Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 60: Our Favorites in the "Garden City" of Lima, Peru

Perhaps we didn't know what to expect. Perhaps our expectations were low. Perhaps the guidebooks scared us into assuming Lima was similar to our experience in Quito, Ecuador (you know...crime, pollution, urban chaos).

Regardless, we are pleasantly surprised about this wonderful "Garden City" of Lima. We've been having difficulty trying to come up with a comparable city that captures the essence of Lima. After much discussion over a 'few' Cristal cervezas, we think we figured it out (yea, right!). Of course, we are talking primarily of the nice Miraflores, San Isidro, and Barranco neighborhoods. The miles and miles of paved walkway and parks along the coastline remind us of Southern California with all the joggers, cyclists, and roller bladers. Everybody here, young and old, are out exercising. The shores are covered with surfers as well, but Lima doesn't give off a surfer vibe at all. The ocean seems to only be a backdrop to this massive, cosmopolitan city. However, the city is nothing like the SoCal city of Los Angeles. It is more reminiscent of a large capital city like Washington DC. In combination of the ocean and city, we thought Barcelona, Spain was the best comparison. We can feel the high-end influence of diplomats, international business people, and expats amongst the upper class Peruvians residing in the high-rise condos overlooking the ocean. Yet, even the nicest areas possess that South American edginess with graffiti on walls, massive security gates/walls, armed guards, etc. that makes any traveler a little worried about wandering off at night. We don't dare to imagine the conditions in the really rough side of town, closer to the city center and up into the shantytowns on the hillside.

[Below: coastline of Miraflores. See our YouTube video of Miraflores Coastline.]
Sometimes, when we are having difficulty finding words to describe something, someone else has already eloquently put them on paper. Such is the case with Lima. Lucien Chauvin in "Lima: 10 Things to Do" for TIME Travel summarizes this city best:

"Peru's sprawling megacapital is actually a mosaic of many smaller cities. Comprising 43 districts with nearly 9 million inhabitants, Lima is a study in contrasts, with ultramodern seaside neighborhoods butting up against gritty shantytowns that cling to barren hillsides. It is one of the world's few megacapitals that can claim a golf course in the middle of the financial district, and where executives can go surfing before high-powered breakfast meetings. Although it's built in a desert — Cairo is the only other metropolis drier than Lima — it's known as the "Garden City" and is home to one of world's largest fountain parks."

We've only been here for a couple of days, but here's a few of our favorite parts about Lima.

[Below: our hostel, Hostal Porta, at $45/night for a double, is tucked away in a residential street in the exclusive Miraflores District where hotels go for $300-500/night. This hostel is 2 blocks from the ocean front, 4 blocks from the upscale seaside entertainment complex - Larcomar, about 6 blocks from nice restaurants in Miraflores, 7-minute walk to Parque Kennedy and its surrounding bars and restaurants catering to backpackers/tourists, and plenty of small tiendas, lavanderias, banks, etc. to get errands done.]
[Below: Supermercado Vivanda, an upscale grocery store, reminiscent of a Whole Foods with lots of international and Peruvian groceries. We could live here with this kind of grocery store. Located in Miraflores on the corner of Avenida Benavides and Alcanfores.]
[Below: Charming brick and cobblestone streets full of restaurants. Boulevard Suche (between Alcanfores and La Paz) in Miraflores. Also, Calle Tarata between Avenida Larco and Alcanfores.]
[Below: Larcomar, upscale shopping and entertainment complex on the cliffs of Miraflores. It houses plenty of restaurants with a view, including American establishments such as Tony Roma's, Chili's, Burger King, Starbucks, etc. Be prepared to pay for the view, but well worth it! We realized we hadn't heard so much North American English until we were at Larcomar with all the tourists.]
[Below: Copa de Vino Blanco and the obligatory Pisco Sour - the national grape brandy drink of Peru, at one of the nice bars with a view at Larcomar.]
[Below: A long walk along the coast to the Barranco District for another charming scenery. This is called The Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), a lovely wooden structure spanning the Bajada de Baños, a stone walkway that runs down to the Pacific Ocean.]
[Below: A GREAT local restaurant find, Puerta Cerrada, in Barranco. They're not kidding when an appetizer, entree, and drink - all traditional Peruvian dishes - can be had for only 8 to 12 soles (US$3-5). This was our appetizer, rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers). Rocoto is a Peruvian chili that packs some heat.]
[Below: Paragliders all along the seashore. Best place to take-off and land is in Miraflores. Tourists can get a 10-minute tandem ride for $50. We enjoyed just watching them zoom by! View our YouTube video of paragliders taking-off and landing.]
[Below: BEAUTIFUL parks of Lima!]
[Below: A stroll along Avenida Pardo, a tree-lined pedestrian walkway in the middle of the avenue.]
[Below: Parqué de Amor. Park of Love!]
[Below: Selling Andean scenery artwork at Parqué Kennedy. This area has a lot of regular (not touristy) shopping malls and supermarkets. Just regular Limans hanging out on a Saturday afternoon.]
[Below: Yup, an actual Peruvian hairless dog! Feels like leather.]
[Below: Peruvian empanadas. Came with a lime! Never thought to squirt lime juice on empanadas, but it was a nice complement. Yummy.]

So, we've been "a little" busy exploring Lima! You can probably see why the name "Garden City" is appropriate for this megacity.

See the entire Peru Photo Album.

Day 58: 18-Hour Bus Ride from Los Organos to Lima, Peru

Peru is a large country! Getting around takes effort, time, and money. After soaking up the sun on the beaches of Los Organos in Northern Peru, we needed to head down to the coastal city of Lima. The distance is approximately 1200 kilometers (750 miles), but due to the road conditions, it takes at least 16-18 hours by vehicle. The Pan-American Norte Highway has plenty of gravel parts and potholes, and plenty of little desert towns to drive through along the way. Going 50 mph is muy rápido!

Here are the 3 options we considered. We were planning on leaving Los Organos on Wednesday, June 27th.

(1) For about $20/pp, take the local buses all the way down to Lima; possibly transferring buses multiple times; possibly having to spend the night in some desert town in the middle of nowhere; risking dangers of nighttime travel; and eventually arriving in Lima either late Thursday or Friday.

(2) For about $55/pp, take an overnight "ejecutivo" bus direct to Lima. No transfers, no stops (except to change bus drivers), no overnight stays anywhere. The double decker bus provides 2 levels of service. First class on the bottom floor provides reclining seats, blanket/pillow, electrical outlets, free wifi, flat screen TV, dinner and breakfast service. Like business class on wheels! Because the bus is direct, and doesn't pick up random people along the way, it is also quite safe. Luggage is actually tagged with a baggage claim check as well.

(3) For about $120/pp, fly from Piura (a 3-4 hour bus ride from Los Organos) to Lima. The flight is approximately 2 hours.

Guess what we decided to do? Yes, the "ejecutivo" bus was a nice compromise. We didn't want to spend $250 of our budget on a flight, but the $110 was worth spending for a comfortable ride all the way to Lima. Several bus companies offer this service. We went with Oltursa, but there is also Transportes Cruz del Sur.
There's only 12 first class seats, so we were glad we purchased the tickets a few days in advance. We left Los Organos at 6 pm; dinner was served around 8 pm on board; we did briefly stop in the city of Piura around 9:30 pm to pick up food, exchange drivers, etc.; then headed for the open road for hours and hours and hours...all night long. Breakfast was served around 8 am; and we started to see the metropolis of Lima around 11:30 am; although it took us another hour in the gridlock traffic to arrive at Oltursa's terminal. We finally arrived at 12:30 pm - 18 hours later.
[Below: view that we woke up to! Coast of Peru is miles and miles of beautiful desert, sand dunes, rock formations, etc.]
[Below: bumper to bumper traffic in Lima. Barrios on the hillside in the background.]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pre-emptive Strike on Mosquito Bites

Not only do I hate mosquitos, the bites overreact into gigantic red welts that itch and hurt like hell, takes forever to heal, and leaves perm-scars.  Sooooo, a Peruvian beach paradise, or an Amazon jungle expedition, or a Thailand beach paradise could be real issues.   Not to mention, we have to take malaria precautions in many of these places as well. 

Not to fret.  This week in Los Organos, Peru has been a good trial for our future 2-months of mosquitos in Southeast Asia.  

We've gone through plenty of insect repellant spray to maintain our 24/7 coverage (which, by the way, is one item that is not cheap in Peru).  We also have mosquito coils in our bungalow, and keep the fan blowing on us all night.  

But, what happens when they DO infiltrate our shield and we get bit?  Those anti-itch creams don't do a damn thing. 

I know this sounds like quackery...I thought the same thing...however, the BEST tool I brought with me is called Therapik.  Thera...wha?!  Exactly.  Bug venom is sensitive to heat.  Immediately after a bite, the heat from this device is applied directly to the bite for about 30 seconds, converting the poison into a protein, and relieving the itch and potential inflammation.  
It is no short of a miracle for me.  The bites that I've gotten have been zapped with the Therapik and they are essentially gone.  No itch, no pain, no inflammation, no welts.  AMAZING!

Therapik is also suppose to work on bee stings, flea/tick bites, and jellyfish stings as well.  

So there.  My product endorsement for the year.  Therapik - check it out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 56: Day in Máncora, Peru

We made it out of our oasis in Los Organos and spent the day in the more popular town and beaches of Máncora, Peru. There are no taxis here, only mototaxis, but our last ride via mototaxi from Máncora to our bungalow was a bit rough (and expensive) for the route. We were told that we could ride-share with others wanting to go to the same destination in someone's personal vehicle. They usually take up to 5 passengers at 2.50 soles/pp (~$1/pp) or 12 soles (~$4) to hire the entire car. We noticed that these drivers usually congregate at a certain place near the center of Los Organos town on the Pan-American Hwy. We walked over to this area and started asking the drivers. Some were going to Tumbes and other places, but we found a driver headed to Máncora. Lucky for us, 3 more locals walked up for a total of 5 passengers, so we didn't have to wait at all! About 10 minutes later, we were in Máncora. This was much better than the 30 minute mototaxi ride, getting nearly run over by semis and buses, worrying if we would have to get out and push the cart up some hills.

Máncora definitely offers more variety of bars, restaurants, and hotels that cater to the Americans. We saw hamburgers and pizza joints, as well as at least one vegetarian restaurant. There was plenty of souvenir shops and places to take surfing, kite/wind surfing lessons. The beach was full of mostly tourists. We hardly saw any Peruvians vacationing in Máncora, except for the occasional group of young Peruvian guys checking out the blondes in bikinis, and getting pictures taken with them (no joke.)

After walking the town, we settled into a few bar/restaurants along the beach for an afternoon of relaxation.

[Below: Tiradito, similar to ceviche, without the red onions. Still marinated in lime juice. Usually comes with ají amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili) sauce. Accompaniments included roasted corn nuts, yucca, beans, and sweet potato.]

We were highly entertained by the translation FAILS, as seen by the signage below.

Getting back to Los Organos was a bit more challenging. It seems there's not as many people wanting to go this direction. We ended up hiring a car for 25 soles (~$9) to get back. So, if planning to trek into Máncora more frequently, it would probably be best to just stay in Máncora. We enjoyed our day, but preferred the tranquility of our Los Organos hideaway.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Week 8: Los Organos, Peru - A Far Away Beach Paradise

A major advantage of extended travel is that we have nothing but time, so we are able to seek out the hard-to-reach places around the globe.  Los Organos is such a place.

It seems that no one outside of Peru makes this trek to these beaches.  After all, it takes another 16 hours by vehicle from Lima or a 2-hour flight and 4-hour bus ride from Lima.   Obviously, there are easier beaches to get to.  

The nearest tourist attraction is about 15 km north in Máncora - a backpacker and surfer destination.  As a result, there are quite a few cheap hostels, bars, and nightclubs that cater to this crowd.  

We chose a little more isolation and tranquility over the party atmosphere in Máncora, and found a nice beach bungalow at Muelle Viejo in Los Organos.  This place was hardly advertised anywhere in English, but we think we found them through  We have felt like we are house guests of Coco, the surfer-owner, along with his surfer girlfriend, Julia.  Luis is the hardworking help who keeps the property maintained, gets our breakfast ready, and cleans our room.  Their 3 dogs, Blanca, Chocolatín, and Rita are sweet and make us miss our dog dearly.  There's only 5 bungalows, all facing the ocean, and an outdoor common area with couches and hammocks that are covered by a thatched roof, trees and foliage.  The constant breeze makes this place the most comfortable hang-out ever...except for the threat of mosquitos, but that's what bug spray is for. [View the YouTube video of Muelle Viejo common area.]

In this fishing village of Los Organos, we are rewarded with the surf and sand of the Pacific Ocean; perfect temperatures; view of the fishermen at work; pelicans flying by; lots of fresh seafood (ceviche!); the small town of Los Organos; friendly playful dogs; swinging hammocks; sipping Pisco Sours and beers; a beautiful sunset; and total relaxation in this oasis.  

Since this is the winter off-season, things are even more quiet than usual.  We practically have the beach to ourselves.  There has only been one other guest staying at Muelle Viejo.  A Canadian from Quebec who we've enjoyed getting to know over the last few days.  She left today to meet up with the rest of her group from Quebec to do volunteer work in Ayacucho.  We hope to visit her in Quebec, one of these days! Here Is her and Mike toasting to Pisco Sours.

Surprisingly, the days fly by.  After breakfast, we've been taking a long walk with Rita (the dog) along the beach; then we usually go into town to the market or run errands; then we sunbathe and take a swim in the ocean; then...just relax.  Read books, drink beer, whatever.  It hasn't been difficult, even for Ms. Type A Personality (aka. Akiko)!  

[Below: dirt road by our bungalow. These are bars and restaurants that serve fresh seafood from the boats across the street.]

[Below: mototaxis - main form of public transportation.]

We've already seen our share of poverty in the many towns we've come across, and Los Organos is no different.  However, as far as we can see, the people are hard workers; the small town is bustling, clean, and safe (don't be put off by the dirt roads and rundown buildings); and they look happy.  Everyone knows everyone and it feels like a big family here.  We are happy to contribute to their economy and try to leave a generous impression so that we are welcome back next time.
[Below: Mercado in Los Organos town.]

[Below: Sunset...and dog.]

[Below: beaches of northern Peru. From]

View the entire Peru Photo Album.

Cost: Ecuador for 2-Weeks

We know that everyone spends differently, and a budget can be extremely variable; however, after leaving an area, we want to provide some perspective on the cost associated with staying there for anyone interested in doing a similar trip.  Our budget of $100 - $150/day is for 2 people and does not include the $10,000 round-the-world flights (plus trip insurance) already paid for.  The budget also does not account for the bills we are continuing to pay at home.  Our budget allows for a comfortable, low-to-mid-range lodging in hostels or budget hotels with private bath, meals/drinks, use of public transportation, and cost to do some sightseeing and/or activities.  As foodies, we are not depriving ourselves from eating and drinking whatever and whenever we want to, although we are usually focused on finding local cuisine.  Most of the time, breakfast seems to be included in the cost of lodging, so we are paying for 1-2 meals/day. An article titled, "Set Your Daily Number" by the veteran travel bloggers from Married With Luggage confirms that a daily average is a simple strategy for setting and meeting a budget.  We've got in the habit of taking a few minutes to record our daily expenditure so we can make small adjustments along the way.  

We spent 15 days total in Ecuador, where on average, $30-50 gets you great lodging with breakfast; a full meal costs less than $5; 25-50 cents for bottled water; a large bottle of beer for $2; laundry service costs $1/kg; and a bus ride is approximately $1/hour.  Expect the cities such as Quito, Guayaquil, and Cuenca to cost a little more.  We spent 4 nights in Quito, 7 nights in Baños de Agua Santa, and 4 nights in Cuenca.  Here is our breakdown:

$35/day.  The average rate in Quito and Cuenca was $60/night, but Baños was only $16/night.

$40/day for 2 full meals per day, including a few more expensive places due to the view or location. We've eaten every meal out because we haven't had a kitchen to cook in.

DRINKS (bottled water, beer, wine, soda)
$11/day...quite inexpensive for us!

$233 total for taxis and long-haul bus rides.  The 3-hour and $130 private tour to Mindo in a cab killed our budget.  Without this luxury, it would've been more like $8/day.  ($15/day)

$17 on haircut/shave, soap, toothpaste, antibiotic cream, etc.  ($1/day)

SOUVENIRS/POSTCARDS (including postage)
We spent $71 on mostly postage to send the 20 or so, postcards.  ($5/day)  

$54 on buying some clothing items such as a hat and swimwear and laundry service every third day or so. ($3/day)

$36 total or $2/day

$18 on ATM transaction fees - usually an ATM usage surcharge ($5) plus 1% of the withdrawal.  We didn't have to pay for any wifi anywhere.  ($1/day)

Approximately $120/day puts us under budget,  so you can see that Ecuador is perfect for the budget traveler!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 51: Bus Trip from Cuenca, Ecuador to Máncora, Peru

The 360 km Ecuador to Peru bus trip was the ride we were dreading because we had read about all the difficulties experienced along this route.  The typical stories included getting on a bus that only took them to the nearest border town, but had to find a taxi to actually take them to the Ecuadorian immigration office (which is 3 km away from the actual border), then had to find a taxi or walk across the border to the Peruvian immigration office (which is also another 3 km away from the actual border in the town of Zarumilla), then had to locate another bus that continued down into Peru.  Also, some have reported getting a bus from Ecuador that takes them across the Peruvian border, but did not stop at the Ecuadorian immigration office to get stamped out, so they had to return to Ecuador.  Not to mention the multiple scam artists who prey on tourists trying to do this border crossing on their own.  It all sounded very complicated so we were not looking forward to this experience.  

The most important point for us to recognize was that no matter how much research and planning we did, each person experienced a different twist or turn.   The best information we found was through the Cuenca expat website called  We took their recommendations, but as imagined, our experience did not exactly match what they went through.  Here is the documentation of OUR Cuenca to Máncora trip in hopes that this will add to the body of information available to alleviate some uncertainty for the next soul thinking about making this trip.

Our plan was to leave Cuenca, Ecuador on Wednesday, June 20th, 2012.

Monday, June 18th:  We took a taxi to the main Terminal Terrestre in Cuenca to purchase tickets for our anticipated bus ride to Máncora, Peru.  GoGo-Gringo recommended buying tickets through the Pullman Sucre bus line all the way to Máncora, because this bus was suppose to take us directly to the Ecuadorian immigration; then transfer us to the CIFA bus line at the border town of Huaquillas, Ecuador; which will then take us through the Peruvian immigration and onto our destination.  We saw on the bus schedule that there was a 9 am bus to Máncora that GoGo-Gringo also took, but when we talked to the attendant at the window, we only had 2 choices: 7:15 am or 9 pm bus.  They should really change the posted bus schedule if it's not accurate...but, whatever.  Yet another reason to go a day or two in advance to purchase tickets.  We went with the 7:15 am departure because we certainly did not want to risk the dangers of traveling overnight.  We were given 2 separate tickets.  One from Cuenca to Huaquillas at $7/pp and another from Huaquillas to Máncora at $8/pp.  

Wednesday, June 20th, 0700: To get from the inside of the terminal to the outside where the buses are lined up, it costs 10 cents to go through the turnstile.  Be warned, once you go through the turnstile, there really is no way to get back into the terminal which has the restrooms, food, etc.

0715:  We located the one and only Pullman Sucre bus among about a dozen buses idling, but we started getting worried when the bus door was still closed, there was no bus driver or bus attendant that usually accompanies the ride, and no overt signage that says this bus was headed towards Huaquillas. Miraculously, the bus personnel and passengers showed up at 0720, we all got onboard and the bus pulled away a couple of minutes later.  We had assigned seats on this bus.

0740:  We meandered through Cuenca, stopping a million times to pick up passengers until the bus was full.  We were finally getting used to this process!  We picked up a bunch of people at Centro Comercial El Arenal - a HUGE indoor and outdoor central market of Cuenca.  It looked like an excellent place for time we're in town.

0800:  We were finally headed out of Cuenca, southwest bound towards Santa Rosa, Machala, and Huaquillas.

0930: This ride was rough at times.  Literally, dirt roads through the steep mountains!  We hypothesized that the bus attendant started playing a video on board (Rambo, First Blood at that!) so that we would be distracted from the sheer vertical drops along our route.

1000: As we started leaving the Andes behind, the landscape changed dramatically to dry, arrid, rocky, brown mountains with a river running through it.  It was very beautiful. 

1045:  We pulled into the very dusty, depressed town of Machala at an actual Pullman Sucre bus station....and to think we were at one point, thinking about spending the night here to break up the 10-hour bus ride.   

1100:  We started seeing HUGE banana groves to the horizon on both sides.  Ecuador is one of the biggest banana exporters in the world, and we witnessed where they all come from.  Wow!

1130:  We briefly stopped in the city of Santa Rosa.  Also, very dusty and run-down.  

1200:  ...then, the city of Arenillas.  Ditto on the conditions of this town...

1230:  We finally made it to the Huaquillas CIFA bus terminal where we were...unexpectedly...dropped off.  It was unexpected because in all our research, we were suppose to pass through the Ecuadorian immigration office BEFORE we got dropped off in Huaquillas!  Arrghhh.  Of course, trying to have this conversation with the bus attendant and CIFA office lady was fruitless.  Great.  We had no idea where the Ecuadorian immigration office was, nor did we know when our CIFA bus towards Máncora was leaving.  In the waiting area, we met 2 backpackers who were headed to Piura - a city 3 hours past Máncora.  They said our bus would not be leaving until 2:30 pm (2 hours later), which was confirmed by 2 other CIFA bus personnel.  By the way, none of the posted schedules said anything about Máncora or 2:30 pm - double "great."  After using the nice restrooms at the bus stop for 20 cents, we tried to make good use of our time, so we headed across the street to grab some lunch.  

1245:  While we were finishing up our lunch (chicken, lentils, rice) Mike saw our backpacker buddies getting onto a bus that just pulled in alongside the street, but not into the actual bus station.  Akiko ran across the street to the bus, confirming that it was headed to Piura (which means it will also go through Máncora), so we quickly paid for our lunch half-eaten, and jumped on this bus.  We probably could've waited for the Máncora-bound bus (assuming it was still on its way at 2:30 pm), but this was even better since we didn't have to kill 2 hours at the bus station.  It was a leap of faith, since the only destination signage on the bus was "Directo."  It didn't say Piura anywhere, but the bus attendant saw our CIFA tickets and told us to get, that was that.  The only other concern at this point was getting to the Ecuadorian immigration office before we headed into Peru.

1300:  Lo and behold, we pulled into a brand new Ecuador immigration complex!  Whew.  All the blogs mentioned a run-down immigration building, so with the new facility, perhaps the bus process also changed recently.  Either way, we were very glad to see that things were working out after all.  We filled out an immigration card and waited in line to get stamped out of Ecuador.  20 minutes later, we were back on the same bus, headed towards Peru.

1330:  The bus drove around a crazy busy market and bridge that spans the river separating Ecuador and Peru.  

1345:  We then arrived at the Peruvian immigration office in Zarumilla where we got off the bus again to get stamped-in to Peru.  Again, 20 minutes later, we were back on the same bus, headed towards Máncora. Things were looking good at this point!

1430:  We rolled into an actual CIFA bus terminal in Tumbes to get the windows washed and for a restroom break. 

1500:  We were pleased that we were passing through all these little coastal towns without stopping.  Perhaps the "Directo" on the bus actually meant something.  We could feel the heat of the desert sun, with our only "air conditioning" being the windows wide open, smelling all the smells that rural Peru had to offer.  We saw lots of farmland and desert, but we were finally rewarded with a view of the ocean!  Yay!

1545:  We bypassed Punta Sol, knowing Máncora was the next town.

1600:  It had been a really long day, so when we had to go through a Cargo/Baggage Inspection station in the middle of nowhere, we were not happy.  They actually made us get off of the bus and go through customs.

1620:  20 minutes later, we confirmed with the bus attendant that we wanted off in Máncora and we were finally (hopefully) headed there.  

1630:  The bus attendant flagged us to get ready to jump off the bus as we approach Máncora, and with barely a stop, we jumped off the bus to an assault of mototaxi drivers and salespeople for all the various hotels and tourist services.  

1630:  Although we got off in Máncora, we still had another 15 km to our final destination of Los Organos beach.  After walking through Máncora for a few minutes to gain our bearings, we didn't see any taxis so we paid 30 soles (~$10, too much probably but we didn't care at this point!) for a mototaxi to take us to our lodging.  Apparently, there are no official taxis; however, many people ride-share for approximately 2.50 soles/pp if the car has 5 passengers; or, you can hire the whole car for 12 soles.  The mototaxi was okay, but obviously took longer to get to Los Organos than a car; not to mention we literally thought we would have to get out and push this thing over a few hills that it was sputtering hard to overcome.  

1700:  We finally arrived at our oasis in Los Organos, 10 hours later.

So, this was yet another adventure that overall, went as well as we could expect.  Not knowing what to expect next all along the way is mentally exhausting, but we remained positive the whole trip. We won't go out on a limb and say we enjoyed it, but we gained more confidence and we would do it all over again.