The Spa at the End of the Road in Ecuador

I love airports.

Not because they are fun or comfortable. Not because they make you feel welcome. Not for their delicious food or reasonable prices. Not for the wonderful, kind human beings you will encounter there.

No, I love airports because, if you squint your eyes just right, they feel like teleportation portals. To wake up in one place, step on a plane, and find yourself sleeping that night in the middle of a foreign city, on another continent, surrounded by new sounds and smells.

The magic and science of a knowable world within our grasp. All thanks to airports.

It almost makes travel too easy. The world awaiting at the end of a short, convenient flight.

So, in order to maintain our travel perspective and, let’s be honest, to torture ourselves a little bit, Angela and I forwent the easy flight and took the bus from Peru to Ecuador. Because nothing promotes humility like a lengthy bus ride across an international border.

On the map, the distance between Tumbes, Peru, and Guayaquil, Ecuador, seems straightforward and short. Only 266 kilometers (165 miles). But in reality, it’s a six-hour journey that winds through some beautiful, but dusty, real estate. We booked our 18 USD tickets with Busbud on the same day we traveled, showing up at the Parada de Autobus station in downtown Tumbes two hours early to ensure we would have a seat.

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It was a hot and less-than-comfortable wait at the station, the one oscillating fan serving only to stir the humidity and herd a swarm of flies from one side of the room to the other and back again. I would highly recommend picking up some snacks for the trip before you get to the station as the few shops in that area have little to offer.

And, although Busbud did provide a decent meal along the way, your stop at the border will be a lengthy one. It took two hours for the 60 bus passengers to get through immigration, and we were the only large group there at the time.

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But we made it into Guayaquil just as the sun was setting and got to catch a quick glimpse of the city known as the gateway to the Galapagos. Sometime in the future, we will return to Guayaquil before setting off to explore those remote islands that Charles Darwin so revered. But for this trip, one night was all we could spare.

The next day, we opted for a plane instead of the eight-hour bus ride from Guayaquil to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. Our time in the country was already too limited, and we had already sacrificed one day just getting from point A to point B. Moreover, with nonstop flights on TAME airlines starting at 36 USD, it was an easy decision to make.

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In Quito, we stayed just outside the city at a marvelous bed and breakfast that truly deserved its designation. The Casa d’Campo Tababela Hotel Boutique was everything a B&B is supposed to entail. Charming, courteous, comfortable, and immaculately clean, with personal touches throughout, including an impressive library and a toy car collection. They even had a full-sized playhouse for guests with children!

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We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing at the property and meeting the hosts. They even arranged transportation for us to drive into the mountains and enjoy a day at the Papallacta Hot Springs. Although we aren’t typically inclined to indulge in an all-inclusive spa, we were still tense from the bus ride of previous days, and this one was well worth the expense. With multiple pools and jets of varying temperatures and pressures, it was easy for us to find our own, quiet refuge on the property.

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In the warm, natural mineral water, the strain of traveling for months on end faded away to a dull memory.

Dusty roads…

Border crossings…

The bus ride all but forgotten…

And something about airports…

 

 

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