Posted tagged ‘Ecuador’

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

September 20, 2014

Being under the covers did no good. They were too skimpy and the house was too cold. I jumped out of bed, put on my slippers, my sweatshirt and my around the house pants then ran downstairs and turned on the heat. It was 62˚. I got my coffee and warmed my hands around the cup. Soon enough the house was cozy.

When I was a kid, I could make something out of nothing. Life was an adventure. A walk became a trek or a safari. The train tracks were a trip into the unknown. The woods were deep and harbored creatures which shied from humans, but we knew they were there. The old fallen tree trunk was a spaceship or even a pirate ship. A tree branch was a sword. We followed paths we’d never been on before. They were narrow and overhung with branches you had to hold and push aside. If you let go of the branch, the person behind you got whacked. That was never a good idea.

My life is still an adventure. I’ve been lucky in that way. I don’t see spaceships any more, but I have seen parts of the world I could never have imagined. I remember the house in Ecuador where Guinea pigs were running around then I found out they were a popular dish called cuy. The bus stopped in the Sierra Nevada mountains for lunch, and I had the best trout I have ever eaten. The other passengers pointed to it on the menu to make sure we ordered it. Sunsets give me pause everywhere. A starry sky is one of the most beautiful of all sights. I saw the Andes covered with snow. I saw bananas and pineapples growing. I have been to Africa.

When I was eleven, I vowed I’d see the world. I still have places to go, but I’m working on it. I love adventures.

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If no man could become rich in Peru, no man could become poor.”

July 30, 2012

No movie last night: it was “spitting rain” as my mother would have said so my friends and I played games, ate inside and watched the Olympics. Today is still a bit damp, but I think the sun is making a decided effort to appear. The morning is a lot lighter than it’s been.

We’re still in South America, in Guayaquil, Ecuador. We got here on a small boat from Duran where the auto-bus had finished its run after scaring the heck out of us while showing us the most amazing sights. Guayaquil was hot, and the hotel we found had no screens so I was a mosquito magnet. I don’t remember anything about the city. I just remember swatting and scratching all night. We stayed only a day as the city was really planned as a transit stop. The next day we took another local bus toward the border, and the people were again most accommodating in the passport transfer from the back to the front. We got to the Ecuadorian/Peruvian border too late to cross so we had to stay in Ecuador overnight. That border town reminded me of something out of an old western movie. People were walking out and about all night, and the cantinas were all open and crowded, mostly with men. Our hotel was right on the main drag, a cheap hotel right near the border. For a bathroom it had a hole which necessitated good aim. The hole was out back.

Because I had not slept the night before, I fell sleep right away and heard nothing. My friend was awake most of the night because of the noise and the people walking by our room right on the street. She was a bit frightened by the thought of our room being so central so I think staying up was really a sort of guard duty for her. The next morning we got breakfast and changed dollars into Peruvian sol as the rate was so much cheaper in Ecuador. We got double what we would have gotten into Peru, and knowing we were heading to Machu Picchu, we changed a lot of money. The two of us walked through the border into the first building, passport control. Signs were all over about the amount of Peruvian money you could bring into the country. We were way over the limit. We noticed clothes flung over a screen and realized someone was really being searched. My friend immediately started to panic as we had hidden a lot of money in our bras. I told her to write down on the entry form an amount of money above the limit so we looked honest. That worked. We got a lecture but that was all. The next building was to prove we had a ticket out of Peru before we could come into Peru. Anyone who didn’t was directed to a small building where they were forced to buy bus tickets they’d probably never use. I realized the guy checking tickets spoke no English so I gave him the sheaf of plane tickets, and he flipped through the pile and let me go. I told him my friend was with me, and he hand gestured her a wave out of the building as well. We boarded a bus to Lima.

More tomorrow if you don’t mind.

Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown. Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.”

July 29, 2012

Last night it poured. Lightning jigsawed in the sky outside the north window in my den and gave the room sudden bursts of bright light. The rumbles of thunder were like growls. The rain fell in giant drops which thudded against the roof and the eaves. Rivulets of rain water ran down my hilly driveway as if in a race to reach the bottom. I watched  from my backdoor. Today is cloudy and has a chilly breeze magnified by the dampness left by the storm. No movie tonight.

I was going to give you more of my travelog every couple of days, but the response was enough to know I wouldn’t bore you if I continued. It’s fun for me to remember.

We got a bus to Quito over the border when we left Colombia. It resembled a school bus. My friend and I were the only non-Ecuadorians. On that bus I saw Indians for the first time. Women wore colorful clothes and had shawls wrapped around their shoulders. They all wore hats which reminded me of the fedora my father used to wear. The bus was stopped a few times by police doing checks. Each time it was stopped, the people in front of us passed up our passports then passed them back to us. When we arrived in Quito, we decided to stay in the old city. Our hotel, a small one on a side street, was one block from the monastery in the center and a few blocks from La Ronda, the old street with colonial houses, a narrow street with some of the oldest buildings in the city. We wandered all over that part of the city and ate in some of the small restaurants. We took busses to the different markets outside the city. We went to Otavalo Market. Back then it wasn’t the tourist attraction it has become. We wandered all over. I bought a few pieces of hand-stitched Indian patterned cloth and walked all through the donkey market. I stopped to buy food from the women who reminded me of the African women who sat along the sides of the road selling fried plantain or yam. I don’t even know what I ate there. I just know it was good.

When we got back to Quito, it was quite late but we still went out to eat dinner. I tried Guinea pig, a national dish in Ecuador.  I was not going to be put off by eating something small and cuddly. I had gotten pass queasiness a long time before that dinner. The pig came roasted with all its parts though cut into pieces. I’m not big on the head and feet of any animals and was even less enthused by the Guinea pig’s. There wasn’t much meat, but it tasted like chicken. I swear it.

The next day we took a bus to the equator. A small shack was the only indicator we had arrived. Where was that black line I always see on globes? Just kidding! I stood right at the line with one foot in each hemisphere. It was an amazing feeling to be there. The small shack sold postcards which were stamped with 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude so I bought a few. I sent my family a postcard from each country so they could keep track of where we were, and I thought this was special.

We left Quito to go to Guayaquil on the auto-bus, called that but really a train. It was the most amazing train ride of my life. We had seats in the front, big mistake. Animals that didn’t get off the tracks were hit off the tracks. I stopped watching. The center aisle of the bus-train was filled with standing people who scrunched down whenever we went through a town. The train traveled through tropical areas where I saw banana trees filled with fruit. The train went up Devil’s Nose, a zig-zag section of track where the train goes forward and backward to reach the next town; it was both frightening and wonderful. We rode alongside the snow-capped mountains of the Andes. The train finished its trip in Duran where we took a boat across to Guayaquil. One of the few Americans we met came running up to us just as we were getting on the boat saying he had given his luggage to a taxi driver who disappeared. We commiserated. That was all the help we could give.

Tomorrow we’ll arrive in Guayaquil!