Zumba Travel Blog› entry 36 of 65 › view all entries
We arrived to Loja to relax and organize ourselves before our dash towards Brazil through the Amazon. Loja is a nice city, altough its national park, situated some 20 kilometers south is supposed to be the pearl of the area. It is too bad that we didn't had time to stop by, but we have to make up for some lost time. Instead we went to one of the many parks in the city, walked a fair amount, and tried to be outside as much as possible. At midnight we grabbed a bus to Zumba, the first of 6 transportations in this stretch.
We enjoyed a sleepless night on the bus to Zumba due to the driver's loud samba music. We are pretty sure he had he radio loud to stay awake, which is better than going over a cliff. We were joined on the bus by a huge matress which sat in the aisle towards the back of the bus. In retrospective we should have put it over the seats and passed out on it, but it didn't occur to us at the time. At around 5am, children going to school started boarding the bus, and once more we became "The Travelling Tourists Freak Show". Em was semi-conscious but mostly passed out when she felt a little hand press on her arm. She decided to ignore it and then felt the little hand press again, but harder. She opened one eye and a little girl, about 7 or 8, enthusiasticaly exclaimed "buenos dias!". Em nodded, still too tired to speak, and noticed four little eyes curiously peering at her from the two seats accross the aisle. Sleepy Em was probably the most interesting (or freaky) thing they'd seen in weeks.
It is important to note that on this route there are very few tourists so it is kind of expected. For instance when we stopped at a police check we were the only ones on a completely full bus who had to get out to get our passports checked. Freak show!
The next stretch was from Zumba to the border at La Balsa, which was completed on a ranchera. A ranchera is an open sided bus. Think a school bus without sides, and with church benches bolted to the floor instead of regular seats. The ride was beautiful as we increasinlgy went into the humid heat of the jungle. The highlight was 3 horses that got in front of the bus and were scared by it so starting running away from it. Only problem is that the direction they ran away from us was exactly the way we were going, so we followed these galloping horses for a good 3 to 5 minutes around curves, straightaways, once in a while stepping on the brakes to make sure we didn't run them over. Eventually there was a fork, and they went the other way. An hour later or so we arrived to the border where another annoying immigration man did his best to piss us off. We had to help him read a simple document and after some aggravation was required then we were off to Peru, i.e. the other 3 houses across the river.
In other words at this crossing there was nothing, including immigration officers or police, so it took us 10 minutes to find somebody to give us the entry stamps into Peru. With that over with we went from La Balsa to San Ignacio. An overloaded statio wagon provided as transportation. Right when we got to San Ignacio, we found another station wagon to take us to Jaen. This wagon wasn´t overloaded until the very end of the ride so this was the most pleasant we´d had of the four rides in less than 24 hours. Once again we realized that foreigners must not travel around these parts very often when an old man saw us stepping out of the station wagon and excitedly cried "gringos!". Many people were very curious about us and wanted to talk to us, help us, or sell us something. We bought tickets for our second overnight in a row and went and did the usual, strolling, eating, and internet. The overnight bus was shady to say the least, including three poles that went from the floor to the roof (relics of a city bus? holding the roof in place? rented for and by strippers? who knows...) but we were so tired that we wrapped our bags around our legs and fell asleep for most of the ride.