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Mat and Vendy's travels


ECUADOR | Saturday, 19 July 2008 | Views [1656]

us and llamas

us and llamas

We knew the journey to Cuenca was going to be long, expecting to be on the bus for 8 hours, so when Diuego suggested getting a private bus, we jumped at the chance.

Things didnt start too well as one of the girls in our group got drunk the night before and lost her bag with her passport and other vital things in it. This meant that Diego and some other had to go back to the bar, and he called all his friends to help find it but in the end she had to go to the police station and fill out a report. She had a choice here as we had only 2 days left in Ecuador - and she chose the second, to stay behind with her friend, and then go back to Quito on Monday to get a replacement passport (if it wasnt found). It must be horrible for them both, but I think all of us learnt a lesson from it.

We finally got on the road after nine o'clock and the countryside around us was amazing. I was enthralled for the whole journey. We didn't have time for lunch so we stopped at a petrol station and got some biscuits and chocolate and stuff. Nice and healthy! We also saw lots of indigenous people and strange/new things.

The roads were pretty bad, and at one stage we had to stop behind a truck while they fixed the road after a JCB had damaged it! That took about 30 minutes and to our surprise, even here in the middle of nowhere and on a mountain road, there were people selling snacks and drinks!

Luckily this was the last major setback and we finally arrived at our hotel at about 6.30pm. The hotel was amazing, it looked unchanged from the Colonial era, and was called the Colonial. Set in the historic centre of Cuenca it was fabulous!

We only had a day in Cuenca, so we made the most of it by first going to the Cajas National Park for a hike at high altitude - and most of us didnt feel too bad, though getting breathless quickly and feeling lightheaded. It was a simialr altitude to the hike we´ll do later at Machu Picchu and we all agreed that if thats as bad as it gets, that is ok. It was beautiful there, and the weather was lovely too.

When we finished walking, we had to wait a while for a bus and when it came it was like a posh coach, with a seperate compartment for the driver and his helper. It was full and the man told us we´d have to stand. As the seven of us piled in, he turned and said to Vendy ´You, sit here´and gestured to his seat. Then he turned to me and said ýou, sit here´and gestured to a step next to the driver! So he stood and talked to Vendy and me in English all the way back to the city, while the others stood in the main part of the bus. His english was good and he´d lived in America for some years so had a lot to say. During the journey we saw a police road stop, and it stopped the car in front, which was a pick'up truck with the tailgate missing and in the back was a five year old laying down, a baby asleep and a large bunch of about 100 bananas! The policeman looked around the truck and didn't bat an eyelid at the strange cargo! Vendy and I laughed, and the man laughed too, telling us it is normal here. ´You can do what you want with your car!´ We´ve noticed, was all we could reply.

In the afternoon we went to the Panama Hat factory, as they are actually from Ecuador! A little known fact! After that we walked around this beautiful town. They have two cathedrals here - an old one and a new one but strangley enough the older one looks like the new one! In the evening we went out for dinner.

Though short, a very productive visit, and probably another day would be too much.


Tags: cajas national park, panama hat

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