23
Oct
08

Starting out…again

Tuesday, 21st October

As my bus to Quito pulls out of Guayaquil’s enormous station I flick through my Ipod and, for no particular reason, choose Tim Armstrong’s solo album and navigate straight to my favourite track ‘Into Action’. It’s a kick-ass tune that I always play air-bass to, even in public. My seat buddy shifts uncomfortably. The chorus kicks in, then the first verse: ‘we take the 43 bus, we got no plans…’ I smile slightly and can’t resist glancing down at my ticket. Sure enough: bus no. 43. I laugh once, loudly and at an ear-splitting pitch. Ha!

I sleep all the way and wake up as the bus winds its way into the mountain capital. The plan, if I really MUST have one, is to set up base here for a while, try and get a job, go walking in the mountains at weekends and brush up on my South American literature. If it all falls through, I’ve got my eye on a job in Bogota. It’s only a 24 hour bus ride away. ‘Only!’, I hear you cry. Well, in reality, buses are the only feasible way to get around South America. Sure, you can fly, but first of all you miss some fantastic scenery, and second, it’s simply a much cheaper alternative.

Thursday, 23rd October

As is becoming rather customary here in Ecuador, I’ve been thrown another nasty curve-ball. I discover this morning that the immigration officials here are going to charge me $230 to remain in the country after the 27th, when my tourist visa expires. In a typical display of British stoicism, I refuse to stump up the cash and half-storm, half-mince out of the building. After a good deal of silent effing and blinding I decide that this inconvenience is not nearly as inconvenient as it originally appeared, since all I have to do to avoid the charge is to leave and re-enter the country. Sitting on a bench in the El Ejido park and a tad less bitter about the whole thing, I whip out the guidebook. The nearest border crossing is five hours north at Tulcan, a mere stroll by South American standards. From there, the innumerable possibilities of Colombia await me. I pick out Cali, a nine hour bus ride from the border and the purported salsa and plastic surgery capital of the world.

If ever there was a distraction, this was it. Whether I really need a distraction is debatable. Sure, I’ll go back to Ecuador in a few days, but for now…

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