Published: July 27th 2012July 27th 2012
Day 9: Chugchilan to Saquisili/Latacunga:
Well, we managed to wake up at 2:15am, gather our stuff and head to the bus "station" (actually, no station, just where the busses park overnight) for the supposedly 3am bus to Saquisili. Arriving at like 2:40, we waited and we waited, but nobody showed up until 3:15, and they were locals arriving for the 3:30am bus! Oh well, live and learn. Soon after 3:30, the driver showed up and we all got on board. The first part of the trip was very slow, since the roads were bad and it was still totally dark, not to mention the 15 or so times we stopped to pick someone up. Actually, I lost count of the stops about 30 minutes into the 3 hour trip. The road got a bit better and the driver picked speed, which wasn't so great, on high mountain roads with shear dropoffs and total darkness. At least we couldn't see the dropoffs. We went thru a couple of other villages before we reached Saquisili soon after sunrise, about 6:30am. Not being sure just where we should get off, I noticed a sign for the animal market at our first stop in
town and so we decided to check it out. Unfortunately, we couldn't get any photos to show you because it was so crowded and chaotic we were afraid to take out the camera. Picture a couple of narrow dirt roads converging on a field, filled to capacity with all manner of trucks (mostly pickup types) trying to manuever there way in, with literally hundreds of pigs, sheep, cows and llamas all around the edges and often in the road. That should be almost as good as a photo. There was one point where a very large pig was fighting with his owner to stay in the road while trucks tried to get by. After walking thru the area, we asked and found out that the rest of the market was a couple of blocks further down the street. The regular clothing, foods, and handicraft market was as impressive as I'd expected, but it was still pretty cool to see. Manoli took one photo from the little restaurant where we had coffee and eggs, since again we didn't feel comfortable walking around flashing a big expensive camera. We browsed thru a good portion of the market and decided we'd go ahead
La Mama Negra
La Mama Negra where we ate our 2nd Chugchucaras
and take the bus to Latacunga. I think we almost gave the conductor's helper a heart attack when I gave him a twenty dollar bill for our 60 cent fare (thats combined). He finally got our change when we got off in Latacunga, which consisted of a ten dollar bill and a giant handfull of change.
Since we'd been in the Latacunga terminal before, we had no problem finding our way to the hostal. Because we showed up so early, something like 9:30, we had to wait a while for the previous guests to leave and the staff to clean up our room. When we finally got into the room, we left our bags and headed out to stroll around Latacunga. We returned to the room about 1pm and Manoli watched a movie on NetFlix while the old man took a nap. We'd already decided we'd have a late, big lunch and just nibble some of our cheese, fruit, and other stuff later for dinner. After having read the rave reviews of Restaurant Mama Negra and their chugchucaras, we decided to try that same plate there. I admit the place was pretty cool looking, but the dish wasn't as
tasty as the one we'd eaten when we got to Latacunga before. I think the place then was called Chugchucaras Don Rocito or something similar. The hominy was as good, but everything else fell short, especially the pork skins. The ones at Mama Negra were pretty tasteless, while those we ate at Don Rocito's were very tasty. Anyways, after another stroll to settle our stomachs and pick up some snacks and drinks, we returned to the hostal to watch a movie or two before bed.
Tomorrow, we head to Banos via Ambato. Since the buses to Ambato run every 10 or 20 minutes, we won't have to get up early or rush to the terminal. The Quilotoa Loop was really cool and interesting, but also very cold and windy. We both wish now that we'd gone ahead and done the trek from Quilotoa to Chugchilan after hearing all the good reports from folks who did it. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20. See ya in Banos!