Total distance travelled: 49,124.1 kilometres (30,511.86 miles)
When travelling long distance anywhere, it’s likely to be a great outcome if you can shave a couple of hours off of your travel time
When your overnight bus arrives at your destination 2 hours earlier than expected, doesn’t actually stop at the main bus terminal and the hour is half past 4 in the morning (therefore the city is still dark) however, it’s not something you usually get too chuffed about!
At least it wasn’t raining…
That’s why 5am (and the odd random pedestrian or police vehicle) saw us seated on the front step of our already booked Hostel Latacunga, wrapped within our sleeping bags… okay, there was no step, so we were in the gutter!
At some point, roughly 2 hours later, we heard a rattling of keys and suddenly the door behind opened, our presence slightly startling the staff member in question!
Thankfully, despite the early hour we were able to check in to what appeared to us to be a rather swanky looking hotel first and backpackers hostel second.
It did in fact appear, once we were lead to our dorm, that the hostel side of the business was a recent venture, as the dorms themselves were down in an underground level of the complex, something akin to a basement and possibly may have served at some time as a janitors closet!
After catching a few hours sleep, we ventured out, by now it being too late for breakfast, so lunch it was we sought.
Having read up on a local specialty, it was something specific that we sought, although after seeing the menu and prices in our recommended restaurant, we ultimately baulked.
Thankfully it was not an uncommon dish, and we quickly found a much cheaper, more local affair and ordered ourselves a plate of Chugchucara to share.
We quickly found ourselves presented with a plate of Mote and fried pork, which was quickly joined by an additional plate sporting fried Yuca and Potato, fried pork rind, popcorn, as well as roasted corn kernels.
Sounds ‘healthy’ I know, but my goodness, was it delicious!
We explored the city a little further, frustratingly attempted to find a church that was open to inspect the interior (without success), but did find a couple of supermarkets handily located to help us self-cater for breakfasts, and in the case of that particular night, dinner as well.
Despite there being no cooking facilities available, there was free tea and coffee, which meant an urn of hot water.
That hot water proved our kitchen that particular night, a lazy meal of pop noodles was more than sufficient for us after the deliciously bad lunch we’d had earlier in the day.
The following morning we woke to a cold and dark dorm room (dark due to the absence of windows being underground).
I’d (Chris) begun to develop a bit of a cold after our first night back from Galapagos, and by this particular morning was feeling pretty poor indeed.
Still, we didn’t want to do nothing, so a short bus trip to nearby Saquisili it was for their Thursday market.
This time, we actually did get to visit the Latacunga bus terminal (after our arrival from Guayaquil simply saw us deposited on the side of the highway), and from there perhaps half an hour later saw us in Saquisili.
The only problem now being, we didn’t really know where exactly the market was!
So, we decided to do what we thought most logical at the time on a crowded bus, and that was simply follow the crowd.
This place looked like just what we’d hoped for, locals, dressed in their normal garb and going through the motions of day to day life.
It was also nice to be away from other Gringos, as we only saw one other couple in our initial hour there.
We were rather eager to find where the livestock and other animals were sold, yet despite us seeing the odd goat being lead about, it seemed to elude us.
Eventually, we were forced to ask and it was only then that we discovered that the market is not isolated to simply one location within the town.
If there’s a vacant plaza (or even spare street), the market is likely to have spread there!
We never did find the big ticket animals, Llamas, Cows and the like, but we did eventually locate an area where some of the smaller fry was kept.
Stalls of both fresh and dried fish, the odd goat, chickens, ducks and of course that most famous of Andean treats, the guinea pigs!
Eventually we’d had our fill, so we decided to call it a day, my illness finally getting the better of me.
With the Quilatoa Loop off our agenda (thanks to my illness), we instead managed to rouse ourselves for another day trip to another market town and the famous Laguna de Quilatoa, which I’ll detail separately.
This additional excursion at least gave us a glimpse of the most famous part of the loop, so we were able to depart the city feeling a little more sated and was achieved after a couple of uneventful days (spent mainly in that basement) whilst I wallowed in my own self pity…
Latacunga delivered one final treat, literally during our last minutes in town.
As we were making our way towards the bus terminal to continue our journey, the doors were finally opened to one of those mysterious churches, an opportunity we were not going to miss (even if it was only because there was a service)…
* Our overnight bus from Guayaquil to Latacunga cost $8.00 US per person, for what was supposed to be about an 8 hour trip (it took around 6 hours)
* A bus to Saquisili for their market, cost $0.30 per person outward bound, yet it cost us $0.50 per person for the return trip…