So the crossing into Ecuador wasn’t exactly fun. We got an old, un air conditioned bus without a bathroom and little leg room for the nine-hour bus ride. And the border crossing happened at midnight. And there weren’t really bathrooms at the border crossing, so most people just walked behind the customs building and took care of business there. We used the company Transportes Loja because we wanted to avoid the infamous Tumbes crossing by traveling from Piura, Peru to Loja, Ecuador. I suppose it was worth it, but it was very inconvenient and uncomfortable.
We arrived in Loja at 6:30 am and hadn’t booked a hostel, so we just went to the nearest hotel we found and got one night for 34 USD. While that was a little pricey, we thought it was worth it because we checked in so early in the day. After crashing for a few hours, we got up again to explore the city and plan our next moves.
Settled in a valley between hills in the southern part of the country, Loja has a strong musical culture. We saw stages and advertisements for upcoming events all over town. Founded in 1548 by a Spanish general, it is one of the oldest cities in Ecuador, and was an important stop on the trail from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon Basin for hundreds of years.
Probably their most interesting sites are the numerous and beautiful old churches and plazas and the city hall, which is pictured above. The castle-looking place is the metaphoric gate of the city and where city hall is, along with a small art museum displaying local artists’ work. It is designed to commemorate the old city walls from the 16th century.
We wandered several miles around the city, but it was Sunday so most things were closed. We did, however, enjoy the views. I returned to the train station and surveyed the situation. We wanted to get to the coast, and had to learn how. Guayaquil is one of the largest cities in Ecuador and near the coast, so we knew we would have to pass through there. It is around 10 USD or eight hours from where we were, so we decided to split the trip up, stopping midway in Cuenca for lunch.
The next day we did that: paid six USD for a bus to Cuenca, almost four hours due north of us, and stopped there for lunch and to see the historic park.
Although we only stayed about two hours, we were impressed with the city center architecture and gardening. I personally was interested in the cabbage-like flowers they had. Does anyone know what these are?
We then hopped on another bus for eight USD apiece to get to Guayaquil, a city known for its crime but wonderful bus/plane terminals, and four hours due west of us. It took a little longer than four hours, but we finally made it. By then it was 10 pm, I felt sick, but we had several more hours north along to coast to get to our destination. We decided to go two more hours, away from the expensive city, and find a cheap hotel in one of the small towns. It turned out to be a little harder than I thought, but we survived the night and eventually made it to Sarah Ann’s beach paradise the next day.