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Published: December 7th 2009
After our great day in Misahualli, although the jungle was not in our comfort zone, we , along with Stephanie, decided that we wanted to experience a bit more of the jungle, but this time something that was a bit more challenging, something that was not just put on as a tourist show. After exploring a few tour operators in Baños, we found one that did specialized trips into the deeper jungle. We had to go with a tour operator as to go this far into the jungle you have to obtain written permission from the chief of the tribes you wish to pass through. The guide we were using was related to the tribe we wanted to visit so he was able to gain that permisson easily for us, but as he was the only one that could take us on the start of the journey (a flight in a small aircraft into a jungle village with landing strip) we had to wait 2 days for him to lead us into the jungle. We decided to check what Ecuador has to offer on the chocolate front.
We took a bus to Riobamba where we saw perhaps the most indeginous
market up till now just next to the bus terminal for fares to the Oriente. From there we head to another bus terminal from where there are the buses to Quito and took another bus to Guaranda. There, we thought we would find amazing mud buildings as Lonely planet guide suggested, but nada. After a poor lunch we head to the iTur office and met a local who kindly advised us to continue straight to Salinas, our planned destination. We rushed to the last bus as the tourist office told us but but we had missed it, happily we found that there is a ‘caminata’ - drivers who go there offer a taxi service for the price of a bus. After five hours journey two busses and a taxi we finally arrived to this tiny isolated village 3300m above sea level. The village is roughly three streets and a square where the boys played football or vollyball. It has a chocolate factory, a cheese factory, a football manufacturing workshop and is known for its salami production (but we didn´t find any information about a salami factory) and of course it’s production of salt, this is where it’s name comes from.
After settling in the small hostel - though basic the fire they put for us was a highlight - we rushed to the chocolate factory and learnt its products and got a courtesy taste of what is an Ecuadorian chocolate - it is good! We shopped for some Chocolate, bread, salami, coke for me and wine for the girls and set a nice humble supper in front of the lovely fire to the sound of popping flames and the smell of burning wood that spread a nice rural ambience in a shivering cold night hoping for a dry morning.
Morning came with sun that was perfect for a a little walk in the ‘baby canyon’which resembled a swiss landscape, as Stephanie confirmed. At noon, after a great morning we headed back to Guaranda as we had another five hours journey back to Baños. For me and Liz the journey to Guaranda was unforgetable as we were squeezed into the rear of the pick-up truck with some local indians and their babies, grass, milk and machetes. The faces, the looks we got, the smells, the bumping of the car and of course the squeeze will be a special memory for
life. Later on the bus journey back to Baños we had another unforgettable experience, our journey took us past and around mount Chimborazo, it was awe inspiring to see, and we were lucky enough that the cloud which was covering the top when we first spotted it, started to lift and we were rewarded with mount Chimborazo in its full splendor, with the sun sparkling off the snow.
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