Sunday, October 30, 2011

Birthday Trip Part 2 - The Road Home

After a good nights sleep we headed for Cuenca via the road to Paute on which we came.  When we got a few miles up the road out of Mendez we came to a line of trucks stopped and the road closed.  I asked the fellow in the hard hat how much longer and he said until about 3 PM!  This was 10 AM.  Jack says we are not sitting in this sun and humidity for 5 hours even if we are at the head of the line.  Famous last words, "there must be another way".  Out comes the map and we decied to head for Gualaquiza, it's only 124 km south and then over the Andes to we turn around and head down the mountain and then south. 

Part of the way is great new concrete road . . . which suddenly truns to dirt, and then back to new road.

When we reach Gualaquiza we turn on the GPS and it tells us to turn around and head back the way we came . . hum, turns out it was set to avoid dirt roads....Shawn figures out how to change the preferences but only after I hire a cab to show us the road to SigSig.  We climb out of the valley into the most breath taking scenery we have encountered in Ecuador thus far..

Night begins to fall and we are still climbing the Andes on a single lane dirt road.

We saw a waterfall that must be close to 2000 feet high but the picture did not turn out well so I guess we have to go again!

Anyway night fell, we entered the clouds and the rain and still we climbed the Andes!  At one point we were going 5 to 10 km/hr with Shawn hanging out the window to keep us on the road!!!

To make a long story short, it took us 12 hours to get home instead of the 6 it took to get there but the reward was seeing parts of Ecuador that were fabulous. We are so thankful for all-wheel drive!!!

We had a great vist with our kids and look forward to their return.  It was the best birthday present!

The drive to Guayaquil was peaceful and the wildlife came out to say "Hasta LaVista" in a grand way.

Thanks for following....Chau for now!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Birthday Trip!

It is hard to believe it is the end of October. Life has been it's usual chaos, Jacks blood clot returned so he has been taking nightly shots which has left him more tired than usual. I can't even remember the month of September, but October has been a blast. I will probably break the month up just for ease of telling the story!
October 1st our youngest son, Shawn and his wife, Amy, arrived for a 10 day visit. This was my 60th birthday gift!  We drove to Guayaquil and stayed at the Continental Hotel which was quite nice and had a HUGE breakfast buffet included. Of course their flight was delayed by 2 hours in Panama so they arrived at about 2 AM but then that's not unusual. Sorry no pictures of the arrival but I will explain later. After the huge breakfast we drove over the Andes to Cuenca. The llamas in the Cajas were quite obliging. Our dear friends Noshy and company had stayed with the dogs over night and had a lovely typical Ecuadorian dinner waiting for us.
The next day we headed out to see the sights of Cuenca. First stop was the San Francisco Market. Jack stayed in the car while we wandered around. I left my bag in the car . . . well you probably guessed it but Jack fell asleep with the windows down and someone reached in and stole my bag with my purse, camera, Jacks blood sugar meter, etc., while he snored! Thus no arrival pictures, pictures of the iguanas in the park in Guayaquil, or llamas in the Cajas!!!!
Needless to say our plans for tourism quickly changed. I dashed home to make all the requisite phone calls to credit card and debit card companies while Jack and the kids had lunch and bought me a new camera. Our afternoon plan went unchanged and we headed to Hosteria Duran in Banos.

We enjoyed the hot pool and tried to relax. It is a lovely place! Just before dinner we realized the blood glucose meter was in my purse so I dashed back to Cuenca as I thought we had an old one and some tabs. Found one and enough tabs to get through the night and on the way back to Banos a miracle happened. I got a call from a lady who said she had my BAG! We arranged a meeting and sure enough, it was my bag and the credit cards were still in it! The camera, meter, $10, and my clip-on dark glasses and case were the only thing missing!
After a lazy morning we headed in to town and did a driving tour, met Gary and Sue Gaither for almuerso at La Molienda on Honorato Vasquez, great food, and $2.50 each. Guess Sue took the picture!

That afternoon Shawn and I had massages, Amy soaked in the pool, and Jack napped.

We arose early, and headed for our jungle adventure near Macas in the Oriente. Noshy made reservations at Casa Blanca in Macas and they recommended a guide for a day trip into the Shuar region of the jungle. The drive over was full of breath taking views and the expected dirt roads. The shortest way is via Limon but that road is still closed so we routed through Paute and Mendez.

Typical road work, this time from a slide

Lots of horses on the way

Views and more views

Orchids along the road

Future butterfly in Macas

Church of the Virgin of Macas
We stayed at the Casa Blanca, very nice folks, even a pool. Rooms are basic but we would stay again for $15-19 per person including breakfast.

The next morning Daniel Ayui (086144264) meet us at the hotel and off to the jungle in a taxi. We had our botas (rubber boots) with us, a day packs with water, insect repellant, and rain ponchos. Daniel was a great guide. He is Shuar, lives in the jungle with his wife and 11 children. As we walked through he stopped and told us about the medicinal values of various plans. He understands some English and speaks Spanish and Shuar. Even with my limited Spanish he did great job and he was able to share about his love of his jungle, his lifestyle, and his earnest desire to protect the jungle.
Heading into the jungle with Daniel

A hut built by Daniel to house guests that want to stay more than a day 
Beauty in the Jungle

While lunch cooked we hiked more

And swang on vines

Inside the Tree of the Ancestors

After lunch a canoe ride

The river

Daniel and two of his children after performing a traditional dance for us at the end of the trip

This trip home story to follow!!!! Thanks for reading!!!!