After leaving the and stark beauty of Caja’s incredible lakes.We climbed up and down some massive mountains twisting through incredible valleys of rock, lemon grass and short pines growing on the side of the road .
These didn’t look like either the Alps or the rockies that I had visited on other trips, instead they had nebulous and tropical formations with stones strewn along the roadway with sheer drops into dark menacing spaces below us.As we made our way closer to Cuenca along the road were children holding wires to stop cars for caridad(charity) or in this case some money for the new year, we swerved between cars and buses on hairpin turns while the waft of fresh air came through the cars cabin window, we started to notice more people and villages as we approached Cuenca. The valley opened up to houses being built, there cement blocks supported by steel and bamboo, signs welcomed us and we decided to go for lunch at the Hotel Crespo. We came here on our first visit to Cuenca and had some great meals, mushroom and hearts of palm ceviche, which I have made at work and a classic mote pillo with some steak for breakfast. I remember some French tourist across from us looking at the plate and probably wondering why they were eating softic rolls of bread with butter!Our driver considered some chicken style restaurants, my brother-inlaw suggested cuy , we overuled and told him to ask directions to the hotel.The town is congested and we passed through streets where you could see Panama hats being made for in small independent stores for Chola Cuencanas.
Needless to say we were lost and the driver was given directions to and fro when I finally recognized a street and he looked for parking while we back tracked to the hotel. They had just finished lunch service so we decided to make it to the main square for something quick to eat, they close early here!
We found a restaurant, Raymipamba, it looked harmless and I quickly looked over the menu and decided on what my fellow travelers said I shouldn’t have, "plato tipica, I went against better judgement. "when in Rome" hmmmph! It was a mote pillo with sliced pork,vegetables and a potato cake. So we finished up our lunch and jumped into the car, made our way circuitously through neibohoods till we finally made it to the road south towards Loja.We had started about noon from Guayaquil and it was nearing 4 o’clock so we needed to make some time up after our lunch so we would make it there in and around another three and a half or four hours! There was some discussion about the route again and I was pretty full from the food, paying no attention I kept my eye’s on the trip wondering about our next destination.
We slowly creeped up and out of the city and were in some menacing terrain as well as very cloudy hills, my stomach started to growl, maybe from the four or five coffees I had put down this morning I thought? We kept climbing and the road was again full of rocks that had fallen off the surrounding mountains.The clouds were dropping down on the road and we followed behind trucks and cars when suddenly I clutched my stomach and started to feel a deep pain! We started to climb up another hill and I felt sweaty,"let me out!!" I should of said it in Spanish, I nudged my wife and told her I had an emergency," right now!" The driver handed me a box of kleenex and I assumed a precarious position next to some dried up bush which stabbed me as I knelt down and defiled the mountainside.Whew, I couldn’t of cared less that all the rest of the cars that drove by and looked, I had released whatever demon amoeba or whatever that fouled up my intestines. Later as we continued in the dark through even more treacherous roads, no lights and wet rain to boot! We stopped by a roadside village with about two or three huts and I was served overly sweet tea with lemongrass. At first I argued with my brother-inlaw to buy some bottled water. The driver and he concured that hot tea would be the cure all that would absolve me of this torture, I worried about amoebas and they said the water was boiled.Little consolation as I sipped this hot brew and my stomach did seem to cease having sharp pains.
We got back on the road and light of day had dissapeared long ago as we finally made our way slowly through Saraguro country. As the lights in the valley below indicated we arrived as well as signs of hostals along the hills before we entered Loja.
to be continued….