A Travellerspoint blog

scary bus journey in the Andes

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Monday 28th October

Ripped off over a cup of coffee. Change last sucres back into dollars.

Catch 1pm bus to Huaquiles the border town for Peru. Its a small bus and a god awful road. ┬▒Dramatic descent down an enormous valley, tarmac surface is intermittent, mostly dirt road. Pass several abandoned buses, one still had passengers inside. drive over a couple of landslides that had been roughly levelled. Several men with wheel barrows face the impossible task of mending the road. Bridges without barriers, just logs and dirt infill only wide enough for the bus. Simple wooden crosses mark the edge of the road and presumably where some vehicle left the road forever. Yawning chasms and no guard rails. On one cross I read Rodrigo Rodriguez 25 mai 1982 hand written in felt tip. About half way down the surly looking driver's mate does a whip round. I'd hoped he would toss the money into the chasm, slaughter a chicken and sprinkle the bus with blood. But no a tawdry catholic roadside shrine, a garish grotto with plastic flowers and an iron collection box gets our money and our prayers. He sprinkled some grotto water on the tyres. My prayer was that the money would be spent on some tarmac and not line a Padre's pockets.

Suddenly we were on the alluvial plain and after miles and miles of banana plantations we pulled into Huaquiles the dingy border town. Early in the evening and the town seems full of whores and hustlers working the peruvian shoppers. Grubby little Hostal Internationale 100 S. Spend last Sucres on a bowl of soup.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:26 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

overnight to Cuenca

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Sunday 27th October 1985

Aroused from fitfull sleep by the chilly light of dawn throwing its horizontal light across the dry brown mountains scattered with tiny dry brown adobe huts sheltering dry brown people with their dry brown hats and blankets etc.

Cuenca is picturesque, higgledy piggledy multi storey houses with ancient balconies at odd angles lining a rocky river. Monumental colonial cathedral faces beautiful square of flowering trees and climbing roses.
El Inca hostal 150 S hot shower but noisy. Breakfast in the plaza major. Two eggs came poached in a glass tumbler, took me a while to realise what they were.

Find some travelling entertainment in a urinous car park. Come and see Tassia el Fakir Yogya and el Urna de Serpientes. It is so cold the snakes must be torpid and as for Tassia, you wouldn't be able to tell her tits from her goose bumps. Didn't go in.

Posted by 1985 trip 12:15 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

market day in Quito

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Saturday 26th October 1985

Visit the Museum of Prehistory through an unmarked side door of a bank. Not many visitors. Usual ceramics, plethora of tribes with different pottery styles. Good gold artefacts. Hence the bank perhaps.

Market day and lots of locals in town in blankets and hats sitting surrounded by their goods. Very little begging, occasional feint touch on ones arm, and a toothless smile. They seem a very gentle people, the conquistadors must have been a shock. Many of the streets are packed with these vendors. One sits in front of a whole roasting pig.

Decide to go the Cuanaca tonight. John and Alan have already left for Banos. I want to hurry down to southern Peru. Take some photos as it is a lovely sunny day. The air is crisp and dry, except when the old busses pass, they seem to run on two stroke. Have a coffee and all the waitresses try to find the time for a chat.

After a time wasting major confusion on the town buses eventually locate the coach station and get the all-nighter to Cuenca.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:10 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)


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Friday 25th October 1985


Explored town with the likely lads. Alan has a good collection of bank notes. He gets them plasticised.

It is chilly at night, and the hills or the caffeine gives me palpitations. Quito sits in a valley between the two main Andean ranges, so the scenery is good.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:06 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

hangover at altitude

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Thursday 24th october 1985

Recovering from last night at 9350 feet. Some headache.

Old town Quito is full of narrow streets, the houses are painted white, thick walled and with terracotta roofs, colonial style. The Plaza Indendencia is very attractive. met John and alan in the evening, a pair of likely lads form Liverpool. They had been working in the luxury hotel trade in London'd west end. It was illuminating to hear all their stories about the cons and fiddles the American and Middle Eastern visitors suffered at their hands. It just takes a bit of nerve apparently. Perhaps they were on the run.

Posted by 1985 trip 11:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Riots in Quito 1985

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Wednesday 23rd October 1985

Arrive in Quito to find a riot in full swing. Groups of youths are taunting the sinister looking riot police with piercing whistles, there is the distinct bite of CS gas in the air. I initially thought the slight choking feeling was the altitude until I spotted empty CS gas canisters in the gutter.

Checked into Hotel Gran Casino (aka the grand gringo) for 150 Sucres a night. Got very drunk sharing three bottles of the local fire water with Marcel, Shirley and Jessica. marcel is a Brazilian architect who was working for a while in Managua. Nicaragua is dirt cheap it seems, hard work spending 2$ a day. People find the country interesting and the Sandinista authorities friendly, firm but friendly. They may well rip all the film out of your camera, but they will be pleasant about it. Marcel was also in Tikal when it was captured for a day by the Guatemalan Guerrillas. They were very friendly too. The army didn't counter attack because of the 20 foreign tourists staying there. It was a PR job for the guerrillas to show some westerners that they weren't animals and to give the government an impression of how easy it would be to stop the tourist cash flow. At the end of the day they just disappeared into the jungle again.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:42 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

leave Costa Rica for Columbia

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Tuesday 22nd October 1985

Fly to Bogota El Dorado airport via San Andres. Too nervous to leave the Hotel Presidente. There is an en suite with a bath. Use up all Elaine's bath balls.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:32 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

joys of Post Restante

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Monday 21st October 1985

Visit the post office and find five fabulous letter in poste restante. Happy boy. Elaine has sent me some Body Shop bath bombs, they have leaked quite a bit so all my letters are very fragrant. Haven't seen a bath in months. She is in Ethiopia now.

Confirm flight, do washing, change money, pay departure tax. Bump into Simon from Tikal, he was captured by guerrillas.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:26 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

rush back to San Jose

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Sunday 20th October 1985

Get the barge back to Moin, bus to Limone and last bus last seat out of Limone to san Jose and return to Tika Linda's. Someone nicked my umbrella.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:21 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

the beach at night

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Saturday 19th October 2012

Take a dugout canoe 3 miles up the wide river to its opening with the sea with Tom. Takes us 4 hours there and back. Simple thatched houses of the coconut farmers along the way, and small looking Tortuguerro lodge.
My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

My trusty backpack, dug out canoe and T shirt I dyed in Java several months back.

Search for hatching turtles at dawn. Find one hatched nest with a hundred scampering trails to the sea, just missed them. They will swim for 6 days to reach the Saragossa sea and hide in the sea weed. Fresh coconut bread later, baked in a dutch oven. She lit a fire below a big metal cauldron and another one on the lid. The result was delicious.

Leave the others to their beer and chess and walk for an hour up the dark beach. Solitude, wind waves and inky dark the moon hidden by thick cloud. On the way back a turtle has just arrived and I sit with her for the next hour and half, right through a thunder storm. She digs as I sit beside her watching the almost mechanical motion and rhythm of her back flippers, listening to her heavy breathing. Its a slow struggle digging the nest, she seems on autopilot, faraway look in her milky tear filled eyes. The big crater is made by flinging sand backwards with all four flippers. The nest pit at the base of the crater is dug by the back flippers formed into scoops. She stretches deep down by rocking her shell backwards for extra depth bring up a scoop, of sand then resting for a few seconds before scooping with the other flipper. When she can scoop no more she coyly crosses her back flippers behind her and starts to lay the pingpong ball sized eggs with a gentle rocking action. When finished she kneads the sand back over the egg pit with a side to side action rubbing her rear end across the warm damp sand. Finally there is a great celebratory fling about of sand with all four flippers to disguise the exact location of the egg pit and she starts the laborious haul back the the sea. They will hatch in five weeks and the sex ratio varies with the temperature of the nest.

The experience was very moving, especially when she disappeared into the dark waves, her labours over. The earth feels eons old.

Posted by 1985 trip 10:02 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

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