|Aleja at anchor|
The Drive To Tena
We stopped on the side of the road to buy some Guamas (you are a fool not to eat these every chance you get)
|Tracing the ancient lines|
We chartered a little boat to motor us up river to see how the deep jungle natives live in their authentic villages. When they heard the outboard motor approaching they changed out of their modern clothes and dressed in the non-sense grass skirts and coconut bras that tourists drool over. Falling so closely on the heels of such an over the top experience we had the day before this fake charade left us empty.
Life In The Andes
The color of my coffee changes with my altitude. When I’m at elevation I don’t add milk because I want it to stay hot. When I’m at sea level I add a lot because I want to cool it down. I drank it black in Quilatoa and white in Montanita.
Poverty: Where All Your Dreams Are On Layaway
Cold, wet, poor and hungry: I think that’s the definition of sheer misery. We saw lots of that driving through Ecuador and it wasn’t just the dogs. Hope dies last but without any way to improve your lot in life it’s got to be a cruel existence to be that destitute at such a high altitude.
There are locations on the planet that are inherently more dramatic than others. Consider the caldera of an extinct volcano at 12,800 feet (3,914 meters) above sea level which has been converted over the millennia into a lake.
Upon leaving Quilotoa I noticed a transmission leak. 8 words you’ll never hear in Latin America: “Sorry, you can’t work on your car here.” They work on their vehicles everywhere and it’s immediately accepted.
|My drooling transmission|
|Mark bought this woman flowers|
|Parked on a basketball court in a military compound|
What to say, what to say…I’m luke warm on Quito. I suppose it’s another huge dirty 3rd world Latin American capital. But it does have some charms. Try to avoid this formula: Quito+public transport+rush hour=nightmare
We actually went here 3 times and really enjoyed it all. Why? So much of an experience is dependent on the specifics.
The Quaint Villages of Ecuador
The natives are beautifully dressed and somewhere between 4 to 5 feet of height. You have to be sneaky when taking their picture. The Lowland Natives are sunburned and the Cloud Natives are wind-burned.
Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs
Q: “After a Latin puts a roof over their head, what is the next concern?”
A: “A soccer field.”
All the little mountain towns have graded flat spots so the kids can play soccer. It’s that important.
Tourist Trap Photo Op
It’s easy to subscribe to the gringo trail of Instagram pix. Line up, wait till the previous phony snaps their selfie, move into position, snap yours, step out of the way, let the next sham artist step into frame, and no one back home is any wiser. We’ve seen a lot of fantastic vistas but this place is completely packaged.
|Nicknack Tourist Crap|
|Combo restaurant shoe store. Shoes make great ladles|
We came down out of the Andes and meandered our way to the coast. Surf. Sun. Fun. Ecuador is a winner due to its dramatic geographical & climatic inventory in such close proximity to each other.
Founded in 1557 and resting at 8,200 feet of elevation, present day Cuenca is wonderful and waiting for your visit. Ancient Cuenca might be even more interesting. There is reason to believe it may be the most likely candidate for the fable of El Dorado – the lost city of gold that the Spanish so feverishly sought, but never found. It was originally built and inhabited by the Canari people around 500AD. The Inca defeated them in 1470 and built Pumapungo, a city to rival Cusco in Peru (and trust me, that is saying a lot!). However, it was demolished by the time the Spanish arrived with only tales of its golden magnificence left to tantalize.
|It's thought that when certain stars shined in the water|
in the rock holes that it was time to plant
We loved our time there and even rented an apartment to enjoy the city from a different perspective. The only downside was the horrendous air quality that has been tragically degraded by the city buses. We literally took to wearing face masks.
|Our friend and tour guide in Cuenca: Philip|
Menu of the Day
While elbow to elbow with strangers packed into a restaurant, the waitress asked a question, and the answer was “Poquito.” I started singing to the tune of the hit single Despacito; “Poquito Poquito“. And the mother of 2 sitting next to me immediately began dancing in her seat, caught herself, and everyone including her teenage daughters laughed out loud. Latins can’t control their urge to dance and the slightest spark can ignite a fire. I always thought “quick to laugh” was a reason to admire a culture, but maybe “quick to dance” should be included in the list.
A Quick Aleja Story
One time we were parked next to a plaza with a lot of horrible construction noise and I ask Alejandra, “What is that one awful noise? Do you hear it?” and she moved closer to the window and she looked, and she listened, and she carefully said, "Ah yes, it's a macheen"
“Oh really? Thanks. Thanks a million. I thought it was a volcano, or a very looong explosion, but now I can rest easy knowing..... It's a macheen”. If only I could package her brand of cute. Sometimes it’s the things you see, and sometimes it’s the people you see them with, and when they both align – oh happy days.
Your man on point,