CE: The Melting World of Piura

Southern EcuadorIts almost painful to walk the streets here during the day.  Perhaps thats why, as the hot afternoon sun beats down upon the city, only one sidewalk on either edge of the streets is ever populated with pedestrians, and even then the city appears almost desolate.  The meager daytime population melts lazily beneath that shady side of the street on only their most necessary of errands while the sun blisters everything else that it touches.  However, its not an unpleasant place, with its tree-lined boulevards and verdant squares, its just a sultry place.  And when the evening winds begin to sweep through the urban landscape and breath life back into its barren streets, the city comes back to life.

That was how it happened that as I walked here to the cafe at sunset this evening, the streets were miraculously teeming with life as if some secret quarantine had been lifted from the world.  So yes, basically what I’m trying to tell you is that this place is hot.  REALLY hot.  And although the daytime hours do indeed create quite a predicament as to accomplishing or seeing anything (since, of course, nothing in Latin America has air conditioning), it does make the luxuriantly cool mornings and ravishingly refreshing evenings that much more intoxicating.

Alright, so enough about the city, I guess you came here to find out what’s going on with me.  About a week ago I finally set off from Loja, in the South of Ecuador, with the intention of not stopping until I had reached the Peruvian border (and perhaps even a little further).  It was truly a torturous journey, turning from what many people had told me was “all downhill to the coastal deserts of Peru,” into endless green tropical mountains rising and falling (…and rising and falling… and rising and falling) inifinitely on the horizon – and of course, forcing me to cycle up and down each and every last one.

Downhill?However, it was also a magnificently picturesque and serene world, a land where the hand of modernization and globalization were truly completely devoid and there was only me and a narrow strip of road through the magnificent Andes for as far as the eye could see.

Well, the mountains didn’t last forever and, eventually, after one night camping in the thickest and most visually impenetrable blanket of fog which I’ve encountered in my entire journey (actually, I was sure that I was going to die for about an hour there, as I looked for a campsite anywhere before getting hit by one of the infrequent trucks that would appear out of the gloom only twenty feet behind me), and one night of camping in the humid lowlands between the mountains of Southern Ecuador (and gloriously bathing naked in the rushing brown rapids of a huge mountain river – to get fifty layers of sweat and sunscreen off my body before sleeping), I finally descended abruptly to the steamy border town of Macará.

I spent one night amidst the rice paddies of Macará, catching my breath, and the next morning set off for the nearby border crossing to Peru.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t remembered to try to smuggle anything across, as I certainly wouldn’t have been met with any suspicion or resistance whatsoever (then again, what the hell would you bother smuggling from Ecuador to Peru?), and within about fifteen minutes I had crossed the bridge into the new world (only took me that long because the Peruvian border official was so chatty).

After that it was truly smooth sailing.  Oh sweet Jesus, I can’t tell you how long I had yearned for that moment.  It was like I literally crossed the border and instantly the entire landscape changed.  No more craggy Andean peaks, no more endless mountain ridges along the horizon, just smoothly rolling provincial highway meandering through the countryside.  I just can’t explain to you, it changes everything.

Rice PaddiesLike a spark igniting a fire my speed came right back to me, after all of those months of doubting.  In only a short few hours I had reached Las Lomas, a small village with sand streets nestled into the rolling green hills around it – and which seemed to have forgotten that the world around it existed.  I had a blissful afternoon of deliciously cheap meals (I payed for soup, a full platter, and an icy cold panela with just one coin!), jubilantly flowing writing, and a couple of cold beers there among friendly people before settling in for the evening.

The following morning I set off bright and early, literally racing forward at a speed which I hadn’t accumulated since way back before arriving in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico (literally the beginning of the end).  It was a phenomenal day, filled with gorgeous spring-green scenery and friendly smiling faces.  Eventually, however, I did begin to draw nearer to Sullana, my original destination for the day, and the landscape soon began to transform into arid semi-desert scrubland.

Well, Sullana ended up looking like a real dump while I was passing it (literally trash and scary looking people all over the sides of the road), so I decided to skip that one and continue onwards to Piura, another forty or so kilometers South.  After Sullana the road began to look more and more like desert until I was finally arriving on the outskirts of Piura, and although I was parched and (of course) sunburnt by this point, I knew that I had made the right decision.

So here I am, in Piura – and yeah, its a little toasty – but wow, its not Ecuador.  Ok, ok, maybe I paint Ecuador red, but the truth is that it just wasn’t my cup of tea.  And upon arriving in Piura, although it isn’t exactly the most cosmopolitan place ever, its amazing the difference in culture and sophistication which I rediscovered after these almost two months.  Oh, and did I mention that the internet works here?

Road CornWhat else?  Hmm, so I’ve decided to add the little CE to the header of these periodic updates, which signifies Current Events (ok, perhaps a bit cheesy but let me know if you think of some better acronym), since as Rachel was reading the site last time she menetioned that it was a little confusing as to what was a flashback from my storytelling of where I’d left off and when I was just making a quick update.

Also, for those of you who aren’t familiar to Twitter, I’m going to introduce you to it, since a friend of mine recently mentioned something to me which made me think that perhaps it might be a fun idea to share it with you.  Alright, so I’ve already been using Tiwtter on the website for some time now – its the little news blurbs on the right nav bar that I put up from time to time.  What it does is allow me to update the site from my cell phone when I don’t have internet access… however, it can do a whole lot more than that.

For now, I think that the element that I’ll share with you is that if you are actually interested, you can get my Twitter updates sent to you mobile phone.  I’m going to try to explain this in terms that even my mother could understand (if thats actually possible), so stick with me and open a new window (actually, its really simple… I think).

1.  Go to http://www.twitter.com

2.  At the bottom of the screen click on the green button that says “Get Started — Join”

3.  After you’ve filled out all of your info and hit “Create Your Account,” it should take you to your profile screen

4.  In the top right-hand corner of the screen click on “Find People”

5.  On the next screen, directly under the words “Find People.  Follow Them,” click on the little tab that says “Find on Twitter”

6.  Type in the name “ipedaler” in the text field that comes up and hit enter

7.  When my little red picture shows up, click the word “Follow” to the right of my profile blurb

Bam!  That’s it, you’re following me.  If you have any problems with this, there’s a little help tab up at the top right hand corner of the screen – I’ll let you handle it from there (although I suppose you can email me if you’re stuck hehe)

Ok, hmm, I think thats it for catching up.  Alright, so what’s on the menu next?

Two Japs & a DonkeyWell, as ridiculous as this might sound, I’m stuck here until Monday because….. I’m waiting for my laundry.  But to be honest with you, I think its probably for the best, as I just got here yesterday and need a few days of rest before what is to come next.  On Monday morning (probably at four or five in the AM) I’ll be leaving Piura and heading Southward through the Sechura desert.  Ok, this time when I say desert, I mean REAL desert.  Apparently there’s nothing out there – and it goes on for a long time.  The distance is about 200 kilometers, and although, because of the heat, I was thinking of taking three days to do the journey, I’m thinking that perhaps two would be better for my state of sanity.

What I’ll probably try to do is cover at least 100 kilometers each day and tomorrow I’m going to see if I can’t find a super-cheap beach umbrella to take with me, as there apparently won’t be anything to use for shade out there in the endless sand and to be honest with you, my tent gets real real hot when the air starts boiling in it.  Maybe that way I can stop and take breaks along the side of the road under the umbrella during the hottest hours of the day and just ride in the early morning, and, if necessary, in the later evenings as well.

So that’s about the lot of it!  Next stop, Chiclayo, Peru – and my first destination along the coast!  I can’t wait!  Things have been looking up since I got to Peru, so I’m feeling optimistic and ready for some ancient ruins (which are apparently littered around that city and a bunch of places from thereafter until the Bolivian border).  Will post another log from Colombia tomorrow and get some more photos up between now and when I leave.  Wish me luck, and if you don’t hear from me by Wednesday, hopefully its because I’m slung up somewhere along the Pacific coast and not a scorched carcass in the Peruvian desert.


1 Response to “CE: The Melting World of Piura”

  1. 1 farshad
    March 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    hello i found by accident your page and have decided to ask you for permission to get a copy of your image img_6926.jpg in large format to print it in large format and put it on the wall of one of my rooms. could you please send me the photo (if you have it in original large format) or contact me if there is a problem with this idea. thank you for taking this amazing photo of southern Ecuador. and thank you for a great blog.

    i have saved my email in the comment field in case you can contact me.

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