Sunday, March 12, 2006

¡Saludos desde Latacunga, Ecuador!

I didn't really intend to blog during my trip because, well, I didn´t just fly thousands of miles to sit in front of a computer. But it's raining and we are in a town that, on Sundays at least, is so dead we had to go to the cemetery to have some fun. It's a seriously cool cemetery, though. They do cemeteries right in most Latin American countries, unlike in the US (With the exception of New Orleans). At any rate, we considered ourselves lucky to find an internet cafe that was open--not an easy feat.

Anywho, so maybe I should tell you something about our trip ... There´s too much to tell. My favorite part was the Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve. We had gone there just for a day last year, and I loved it, so we went back and spent two nights. I could have easily spent two nights more, but we're on a bit of a budget. One fun thing was that we had the same driver who took us up there last year (transportation is included in the price), so I had several hours of Spanish practice. We shared the ride with a couple from Pennsylvania who were avid geocachers, and they wanted to stop at the Puluahua Crater on the way up to try to find a cache that was supposed to be there. It was a fun hunt, even though we never found the cache. Even Jorge, the driver, got in on the hunt and was very disappointed when we decided to admit defeat and quit (there had been a fire on the hillside and we suspected that the cache had burned). The not fun part of the trip was that a landslide, which is almost a daily occurrence during the rainy season, had blocked the road. So the driver said he'd take our luggage around the long, difficult back route while we walked the rest of the way to the lodge, which he thought would take us half an hour. He was using Ecadorean time, which means you should at least triple it to get an accurate idea of how long something will take. While at Bellavista we met a wonderfully fun woman from South Africa (via London) and she joined us for wacky hijinks and making fun of the serious birdwatchers.

After the cloud forest we went back to Quito, stayed the night and then took a bus to the town of Baños, where we spent three days. The highlight was a 5-hour hike on a trail through the mountains above the city. We never saw their volcano, Tungurahua, because it was obscured by clouds.

So here we are in Latacunga ... we only came here today because we want to go on to Chugchilán, a tiny town that takes 4 hours to get to from here (mostly because the roads are so bad--on the map it's quite close) and we didn't want to have to do the whole stretch in one day. The highlight of the day was when we glimpsed the Volcano Cotopaxi--usually it is clouded over this time of year. But because it's Sunday, there is no place to eat that's open, except for a few places where on can get some guinea pig or tongue soup. I think the main reason I became a vegetarian was so I could say "Oh, no tongue soup for me, thank you, I'm a vegetarian." Fortunately, there is lots of vegetarian food to be had at our hostel in Chugchilán. I think tonight we'll find a little grocery and buy some bread or something for dinner and watch TV all evening.

Apparently the trip to Chugchilán is exciting, whith the bus getting stuck a lot and the passengers all piling out to watch the efforts to unstick it. I can´t wait--it will be sooo much more exciting that Latacunga! There will be photos--more than you can imagine--of the whole trip on Flickr in a week. Or so.

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