On route to the Southern Andes we finally found a furgoneta(van) in Guayaquil, I wasn’t in the mood for the drive but what choice that or a whole weeks hotel bill, some more buffet food and most likely some really hot and humid weather!So we set out after a price was decided and haggled over, I sat looking out the window passing over the new bridge that passed over the rio Guayas heading east towards the mountains in the distance.At first our driver was sort of quiet and my brother-inlaw set into motion conversation as we passed by familiar landscapes of highway that was newly paved and lined with some trees, then we started to notice
Año Viejo along the roadside for sale, you could feel a real sense that the ritual this year was more important, especially in a sign along a mountain village I passed later down the trip where it loosley said "no more oligarchs for office";The election of the youngest and by most accounts the handsome Presidente Rafael Correa I think the hope for a better change was around here as well as most places in the world.As we followed the road out of the city I noticed the foothills starting to appear even near to bananeras and cocoa plantations that surrounded us, my brother-inlaw told me of the different types and grades of cocoa, he said that bananas were a losing crop because of the recent elections and tariffs with both the EU and us up north "gringos", so to compensate they put in cocoa as the new cash crop; shipping would also become an important future for the country when the port of Manta and Posorja close to Guyaquil would expand for trade in two years because of the possibility that ships could enter the port because of it deep water channels,perhaps superceding the Panama canal as the gateway for the Latin American trade with the rest of the Pacific.
The wrong turn to Cuenca
Ok so we had an itinerary sort of? The driver said he was taking a route to Cuenca that would be shorter to get to our first destination, Loja.My brothe-inlaw countered saying "no take the road that goes to Machala and we have a better ride and shorter!" He lost out we turned, I didn’t mind Cuenca is a pretty town, old colonial buildings and a river as well as some little villages surrounding nearby,Gualaseo being the one I visited on my last trip there.The trip was reasonably uneventful, but we did pass through some beautiful passes where we saw some incredible scenery and some llama! Keep your eye’s peeled for the llama in the windsheild that passes, or here is one we saw later!This was the caja nacional parque,
a beautiful place with lagoons full of trout and vistas that made me
wonder about how such majestic and treacherous land had been overtaken
by so few Spaniards and a few horses? The conquistadors who I had recently read about in a book about the Inca empire, made for some non-stop reading about both the culture of incas and the men from Extremadura who left behind language,architecture and a mixed race, mestizos, as well as a displaced indigenous
culture which is still in place and strong.
To be continued…….