Carnival in Cuenca
Moving from Banos to Cuenca saw me stuck for almost a day in Ambato, with no available seats on any of the onwards busses, due to carnival being on.
In the end, I got a terribly expensive (well, relatively, busses in Ecuador are extremely cheap) and tiny bus with even tinier seats that saw me get to Cuenca just before dawn. A taxi drove me to my hotel, driving through a pleasant looking town, which struck me as resembling a French suburb at night. The city has plenty of gorgeous early 20th century brick buildings on the many cobbled streets that make up downtown Cuenca.
Cuenca, in the south of Ecuador, is a homely colonial town, that feels intimate and cosy at the same time.
Carnival is celebrated by having dousing each other in water. I mostly stayed dry, though on my last day in Cuenca, a bucket of water from a third story window saw me soaked.
A few hours outside Cuenca are the ruins of ingapirca, Ecuador's equivalent to Machu Picchu, if in reality only a pale shadow of Peru's ruins. Like in Peru, it's possible to take a train to the ruins, though here public transport busses also ply the whole way to the site, just not very frequently.
The site gives you a good indication of what the incas were able to achieve, if on a small scale compared to Machu Picchu. Also, some of the buildings appear to have been constructed using a type of mortar, something you won't find in Peru.
Before boarding the bus onwards to Chiclayo in peru, hand luggage was inspected, and everyone was patted down, by police.