Miraflores in the south.
The old historic centre and see the old Spanish colonial buildings along with the changing of the guard at midday. After there were more churches and monasteries – this time Jesuit (for a change!).
Luckily I met a local photographer who showed me around the local neighbourhood beach area of Miraflores where my hostel was. He also managed to sign me into his fancy gym where the well heeled and well fit of Lima came in the evenings to work out to nightclub level music and a DJ!
This was needed as I was facing into a marathon 26 hour bus journey north to Ecuador. As mentioned previously South American buses are well equipped but this Cruz Del Sur bus even had an entertainment system in the back of each seat and there were whispers of wifi service but that never seemed to materialise.
Heading north from Lima one travels by road with enormous sand dunes rolling down to the sea and overnight to the border to clock up the 11th country of the trip so far. I was joined on the bus by a French lighting director, Laurent, from Paris who was spending a month in Ecuador searching for a plot to build a holiday house – a nice holiday reason if there ever was one!
Arriving into Guayaquil (Ecuadors second city after Quito and the commercial capital) on the evening of New Years Eve.
We saw endless papier mache puppets. The significance of these became clear later in the night when they were ceremoniously burned in the street. Apparently in a modern form of scape-goating the bad happenings of the last year are supposed to be loaded up on the puppets and burning leaves them in the old year where they belong.
Suitably relieved from 2015 the next day myself and Laurent had a look around – in truth only the pharmacy and the church was open but we headed up to a hill north of the city with quaint multi-coloured houses and a lighthouse.
What Guayaquil is famous for is a conference between the Latin American liberators of Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin to discuss the future of liberated South America. In one of those happy co-incidences on the road I was listening to an audiobook episode about this I stumbled upon the monument commemorating the occasion.
All there was left was to visit Iguana Square as a small appetiser of my next destination and a blockbuster start to 2016 – The Galapagos!