Back in the Andes after the beach break
Quito welcomed us with rain and cold after our week break in the nice Pacific weather of Galapagos. Flights to Lima were still too expensive, and I wanted to visit Cuenca, so in the end Susanne accepted a compromise and rather than continue cycling, we would again catch a bus to Cuenca.
I had done some research and the easiest way to go there would be the Panamericana, which means heavy traffic on main roads. All other alternatives were either dirt tracks or tiny roads with crazy climbs. So bus would have to be. Most buses run at night, to avoid traffic and so users can save a hotel night. But for safety reasons, mostly of landslides since we are still in rainy season, Susanne preferred a daily option.
To go to the bus station we used an app called “inDrive” that the guys in the hotel recommended. You basically make a price offer on how much you want to pay, and drivers will accept or make you a contra-offer. But the best is that you can specify what kind of vehicle you are looking for, in our case a double-cabin pick up, since we needed to transport our luggage and bikes, and also ourselves. What was very easy in the countryside, when all taxis are pick-ups, in the big cities is nearly impossible as taxis are all the conventional car type.
The bus station in Quito, as was the case with the airport, is very modern and nice. We picked the 11:30 bus, and off we went to Cuenca in a nice and comfortable bus. As usual, the most annoying part is bargaining with the luggage guys on how much they can charge to carry our bikes, as there is no official price.
As usual, the trip took longer than planned, due to the usual traffic leaving Quito, routinary police controls, and road works, so we arrived in the dark, which is what we wanted to avoid. We already had a hotel booked nearby, but again we had trouble finding a suitable taxi. Luckily, inDrive helped again to find one.
We really liked Cuenca. As Quito, the old city is also World Heritage by the Unesco, but here everything is more approachable, the city is smaller and feels more European, with plenty of cafes, shops, and even a new tram going through the city.
We also visited the Pumapungo museum and ruins, where an Inca city used to be. We were lucky there was at the time a dance contest we could see directly from the museum. The city has numerous parks, playgrounds and squares, so the kids had chances to run after the pidgeons or play with the local children.
Our Hotel del Norte was very well situated, close to the bus station, the central market, and the historic center, so we didn’t use the bikes at all. Only Thomas insisted in taking the tram so we did a couple of loops for his pleasure.
After that, it came the dilemma on how to continue south. There are three terrestrial borders with Peru, but two are closed, the one towards the Amazon and Jaen, and the one towards the mountains in Macará, all blamed on Covid, although of course the people keep crossing, just using the many illegal paths through forests and mountains. But that will be for the next post.