Managed to get to Cuenca after a fashion – had to go to Riobamba and because the bus from Baños was late setting off, the next available one from Riobamba was at 1, almost two hours after I arrived. But hey ho, I love bus stations almost as much as I love buses (that started out as sarcasm but I’m kind of realising that its a bit true… Think I may be becoming an anorak) and at least it’s been pretty straightforward.
South America is reminding me more and more of India the more I see of it – crowded buses, vendors trying to sell you things by intoning a stream of unintelligible words (though in India it was more likely to be chaichaichaiiiii and here it’s empanadasempanadasempanadaaaas), dogs roaming the streets free to do as they like, and the little tiny shops and stalls that you just can’t imagine can make enough money to break even. It’s a good thing, definitely – all the things I liked about India are here pretty much, just in a slightly different guise.
The buses here have been pretty good thus far, easy to navigate and relatively comfortable. Today’s bus had a couple of hilarious guys trying to shift their products by launching into a long spiel about them just as we were setting off (obviously in Spanish so I was clueless, and quite confused), so that provided a good half hour’s entertainment. Other than that, looking out the window has been my main source of distraction – generally speaking all the routes I’ve travelled here have had the most beautiful views of the mountains and villages nestled below; unfortunately quite a lot of the time there’s been cloud cover so its more like looking into fog (and hoping that the driver knows the way really well). Have also spent a lot of time eating my way through half a bag of taffy (feeling mildly sick now) and attempting to learn Spanish through the magic of podcasts, along with having a little snooze alongside my elderly Ecuadorian bus neighbour.
Arrived almost in the dark again (doh) so taxied to the hostel without too much trouble (sticking as ever to the “halve the price they’re offering” rule) and had a delicious dinner of porridge (it was only 65 cents for a bag of oats in Baños, absolute bargain) before chilling with some people in the common room. Austin Powers was on telly, enough said.
Should be going to Cajas national park today, which is supposed to be very beautiful so quite looking forward to that. I’ll let you know how it goes!