We had heard bad things about the big border crossing into Ecuador at Huaquillas, and good things about Cuenca and the Podocarpus National Park near Loja, so we decided it would be sensible to cross the border at Macara and go up into the hills rather than skirting the coast and heading directly to Guayaquil.
This was mostly a success, in that we avoided a crowded border crossing and saw first-hand how the landscape and climate changes just around the border from desert to tropical jungle. Sadly, the border crossing at Macara was painfully slow, and we had to spend a lot of time queueing up in the rain: first to be stamped out of Peru, then to be given a form to fill in to get into Ecuador, and then a third time to hand over the form and get stamped into Ecuador. Still, we were relatively lucky: a Venezuelan couple were denied entrance to Ecuador, apparently because they couldn't produce documentation proving that they didn't have criminal records. We last saw them deep in discussion at the Ecuadorean border post after having taken their luggage off the bus. I hope that, at least, they were allowed back in to Peru rather than having to stay on a rainy bridge forever.
Sadly, Loja itself is a bit of a hole. It has a ridiculous city gate - a 1990s "reconstruction" of one apparently built by conquistadores, by way of Disneyland. It also has literally dozens of 24-hour pharmacies, and a few rather sad fast food joints. Nothing else is open on Saturday night or after lunchtime on Sunday, so we didn't wait around on Monday to see whether there were better options but got straight back on a bus, heading to Cuenca.