Holed up in Quito

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June 23rd 2007
Published: August 9th 2007
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Things aren´t great at the moment. I´ve been puking up and more for the last two days. To cap things off my first night here I accidently checked into a love hotel, so had to put up with amorous noises all night to boot. I´ve moved now (a traumatic experience in itself when you have precisely 10 minutes between forced toilet visits). Still this afternoon things have come together a bit, I even managed a walk and sat out watching a practice session for some blues concert (how appropriate) going on in La Mariscal the heart of the new town here, so maybe tomorrow I´ll be back to normal.

I´m on an all liquid diet now, having made the mistake of a burger last night. Still thats not the worst thing in the world either - they do pretty tasty ice cream smoothies in a cafe i found near here.

So you may say I had all this bowel stuff coming to me since in the last few days since arrival in Ecuador I´ve been doing things as local as possible including my prime suspect a rather rushed ´merienda´ for $1.50, thats a soup and main for dinner, at Loja bus terminal before my night bus to Quito. But i suppose it could have been the water melon slice from the kid vendor, or the er deep fried frog and chips (ancas de rana i think it was called) I had in Zamora. Anyway, whichever it was my gut refused to let it in, and through that night on the bus I was troubled by an ever expanding stomach. Finally (and thankfully after i´d got off the bus and found a place to stay) the gut said no more, and forced everything back up (alas rather too suddenly for me to make it to my toilet). Yuk. Enough enough...

So back to the trip. After Vilcabamba I decided to visit on a whim the other side of the Podocarpus national park which lies pretty much in the Amazon basin. I now know for sure I don´t like rainforests. They´re wet and horrible places. It seems noone else does either as when I arrived (in the rain) at the park entrance there was precisely noone else there. Not even a token ranger (fear not they pitched up the next day mid morning to relieve me of my $10 entrance fee). So i spent the night, not in my tent, but in one of the huts they had there in a sleeping bag on the floor. The next day, it was really raining, and there really was not a lot to do except read a book under shelter (Brighton Rock, Graham Greene) and wonder where all the birds that the parks famous for were up to (cause there weren´t any in sight). After a bit, I ventured out with my unused Inca Trail poncho. Well it worked to a point, but I still got soaked. I gave up on the idea of exploring the park in the rain and read some more. It was then that the rangers turned up... ´oh, by the way the (only) road back up to Loja has been blocked by a landslide so it looks like you´ll be stuck in Zamora (the town closest to the park) for 5 months... in the rain´ they told me as they took my money. An off they went to hack some bushes.

Well eventually the rain did abait and I decided to venture up to the park mirador. A tough hike even in good conditions, but with trees dripping overhead and mud underfoot it was really hard work going up. The view at the top was pretty nice,,, strange mists swirling around tree clad slopes. Then down I came, and on my ass mainly - going down sheer tropical slopes in the wet is not pleasant. So this is where I got my first injury of the trip. I braced myself with my hands after a slip, and contrived to stab myself rather nastily on something. Well it didn´t go through my hand at least! But i was starting to silently curse the whole jungle expedition by this point.

Thankfully my taxi arrived to take me the 6km back to Zamora at the appointed time, and they´d managed to clear the roadblock. No five months in Zamora!

I´d decided in my mind to get to Quito quick and try to organise a trip to the Galapagos, so i skipped a lot of the middle of Ecuador. The bus actually went the long way round via the coast (down 2200m then up 2800m) because the whole highland road system seems to be down due to landslides thanks to the heavy rain. It´s not surprising when a) you see the steepness of the mountains, b) what they´re made of, c) how much land stripping has gone on for farming. I chatted with a lawyer next to me (spanish) and she told me that lawyers don´t get paid much in Ecuador. I told her I know a lawyer back home who gets paid far too much.

So that brings me to Quito. Think I´m going to take it easy for a few days, but there´s a chance if my bowels and hand recover I´ll do some mountain biking around Cotopaxi the 5800m volcano near here, and then do Galapagos for 4 days from friday (not much availability at all tho´). Then it´ll be on to Caracas, Venezuela!

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