It’s been a pretty beautiful day in Cuenca; the planned trip to Cajas national park went ahead and was pretty much as cool as expected (lots more pictures of scenery that won’t do justice to the scenery itself) and I went with a nice Israeli woman from the hostel (who spoke better Spanish than me, useful). We hiked around a supposedly 4-hour route in just over 2 hours and it was beautiful but of course it rained towards the end which was a bit of a bummer. It was good training for the Inca Trail I feel (first time I’ve actually noticed the effect of the altitude) and generally very fun – Hadas kept rightly commenting that it felt a bit like we were walking to Mordor, especially in the foresty bit. Naturally I tripped about a gajillion times and had a slight mishap involving misjudging a patch of mud – one leg slid in up to the knee – but overall pretty glad to get to properly test out the hiking boots, which are very waterproof (excellent news).

Once we got back we chilled out for a bit and changed out of wet dirty clothes (I really need to find a place to do laundry) and then I was just looking into the rest of my trip and getting generally a bit stressed out about having to make decisions, so I went for a walk and took some pictures of the flower market to calm myself down a bit. Very successful.

So basically a couple of things may change about my trip – not major things, but the place I was going to volunteer at in Lobitos in Peru has no space except just to stay in a dorm (as a normal paying customer) so I’m going to stay there a few days less than planned and maybe go to Chachapoyas or Chiclayo on the way to Trujillo. I’ve also heard of a better route to get there from Cuenca so I might not go to Loja and spend another day here because the people in this hostel are cool (and made an incredible “eggplant” aka aubergine and pasta dinner which obviously has swayed me somewhat).

Also am debating whether or not I will go to Chile in the end – seeing as how I would largely be going just for the extra passport stamp, it’s reportedly a lot more expensive, and it would be a long long journey from Cusco. We’ll see. But I’m a lot more keen to see Bolivia and its a very appealing prospect to have two weeks to get from Cusco to La Paz rather than just the one to get there from Arica.

Just keeping you updated on my general musings; the wonderful thing (one of the wonderful things) about being here is that you meet all these people who have been to all these places, done your route already or are doing it the opposite way round, which is just so much more helpful than the evil Internet will ever be.

 7 weeks is definitely not long enough, that much is clear, and a week and a half into my trip I already know that I will be coming back some day. There is so much to see and so many people to meet and probably no amount of time could cover it properly – though a couple of extra months would certainly help. It’s all good though; I’m having a great time and learning a lot and feeling very very privileged to be here (and also thanking God that I actually plucked up the courage to book the flight and do this trip), but still looking forward to getting home and going to work in France. Todo es bueno.