1. Sometimes people are just helpful. My initial reaction to all the guides bothering me at the bus stations when I got off was to ignore them and walk through. But it turns out that these guys are willing to walk to you to whichever hostal you want, help you find the right one if you don’t know what you want, and set you up with a tour if you want one. They will even pick you up, drop you off, and help you buy your bus ticket. The best part is, they are just working and trying to help, and someone must be paying them, but it isn’t me.
2. I am not cut out for the party beach lifestyle. Although Montanita is a really fun pretty town with lots of seafood, being covered in sand and bug bites paired with a hostal that is more of a heat box than a room and blasting techno music until 6 am basically lines up to be my worst nightmare.
3. Quechan women are badass. They walk all day every day for miles and miles around the country side, carrying vegetables on their backs and herding their livestock. And not only do they do all this, they do it in a skirt. Not only a skirt, but brightly colored skirts, accompanied with bright tights and shoes resembling Mary Jane´s and the best part is the top hat that they always have on, it reminds me of Abraham Lincoln. I wish I was that cool.
4. Humans were not intended to ride the bus for days at a time. After one night on the bus I looked down at my feet and ankles and they were swollen, I loosened my keens and started to freak out, wondering if I was having some sort of reaction to the gallons of itch cream I had been applying, but it turns out it was just because I had been sitting for 12 hours, all is well now that I´ve been walking and hiking.
5. Piura sucks. Trujillo is pretty. But seeing both of them was an unplanned experience I can attribute to the bus system.
6. If you sit in a plaza long enough, you will get offered absolutely anything. From tours to lunch dates to a free trip on San Pedro Mescaline to help me bring in the New Year with a new vision and a cleansed life…at least No is No in Spanish and English so there isn’t any confusion.
7. Ecuador is easier than Peru. More than anything because when I´m in Ecuador I don´t have to constantly wonder how much money I´m spending in dollars. But also because Ecuador is about the size of Colorado and has one main road in the whole country, and Peru is a bit more confusing than that. And apparently my Spanish has become very Ecuadorian, and my constant use of the words “mande (what? Or pardon?) ” or “chevre (cool) ” always seem to receive a confused “where are you from?” response…Peruvians are wondering who this crazy American gringa is who travels alone and speaks Ecuadorian slang Spanish in an English accent.
8. Being away from your family on Christmas sucks. No matter where you are.
9. Riding the bus is a surprisingly awesome way to see a country. As long as you can get past the uncomfortable sleeping and controlling your water intake, it is a way to see parts of a country that you would never see by plane. And you get to meet a lot of cool people who are also traveling.
10. Traveling alone is lonely and liberating. Depending on the day, time, and situation.