Monday, June 14, 2010

I wasn’t Going To Blog, But...

I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t have time to blog this trip, since we only had  8 days in Cuenca, a relatively short time considering all that we needed to accomplish. Now that I am here I can’t help myself, there is so much to see and do, so much culture to take in that it just inspires me to write. Blogging is like my own personal journal that I can put my feelings and experiences into in a way that I could never express in spoken words.

This morning Rod and I woke up groggy eyed from our trip the day before and made our way down to the Hotel Mezzanine for breakfast. Our table was next to some very large windows and we were able to people watch as we ate. As I was watching out the window I noticed two hotel employees pushing a compact vehicle away from the hotel entrance. It had been paralleled park and I just assumed it wouldn’t start and they were pushing it out of the way. Well then I noticed them pushing a second car, it seems that people had parked their cars in front of the hotel lobby and the employees were just pushing the cars out of the way so as not to block the entrance. I wish I had my camera on me as this was quite a sight. Never block the hotel entrance in Ecuador as you may not find your car when you come out.

After breakfast we returned to our room to gather our things and went downstairs to wait on Carlos. He showed up right on time and it was so good to see his smiling face again. We knew we were in good hands now. This time instead of driving from Quito to Cuenca we were driving from Guayaquil (about a four hour drive). Just as the drive from Quito was absolutely breathtaking, so was the drive from Guayaquil. We started out on flat land with banana and sugar cane farms lining the sides of the road as far as the eye could see. This part of the country gets a lot of rain, so all of the houses were on stilts.

As we made our way up through the mountains we drove through the cloud forest. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of it. We drove up through the clouds until at the highest point we were above them. When you looked down over the side of the mountain all you could see was a field of clouds that looked more like hills covered in snow. The sky was the bluest I have ever seen. Carlos told us when the day is clear you can see all the way to the coastline.

There was a lot of road construction going on, but all in all the roads are excellent. There were a couple of times we had to stop and wait for oncoming traffic to pass, but never to terribly long, besides it gave us a chance to enjoy the scenery. Along the way we saw many houses perched on the cliffs, actually they were nothing more than a structure made out of mud and straw, but they had the million dollar view you could never afford in the states.

On one of our stops we noticed a tire that was going flat on Carlos’ SUV, so while we were waiting for the road workers to give us the go ahead Carlos had to change his tire. Apparently he had a flat tire on the way to pick us up and had stopped to have it repaired. Obviously they didn’t do a very good job.

Rod Supervises

At our highest point we were approximately 13,800 feet up. You could definitely feel the altitude. We crossed the Continental Divide and started making our way back down. We had to stop one more time to let traffic pass and Carlos pointed out a trail that he said leads to a village in the mountains. It takes five hours by foot one way to get up or down the trail. There were villagers on the trail with their horses and mules packed down with all the goods that the villagers bring to town to peddle. Carlos explained that they must make this trek several times a week. As we drove by I was really wishing we could have stopped for a photo as I saw a horse loaded with all kinds of packages and on the very top of the pile was a brand new toilet strapped to the horses back (too funny).

 Five Hour Trail

As we made our way into Cuenca we drove through the National Forest, absolutely breathtaking. There are 235 lakes in the National Park and every where you look there are waterfalls running off of the mountains. Carlos explained to us that the lakes are glacier made and when the glaciers moved over the mountains, the volcanic rock was so hard that the glaciers went over the tops instead of cutting through the mountains. The formations were absolutely beautiful.

We finally made it to Cuenca and the first order of business was to find a pharmacy and get Rod some antibiotics for his sinus infection. He was anxious to try the theory that you can walk into any pharmacy and get a prescription of antitbiotics without ever seeing a doctor. Well I’m happy to report it is true. I walked out with the same antibiotics Rod gets in the states minus the doctor visit. Of course this is bad news when we live here as Rod will never go to the doctor and will be making his own diagnosis all the time.

It is funny though that you can not buy cold medicine in Ecuador without a doctor’s prescription. We have decided that we will have to stock up on cold medicine in the States and bring it with us to Ecuador.

We arrived at our accommodations and were pleasantly surprised. We have a very nice room, almost more of an apartment. Extremely well kept, hot water (very important in Ecuador), Toilets that you can actually flush the toilet paper down, a kitchenette complete with microwave, tea kettle, herbal teas and a mini fridge. The room is very minimalist, but the owners thought of every detail. The hostel is owned by a lovely Australian couple that also have a coffee cafe downstairs. They have two rooms for rent, one up and one down. We are conveniently located to everything including the property. This may be our new favorite accommodation in Cuenca.

Our Kitchenette

View From Our Patio

 Courtyard Views



So here we are in this lovely city once again and I am in love with it all over again. There was some concern on my part that maybe I wouldn’t feel the same way about it on the second trip, as we all had our heads in the clouds the first time around. Everything was new and different and exciting and it still is, but somehow there is a familiarity now and a comfortable feeling that says we belong here.

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