So many climates. We started out in the cool but sunny temps of Cuenca at about 65 degrees and along th way to LoJa the temps climbed and climbed. At one point we were at 90 degrees. I drove all day while Rene took the front passenger seat and Dave and Robin were in th back. Dave came thru his stomach bug but was tired. We made it out of town on th Avenue of the Americas with no problems except I need to be more vigilant and understanding of round a bouts because there are a lot of them in Ecuador. We did a lot of climbing and the Jeep can really scoot when I need to pass a big truck, bus or a slow moving car.
I was amazed by all the climates we passed thru. The Pacific NW feel of Cuenca, to dry and warm down south to the tropical of LoJa and now to a temperate climate here in Vilcabamba. Now isn’t that an interesting name…say that a few times fast.
The high point yesterday, Sunday was finding Saraguro, a small town about two hours north of Vilcabamba. the Lonely planet mentioned that there was a Sunday market so we hooked a right and found ourselves I the thick of it right about lunch time. We checked out everything via a quick walk about with a few stops along the way for discreet pictures. the people are modest and shy so using a blockage like Rene and David, I was able to use my spy skills and get a few unposed pictures of the local people.
And gosh are they a beautiful group. Black braids adorn the men with fish tail Frnch braids drapeing down their backs. They wear simple leather shoes or black garden boots. The women have long black skirts that might be of a wrap around style. But the fabric is stretchy and has fine tight pleats. their blouses are covered with colorful embroidery and their jewelry is either a single color or multi colored beaded neck wraps. I bought one for Colette that I hope she will like. I also found some earrings for me and a cut hummingbird key chain. All in the beaded macramé style common here.
The town square included a magnificent church with carved wooden doors that must have been 14 feet high. We had our picture taken and you can see it on Facebook. In our walk around town we found two Plazas with beautiful flowers and cement benches where the locals sit and visit. Most of the elders are in traditional garb, described above but the teens are in jeans, tight and Tshirts. AND most everyone has a cell phone and knows how to use it. I saw a very elderly man in traditional clothes sitting in the plaza using his red phone!!
After Saraguro, gosh I Wanted to stay there…we continued down the road and the roads are in great shape. In fact they look brand new. Most are two lane, sometimes four lane, clean except for an occasional pig, cow, donkey or dog. The other thing about this area are dirt bikes…they are everywhere. and the drivers go fast. Many use no helmets, sandals. yes Gods!! And on we went till…Loja, a large University town and then onto Vilcabamba.
We stumbled in here at the Izhchaluma Hostel with no reservations…just a recommendation from our friend, Lenny in Cuenca. Some of the Facebook Expats had also recommended it. The best part is they had rooms for us and the place is gorgeous. Rene and Robin went with a room with a private bath and ours has a shared bath with two of them not more than eight feet from our room. In our area we have no neighbors. All our rooms have two beds in them: a twin and a double. We put our luggage on th twin and slept in the double. Two nice windows with screens open up for fresh air. I wish you were here. Pool. Bar with pool tables and ping pong, large dining hall, all open air, Yoga studio, free for residents, many trails some of whom we hope to traverse today. Directions on the trail map warn of being fully prepared for parts of the trail due to the nature of the country.
I quote: This part of the trail is only an option for the adventurous. easy to get lost or die crossing the river or the climb afterwards!! Don’t go alone.
No bridge. You have to walk through the water. Don’t intend if the river is high!!! After crossing, dangerous climb up through the forest. Be careful!!
If you haven’t found the right river crossing till 2Pm, go back the same way you came from!!
Each night after dinner we play a card game called Tick. do you know it? I’m not a fan of cards but this one is fun for me. Rene has won the last two nights and I was th biggest loser last night with almost 300 points. Perhaps a new record.
The birds are really going at it as I sit on the deck right outside number twelve. I’m looking forward to a nice hike today. Perhaps sitting by a river and enjoying the scenary. I’ll let Rene do the driving today.
Hey, I figured out how to download pics to my Facebook page so drop in there for some additional dialogue and of course, pictures. Off to try the shower and grab some breakfast.