We awoke fairly early and have to full day to enjoy the sun, pool and the pool – hooray! We need to get our fill as tomorrow we will spend a full day on the bus travelling to Guayaquil.
We followed our routine, had breakfast and then directly to the pool. I checked on keeping our room until the bus departure at 10:00pm and they were very accommodating – as long as we paid half price for the room ha ha. We decided it was well worth it as otherwise we would have to check out at 12 noon and hang about until Señor Ramos come to take us to the Cruz del Sur Bus Station.
The day went by quickly and we both had a beautiful bronze glow by the end of the day. Following dinner (Fero had an incredible pesto pasta and I had camerones (large shrimp) in a delightful garlic sauce) we went back up to the room and relaxed until departure time.
Señor Ramos was very punctual and we arrived at the Cruz del Sur station well in advance. No worries though as the people watching was interesting as always.
Shortly after midnight, finally, our bus arrived and we boarded into the lower VIP level (la-ti-da) with its plush leather seats that reclined to 160 degrees. On the seats were monogrammed pillows and blankets, and in front of us were individual video screens. Now this is the way to travel – Greyhound could learn a few lessons here!
We immediately fell asleep in our cosy seats wrapped with the warm blanket and the gentle rocking of the bus.
Before we knew it, it was 7:00am and the sun was up. Around 8:00am the bus purser served us breakfast which, honestly, was pretty basic. The scenery was very repetitive, sand, desert, and more sand, oh and bits of ocean. We stopped in Mancora at 10:00am which is our last beach destination a week from now. It is a surfing beach as well and looks a little more alive than Huanchaco. Shortly after we stopped at an immigration stop (still in Peru) where we had to show our identification. We are still 4 hours from the Ecuador border so this seemed a strange place to check our ID.
Closer to Tumbes and the Ecuadorian border, the beach towns became increasingly more & more interesting and Tumbes itself was a very nice place. Here they loaded a lunch of diced chicken with rice in a yummy sauce – much more palatable than breakfast. Back on the Panamericana Highway we arrived at the Peru/Ecuador border and customs and immigration.
We disembarked and stood in the never ending line up – first to exit Peru and then another line up to enter Ecuador. Everywhere were signs indicating they were making the immigration process modern and easier. I say they still have a long way to go. We were the first of 3 buses and it took us two hours, yes two, to complete this painful process. There were only two agents for exiting Peru and two agents to enter Ecuador. The 17 hour bus ride was less taxing than the two hours at the border in 30C heat! The need some with organizational skills to help them streamline!
At 4:00pm we were finally on our way and had arrived in Ecuador. We were absolutely amazed as within 25km the terrain changed drastically from dry arid desert with only sand for miles, to lush tropical banana plantations, trees and green grass on the left and mountains on the right. It was like someone had drawn a line and south of the line was dry and arid and north was green and lush.
Instantly we felt a stronger connection and interest in Ecuador. The feeling was more pride form their country. The countryside was clean (no garbage strewn everywhere as in Peru) and even dirt food stalls looked neat and tidy! It just had a more organized and prideful look to it.
It was dark when we arrived at the Guayaquil Terrestre Terminal (Bus Station) and not a favourite time to arrive in a new city. I contacted our hotel, the Hotel Continental to advise them of our arrival and was told our transfer was enroute. I love this service. Within a minute is spotted a fellow in uniform for the hotel carrying a sign with my name on it. It was Carlos from the hotel and we were very happy to see him. The best way to go is to arrange a transfer service with the hotel to pick you up from the airport, bus or train station – it may cost a wee bit more, but definitely the safest option!
Our backpacks collected we jumped into a taxi with Carlos and arrived at the very pleasant Hotel Continental – I would highly recommend it. Close to the Malecon, across the street from the main Cathedral, nice large rooms and a full buffet breakfast included – what more could one ask for.
We checked in, showered and went directly to the lounge for a wine and beer and then to the 24 hour cafe for ceviche and a local dish. Now time for some shut eye. Quite the two days!