Bonita Baeza and the day of accidental hitch hiking


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South America » Ecuador » East
December 13th 2015
Published: January 13th 2016
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Tuppence the Water carrierTuppence the Water carrierTuppence the Water carrier

Tuppence insisted she be allowed to carrier the water part of the way. About a 2km walk involving stairs
Part of me selfishly wants to keep Baeza a secret from you dear readers as I have fallen hopelessly in love with this place. I am sitting here wondering to myself whether “if I share this place will I lose something from it?” nevertheless I promised to blog and blog I shall maybe you will see why I so desperately want to keep Baeza for myself.

The bus ride there presented us with turn after turn of mindblowing scenery. The mountains rose up to meet the road as far below rivers pounded around seemingly every turn. Eventually around another corner and a small bridge we arrived in Baeza central. First stop for us was the convenience store, water on our thirsty minds. The owner was incredibly helpful offering to assist us with absolutely anything we needed both inside her shop and out. It was with her help that we were able to figure out how to find the hotel reccomended by lonely planet our guide book (we hadn’t booked ahead… I mention this now because this comes up again soon). Across a bridge over a rushing creek and up a mossy cobblestone path we wandered all the while admiring the
Cloud ForestCloud ForestCloud Forest

Baeza is where the Andes meet tropical climate, the result is spectacular.
lush greenery of the cloud forest meeting the Andes clean fresh air in our faces. Upon arriving at the reccomended hotel we discovered it empty of owner and all other life. After a brief search and wait of 10 minutes the owner of the hotel returned with several kayakers in tow. Apparently this time of year is high season for kayaking and there were no rooms available. Seeing my annoyanace with Tommy for not booking ahead as I had asked, the owner quickly offered the suggestion that Gina’s would most likely have something available and pointed us in that direction. Luckily Baeza is exactly the sort of town I like: small. It was right next door and Gina offered us a choice of four rooms at various, extremely reasonable prices. Problem solved in fantastic style. Tommy was right booking isn't always necessary.



We explored Baeza revelling in the cool greenery before enjoying a delicious meal at Gina’s before partaking in the apparently traditional first night shot of gratis tequila a gift of the owner. Gina’s husband’s wide grin widened further when he saw my face after my shot of tequila. The spicy, lingering kick of that drink
Humming Bird GardenHumming Bird GardenHumming Bird Garden

a lovely cafe in historic Baeza had grown a humming Bird garden. The essential ingredient are the humming bird feeders to attack the stars of the show. Almost to quick to capture digitally but mesmerising to observe.
indicated two things to me firstly that this was not tequila and secondly that it was most likely proudly home brewed by the aforementioned grinning barman. Delicious, spicy alcohol with the kick of a rather angry cow I highly reccomend it. Very soon after this we found our heads hitting the pillow falling into deep dreamless sleep.

Our next day was dedicated to exploring the region despite the light drizzle we ventured out towards a nearby waterfall. By the time we were halfway there the drizzle had become giant droplets of rain however this was warm rain and the day was beautiful with clouds lingering over the trees a preemptive christmas so we continued onwards. Our first waterfall (cascada) in Ecuador definitely did not disappoint. After snapping a wide variety of pictures we made our way back to Baeza where we walked to a junction in search of a bus to our next goal: San Rafael Falls. An interesting thing about many parts of Ecuador is that quite often the bus stops are not marked. Luckily locals are generally happy to point you in the right direction. We got very lucky this time finding a group of four locals
San Rafael CascadaSan Rafael CascadaSan Rafael Cascada

The photo is a poor representation of this mighty flow of water and it's many contributing smaller water falls beneath and around it.
sitting at some tables. We asked about the falls (more broken Spanish) and were assured that this was the place to wait. Conversation ensued before I saw a chicken sitting in a nearby van. I pointed it out and the lady I was speaking with and she jumped up and walked over to the van gesturing for me to follow. Thinking she was going to show us the chicken I happily went. Much to my surprise she was not simply showing the local poultry to a curious tourist but offering a us a lift. We had unwittingly been conversing with a family taking a brief break from their travels not waiting for a bus to arrive! Gladly we joined them in the van. Laughingly realising we had accidentally hitch-hiked! The only difficulty we had was communicating exactly where it was we were going. This problem was eventually solved through the use of a hastily drawn picture of a waterfall and several attempts at pronouncing the word "cascada"correctly (the Australian accent is a tricky one to get around) eventually understanding was achieved and we quickly ventured on our way. Our journey with this incredibly generous family passed without incident, sugar coated
Peligro tape IgnoredPeligro tape IgnoredPeligro tape Ignored

On route to the 1st waterfall Tuppence investigating the risk of venturing onto the rather old suspension bridge.
peanuts were shared and more conversation was had. We arrived at the entrance of the San Rafael falls profusely thanked the family and offered payment for petrol which was refused with a smile.

We walked down the path to the falls as butterflies danced around us to the sound of running water. The sound of rushing water intensified as we crossed a bridge and shortly after we reached the falls. The sight of which left us breathless with wonder. The water rushed over the falls crashing down in plumes creating diamond droplets and rainbows. The closer we looked the more entranced we became with the falls within falls. I wish there were words that could describe what it was like to be there as pictures can only show so much. We felt incredibly lucky to be there in that moment at that time because during our drive to the falls we saw the incredible feat of engineering further down the river, a hydroelectric dam. While marvelling at the beauty of the San Rafael Cascada our thoughts drifted towards this wondering whether they would remain this spectacular afer the dam's opening. We have no answer to this question. Only time
Excellent EngineeringExcellent EngineeringExcellent Engineering

Despite the moss growth, and the ancient apperence of the suspension bridge it held Tuppence easily. It has been decided that it is the slipperiness of the moss that had prompted the danger sign, or perhaps the path beyond the bridge was questionable. The answer is unknown as Tommy insisted we heed the warning and take a different path.
will tell. With great reluctance we began our walk back to the road hoping to catch a return bus. This is when our second hitch hiking moment occured. A car passed us by before pulling over to a somewhat speedy halt. The window rolled down a hand waved us over and a kind voice offered us a lift. After a little conversation we jumped into the car having established the direction and genuine character of the driver.

The ride back towards Baeza was enjoyable our new friend Hidalgo happily chatted to us the entire way not seeming to mind the occasional breaks where we frantically flicked through our language book for the correct phrase or moments when we asked him how to describe things correctly. Hidalgo made us feel like we were old friends. We remain thoroughly grateful to him for welcoming us and helping us out.

I believe that our experiences here will become travel highlights that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Our time in Baeza has solidified Ecuador in our minds as a place full of kind hearted welcoming people and mindblowing natural wonders.


Additional photos below
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Waterfall Waterfall
Waterfall

Despite the ever increasing slipperiness of the path due to the increasing stream of jungle rain droplets, we found the water fall.
Various Leaf sizesVarious Leaf sizes
Various Leaf sizes

It is interesting to wander how the different leaves benefit the plant they grow for. I would assume the lower the leaves are to the jungle floor the larger the leaves in order to absorb suffiencent light for photosynthesis. Perhaps the smaller leaves belong to moss related plants that require an extra boost and that compared their non-jungle counter parts these leaves are large.
Stairway to HeavenStairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven

Not entirely sure if the was once a house here. We decided it didn't matter.
Do not climbDo not climb
Do not climb

Tuppence interprets as do not climb over.


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