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ECUADOR | Tuesday, 30 May 2006 | Views [2267]

I have been in the Imbabura proivnce now for over a week (A week longer than expected!) and even though I am loving every mintute here I think that I have overstayed my welcome!

This week has been one of interesting adventures and new experiences... I climbed mountains, walked around lakes, attemped cycling in Ibarra which let me tell you is not a walk in the park, swam in steaming hot volcanic water baths deep in the mountains of chachimbiro at night, milked a cow, ate guinea pig, went to an Imbaburian farm wedding... A little bit of everything!

The highlight of the week though would have to be my "Advdventure" trips with Averlardo, my very irritating but lovely friend... I have nearly killed him on at least 2 occassions!

The first trip with on bicycle to this remote little waterfall in the middle of dense bloody rainforest... Whatever possessed him to recommend bringing bikes in the first place I do not know and thanks a lot to this Moncayos for not warning me first! My bike was made for someone about half my size (I felt like I was riding my tricycle that I got for my 3rd brithday), the "camino" (Not what I call a road but anyways...) was vertical the whole 4 hours there, not mention the fact that the road was made out of loose rocks and dirt and my bikes gears were malfunctioning... I ended up walking my bike almost the whole way there and the one time that I got on my bike to go down a hill, I flipped my bike (and still have the bruises all over my body to prove it!) After 4 hours of walking the bike and thinking that it couldn´t get any worse (and about to kill Averlardo!) the road went to a single file path. We left our bikes at a farm so that we could continue on our merry way and I thought that we were nearly there as I could see the waterfall on the distance from the path... After another hour of walking, the path disappeared and turned into thick rainforest, vines, mosquitos, the whole lot... After half an hour of walking through ice cold water, mud and cutting my way through vines, I cracked the shits big time and refused to go any further! So I actually never got to the waterfall! On the way back home things only got better... Averlardo insisted on not waiting on me (I must admitt that I was going at snail pace down hill on my bike as I had developed a complex after my last tummble down the hill) He passed a fork int he road, I went one way and he went the other... The way I took was steep downhill for about half an hour and it took my to get to the bottom of the hill to realize that I in fact did not recognize where I was... I was sooo tired that I could not face walking back up the hill the the bike to find Averlardo who could have been anywhere by then so I just asked locals for directions to get back home which I finally did a few hours later... Meanwhile Averlardo, I found out later was looking for me on the mountain for 3 hours, he showed up at home at 5pm, sooo angry that Olmedo had to tell him I was not there to stop him from killing me! He came around in the end though and had calmed down by the nest time I saw him... I guess that wanting to kill each other is mutual after all!

On my second trip to Lake Cuicocha with him on Saturday, I had learned my lesson! For starters I refused to take a bike (great move!), We got there at 8am and started out walk around the lake... It was up hill for the firt 2 hours of the walk and we were in thick cload and coul not see a thing... Once the clouds cleared the views were absolutely spectacular... The walk took a little over 4 hours and Averlardo had decided that he wanted to go cross country instead of walking on the designated path... I  was clever this time and refused in advance! A great day though and well worth the effort and the blisters on my toes.

Other highlights of the week included staying one night at the "Estalita" which is a guesthouse/bar/cafe in the mountains surrounding Ibarra... The Estalita is also a fully functional farm. The guy who runs it Carlos, was a friend from school of the family I am living with here in Ibarra and was really great to stay with as he knows a lot about everything. He took me to a farm wedding of his friends which was really intereting. The groom was 18 and the bride 16. The wedding was very modest for our standards, no wedding dress, just the best jeans that they both owned, after the papers were signed, we went back to their house were we were served "Cui" which is guinea pig... It is a delicacy here and I must say that it was actually quite tasty. In the night the mayor of Ibarra came to have a drink with his little fluseys hanging off each arm... It turns out that he is good friends with Carlos as Carlos was a photo journalist and the Mayor was a journalist and they used to work together. carlos and I got sloshed on ice cold vodka (Carlos had lived in Russia for 5 years and is a big fan of the stuff for everything) and played a lot of pool... In the morning we got up at 6am to go and milk Fanny the cow and then for breakfast we had coffee made from the fresh milk... I want to steal the cow to bring back home!!! The views from the Estalita are just breathtaking- You can see the whole of Ibarra from up there.

Well... The week has been swell but it is now time to move on to a new place... Imbabura is definitely a place worth coming back to though.

Tags: The Great Outdoors

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