Rio Bamba Equador to Piura Peru. 9,990 miles
On leaving the hotel and about to cycle the next bit of road, we were warned that several cyclists had been robbed at gunpoint on our route. We took a bus to a town called Chunchi. Stayed in the only, pretty rough, place in town. The ride out was extremely hard work. At altitude (10,000ft) all slopes seem steep. After a grueling 40 miles, at Tambo we met a local couple in a cafe. They had a pick-up truck and said they were going to Cuenca, which was another days ride for us. Would we like a lift they said? We set off, our bikes in the back, over another 12,000ft pass in dense mist and rain. Glad we did not ride it!
Cuenca is a fairly large town with not a lot of interest for us.
Change of plan. Instead of another two days over mountain passes, we decided, as we were not as fit as we should be due to our break in England, to go down to the coast. At Santa Isabella, we turned off at a junction to the town to look for a hotel. After a 500ft climb, we were told that the only hotel was back at the junction! Not a bad room. Had a fantastic view over a valley with the Andes behind, but the sink in the room was lying on the floor in about three pieces. Never mind, they said, we will fix it. David, helped by a local plumber fixed the new sink in about half an hour.
Outside by the road, two locals stopped a bus, climbed on top with an electric cable in hand, and fixed two clips to an overhead supply line. They then started to weld iron-work by the road.
Followed a river down the mountains through spectacular scenery all the way to Pasaje. Nothing of interest here but stayed the night in a rather basic room. Arenillas was a short ride through bannana plantations. The weather is surprisingly cool considering we are at sea level near the equator. About 20c (70f) and cloudy. Roads are reasonable with the expected potholes. Traffic is light.
Decided to stay in Arenillas and make a dash for the Peruvian border in the morning.
The border crossing (Sun.8th July) was easy with no charges. Changing money was different. The street money changers were up to all the tricks as at other borders. We found calculators that said 10x5 =40, and men saying one rate and giving another. When a policeman arrived and stood nearby, we got a fair rate - we think! (3.5 soles per dollar). About 5 soles/pound.
At the border we met a bus load of English doing a trip with Overland Travel. They were camping most of the way from Quito to Argentina, and travelling in their own bus.
Now we are out of the cool mountains, there is only one tap on the shower - cold. We do not expect hot water for a long while. (Unless we stay in an expensive hotel that is).
Internet is now costing 2 soles an hour (40p).
When we first arrived in Tumbes it was almost deserted. By the evening the plaza was filled with people in their Sunday best and we joined them in their parade around the square. There was music and stalls and crowds everywhere. Quite different from when we arrived.
A 60-mile trip along desert coast and we arrived at a small resort called Punta Sal. Not surprisingly, the group from Exodus were there camping. As we had stayed in some pretty rough places lately it was time to treat ourselves. Two nights in a beach front room with balcony at 20 dollars per night including breakfast which turned out to be two rolls, coffee and juice. Nice spot and view though.
70-miles across desert and scrub which was in fact a major Peruvian oilfield with pipelines in all directions and lots of nodding Jennys.
At Talara, a town overshadowed by the oil terminal Joan managed to get two takeaways of rice, chicken and chips for a total of 6 soles (1.20 pound sterling). As far as we can judge, there are about 5 soles to the pound.
More open desert and stiff headwind to Sullana. Good room for 30 soles, but still no hot water.
A very short day of 30 miles across more boring desert to Piura. Met a Peruvian cycle tourist going to Equador. We had a long chat in Spanish and neither of us understood much. However he gratefully accepted a free map of Equador which we no longer needed.
Looking at the map, the next 200 kilometers is across more open desert with no hint of any settlements on the way. Food is no problem as we can carry enough for a few days, but we need at least 10 litres of water a day. A decision is required.
Dave and Joan