Once in Cuenca I got a taxi to the hostel I had pre-booked the day before. Turns out despite the appearance of the place from the street the interior was really nice. Two courtyards, hammocks and Wi-Fi. My room was large but oddly shaped and for some reason I will never work out it had 6 plug sockets in a line halfway up one wall. The only downside were the shared bathrooms, the lights were motion sensor activated and when it was dark they really didn’t stay on long enough.
The city of Cuneca has a large historic centre and a sizable community of retired “septic tanks”. Well everywhere has a downside!
As I was walking along in the afternoon I had a sense of “deja vu”, just like I had in Riobamba. I have been here before! Come the evening I was bimbling along the main bar street feeling somewhat annoyed that every bar had the word lounge in its name! Just then I stumbled across an old skool bar selling artesian beers in very large glasses with ashtrays on the bar, my search was over....
On the 3rd day I went on a day trip to the Inca ruins of Ingapirca. The day was cold, sometimes wet but always windy. The ruins were impressive but my stubby little legs were cold! The following day it happened! For the 1st time in over a year I was wearing long pants, it took a while to get used to wearing full length jeans again.
After 5 nights it was time to move on, I took the easy option! From a nearby hostel I took a minivan to Vilcabamba and the valley of longevity. I was staying here:www.izhcayluma.com which was 2kms south of the village. For $25pn I had a en-suite room with private patio and hammock. The views were amazing!
I spent 7 nights there and I had such a good time. The food was great and the bar stayed opened very late. The other guests were up for a laugh and good times were had....However nothing lasts forever and on a Monday I left “Eden” behind and got on a bus to the nearby town of Loja.
Arriving at Loja around midday I couldn't be arsed to go any further (my hangover wasn't helping) so I got a room in a hotel across the road from the bus station.
The next day I caught the 9am bus to the city of Machala near the pacific coast. With over 2500m of elevation to lose it was downhill all the way. The mountain views were beautiful and as we descended through the clouds the mountains receded and banana plantations were the only views to be had.
Machala is a nice enough town and for $20 I got a room in the Hostal Madrid just off the main square. Yep, it had cable tv, Wi-Fi and best of all Air-con!!! I haven't had that since Panama city...I wasn't in the mountains any more! The air was thick and muggy and the smells seemed to linger around for longer.
I hanged out there for 2 nights and then got on a bus to the border town of Huaquillas. I spent my last night in Ecuador here. I didn't get much sleep as the noise from the fan and the street kept me awake past 1am.
At 06:30 I woke up, grabbed a coffee and then walked across the bridge and into Peru.