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Vilcabamba, Ecuador

ECUADOR | Saturday, 21 September 2013 | Views [451]

From Galapagos we flew back to Guayaquil and just missed the direct bus to Loja. Rather than stay in sin city again we opted to head back to Cuenca instead. The elderly lady at Posada Todos Santos was as surprised and happy to see us as last time. We have abandoned the idea of booking ahead as it's easier to pull out of a grim place and mostly we have not been that organised!  

This little place is amazing and very highly recommended by us for being very quiet, in a great location, very friendly and incredibly helpful despite us having limited Spanish and them having no English.  Actually most places have no English so we are picking up very useful words on the way.  I use very simple language and Damian uses the correct grammar but we are understood about the same. I do add some very useful actions into my attempts though which makes all the difference!!!

After a great night's sleep and a lovely hot shower we caught yet another early bus, this time to Loja and then on to Vilcabamba from there.

Vilcabamba is really pretty, but it was the dry season so not enough flowers for Damian.  We stayed in a bungalow at Rumi Wilco, another really nice ecolodge well out of town. This was the first place where the sky at night was stunning with the Milkyway very clear.  Damian's knowledge of the southern hemisphere's sky is very poor. I am used to him showing me loads of different constellations and all I got was the southern star from an Austrian girl.

We went to Parque Nacional Podocarpus for the day while there, did the 3hr hike which was stunning, but took 6hrs and involved rock scrambling over the crest of the mountain and much moaning from me.  Damian stayed just out of earshot for most of the second half apparently.

Best bit was after the first climb we arrived at the Mirador (viewing point) only to find an elderly Ecuadorian pop star (they are all old pop stars here) miming with great emotion to his camera team.  We have a photo and did quite a lot of giggling as we went past, trying to be quiet.  

Craziest bit of the journey was leaving the park, 3hrs later than planned.  By the time we walked down to the entrance gate it was early dusk.  20mins later a bus finally passed.  We hailed it down and forced our way on.  This is not an overstatement as I had to sit on the Drivers dashboard and Damian just managed to squeeze onto the bottom step by the door.  There must have been well over 100 people on the bus.  Problem is everyone lives in the countyside and the bus stops constantly on these short journeys, so people would force themsleves to the front and Damian would fall out as the door swung open before stopping.  Bus driver made a fortune on that journey.

We only stayed 4 nights here then on to Peru.  Great fajitas in the restaurant on the corner of the main square at Vilcabamba.  

On the second to last night there were loads of loud bangs coming from the town so we wandered in to find a festival possibly about cows.  The main square was blaring out the usual highly up to date 1980s and Ecuadorian folk music (probably by the guy on the mountain) and fireworks went off shortly after.  The best fireworks were on the paper cow, which trotted around the square, courtesy of a man inside moving the contraption.  You have to imagine the scene, massive sparklers were attached to the paper body along with shooting rockets from its back.  Not really got to grips with health and safety standards in Ecuador yet.  

Another early start for the 6.30am bus to Peru.



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