83 days to date, according to our camera's smarty display. We spent nearly two and a half months in Ecuador, traveling in and out of Quito, the capital hub. We bused to the North living with the Pijal family in the town of their namesake near Otovalo; and to the near-West visiting Mindo, a cloud forest city; to the near-South to Banos, and eventually to the coast to see the "Poor Man's Galapogos"; further South to Cuenca and finally the furthest South to Vilcabamba very near the border with Peru.
Crossing that border was a breeze, totally contrary to the FUD we'd been fed, and actually in line with the scattering of good advice. We took the overnight route out of Loja, passed the Ecuador check point at 4AM with our exit stamps good to return for 20 more days of our 90 limit, crossed a bridge on foot and got stamped and issued a migracion card for Peru. We reboarded the bus and woke up, never really sleeping, in Piura where we bought plane tickets to skip us to Lima and then Cusco. Our goal to make haste through Peru to Cusco was decided in Vilcabamba, for better or worse. Frankly, after over two months of Ecuador's buses, generally 4-7 hour rides, and sometimes two consecutive 8 or 10 hour marathons, we'd had enough of bus rides for now. So, yes, we skipped quite a few sights and cities; missed the greatest ceviche in the world in Piura; couldn't hang with new friends in Lima; flew over the Cordillera Blanca where 'Touching the Void' was filmed; and didn't brave the countries worst land route from Lima to Cusco. There will be crossroads and decisions made. What we wanted was to immediately settle down in Peru's oldest city and focus on Spanish classes and start living in their streets.
And that's where we are now, living in Cusco, what used to be the Incan capital before the Spaniards came and changed fate. We just settled a portion of our own fate with a contract for three months in an apartment. Settled in Spanish no less. And we're into our second week of individual Spanish classes. Daily we walk through stone streets and climb stone stairs bordered by a variety of historic stone walls which trace ancient times much the same as the Grand Canyon's varying rock patterns. Incan stone rubs shoulders with Spanish, and both are mingled with a variety of masonry repair. Today I saw a corner of a building whose walls were under repair, and those walls were over a meter thick (3 feet).
Our lives for the last 83 days (and I imagine for the next 269) are generally challenging, often unexpected, but it's all constantly fascinating and just totally cool. Doug asked me today, on Skype, if things are going as planned. Yeah, we're entering the second quarter and this is really what we signed up for.