Pan American highway


With another 39 hour bus journey to look forward to, I was delighted to finally get over the food poisoning that left me hugging a dirty toilet for the best part of the weekend.

Having spent the past 2 months zigzagging through the Andes, it felt like a real luxury to be on a flat straight coast line road where the nightly temperature doesn’t feel sub-zero as you attempt to sleep…usually unsuccessfully!

Those of you who have been following our blog will know from previous long haul journeys, something was bound to go wrong for us; this time it was the return of filthy Argentinian hippies that were the main source of our discomfort.

As usual we went for the cheapest company but thought we would spoil ourselves to what they called “Royal Class” being lucky enough to grab seats 1&2. Normally seats 1&2 on the top decks of busses tend to have the most leg room; an important requirement for my ergonomically challenged friend. However this bus was unlike any other we had been on before; the first two rows were replaced by a ‘communal area’ with our seats being the first row behind it.

Whilst space wasn’t an issue the animals that decided to occupy the area for the entire journey to Mancora from Lima were. There are many examples I could give to explain their complete disregard for others but I will resist the rant…let’s just say this time the bongo box was replaced with a flute!

This particular stretch of the Pan American highway (which connects the whole of the Americas, beginning in Seattle/USA and ending in Southern Patagonia/SA) provides some stunning scenery as it cuts through large sand dunes that plummet directly into the Pacific.

Given that we have been craving some more beach time since leaving Brazil we couldn’t resist a stop in Mancora which the Lonely Planet describes as,

” the place to see and be seen along the Peruvian coast…to rub shoulders with the frothy cream of the Peruvian jet set”

After traveling for so long we have learnt not to always trust what this supposed Bible says, preferring to make our own minds up after hearing about places from other travellers. The party loving travellers have all agreed with the Lonely Planet so we were prepared not to like the place but thought we should check it out first before completely driving through.

We literally stayed for a couple of hours to have a swim whilst waiting for our next bus across the border to Ecuador, which I think says it all really.

In hindsight we should have stopped off at a pop up beach town called Asia aka Km97. It is basically a series of white wash summer houses along private stretches of white beach where the elite of Lima come to party the weekend away with DJs setting up along the beach, with no restraint on how long or how loud they can play their tunes. Interestingly the entire town is literally only there for a couple of months of the year (Jan-Mar) giving it a true pop up status!

The border crossing into Ecuador was interesting in that there wasn’t really a border! Instead there is a pretty hectic town which I never quite figured out what country it belonged to? The whole experience was quite hectic and involved erratic back and forths between immigration offices and several squashed cab journeys – all under the patronage of a stressed Peruvian immigration support officer who seemed to be on a strict time limit! 1.5 hours later and we were on our final overnight leg to Quito.

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