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ECUADOR   13-28/9 1997  DIARY  3

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Diary 1 2 3         Translate

 From Diary 2 we find our way back towards Quito.
22. After breakfast and bath we go back through the city up to the cathedral, and scouts for Sangay. There will be smoke and steam once in a while, but then the clouds obscured the volcano. Jesper being seated to get a good photo, when the clouds occasionally release their grip, I go down to buy anti-ich to my mosquito-ridden legs and a writing pad. Also a 400 ASA film and food and drink to the long bus ride. Like elsewhere, there are some dogs. They are very different, but all friendly.

In front of the cathedral square is one big concert, close to the pain threshold. The cicadas are so numerous and so indifferent that it does not give any problems to take close-ups of five centimetre large insects. I have heard them on almost all my travels, trying to locate them, but now I finally succeeded.

We followed a market down to behind the terminal. Mainly raw and finished food and things peasants may need. The bus are full, good thing we bought a ticket last night.
We start at the relatively flat terrain; Amazonas, then moving south, through Le Oriente. Everything is green, but there are no large trees, they must have been cut. During the afternoon, we get up to the mountains. The enormous slopes are completely covered by jungle. There is, in contrast to yesterday, individual villages.

We make a break into one. I see a small flock of golden squirrel-monkeys in the trees in the river delta, Jesper see some monkeys in treetops along the road later. It begins to be felt in the body;, the bus is built for people on 1.40. I sit down, but keep the head in the ceiling. Others appear on the toes to reach it. The road is a one-track dirt road which holes only are beaten by the standing stones.

The temperature begins to fall, we reached a plateau. Low shrubs and plants otherwise only know from the Mexican plateau. As we approach Cuenca, after 11 hours of driving, some oncoming traffic can be seen. There are some buses where there are only 3 rows of seats, the rest is open platform.

We arrive to Cuenca in the deep night, but find a hotel and a restaurant. We get "Lobo", but says neither oink, muuh or maee. What is the sound of a lama? The night is spend with cat and civil war. At least, that is what it sounds like through my earplugs. The next morning, the only visible trace are on Jesper’s face.

23. We get a taxi to the opposite end of town. Here we see one of the local markets. Mainly knitting in cubic meters, also shoes and bags. Local uses modern backpacks are so do the Indians. We see the new and the old cathedral. Impressive big and beautiful. All road surface in the centre is under renovation, so it is a car-free city.
We find to another market. Cut flowers and pot plants, most familiar species. It seems everyone can read, even shoe polisher is more busy with the daily newspaper, than to lure customers. Has been like this throughout the country. We continue past the photo-hardware-book and shoe stores, and find to a market with pottery and all kinds grass knitting. Bowls, piggy bank, flower pots, jars. The many markets are a Tuesday event. The larger cities have one or two market days, where the surrounding peasants come to town.

A covered market offers meat, vegetables, cereals and ready meals. We see it all, even the rusty and spider web overgrown tripod with fresh meat. On the other hand, he tries only to sell it at the slaughter days, not 14 days after, as in Denmark. The city's general commercial districts, we see, as in many other cities, specialized stores: Eggs and eggs only, or bananas solo. Other stores have everything from feeding bottles to stretchers bouquets.

So we walk towards the terminal to catch the special bus for 9.00-Incapirca. While there will be time for coffee and breakfast. Hot water / milk and liquid coffee concentrate, with some small white floating objects. It get drunken, but not with the joy we had hoped for. We get a couple of buns, and pay less than 1€ combined.

The trip goes through large soft hills with grazing. Some fences consisting solely of cargo tires as fencing poles. Cattle are 99% black spotted dairy cows. Some Indian hump-oxen and some brown beef-cattle. We reach Incapirca, an Inca complex from 10 to 16. century in 3160 meters altitude. Most of the large constructions consist only of a half meter high wall, but the central sun temple is quite intact - or restored. In addition, there are baths, squares, corn stocks and remnants of past civilizations: Cuencanas.

We see a lot of different small birds in the mature thistles surrounding the plant. As elsewhere else, llamas are used to keep the grass down. Deep in the valley below, a bitch is playing with her two half grown puppies in the high grass. On the ground next to, the farmers are digging up potatoes. The whole family in their colourful local dresses. Between them, horses, chickens, cows and a few pigs are running free around.

We are just off the steep slope behind solar temple. Here we find pottery, even with colour designs. We sit in the last sun and eat the picnic, while thunder echoes in removing mountains. Down at the entrance, I find a car that can drive us down to Tambo in about an hour. It gives us time to explore the small museum and get a cup of coffee and a pollo burger. The place is obviously a tourist place, and we see the first tourists since we said goodbye to the French in Puyo. Local school children are in large surplus.

Both here and everywhere, even in large cities, there is an odd mix of clothes. Some Western, other typical "Peruvian".
We drive to Tambo along with two Germans who, like us, intend to travel by rail from Alausi to Guayaquil, a trip which is highly praised for mountain lovers. We stand freezing on a corner, from which bus to Alausi is said to pass. No one knows when. I summarizes the meaning of that local pigs are hairy as puddles. If they were naked as those in the lowlands, they would freeze just like us. It starts to rain; we are in the middle of cloud and wind changes constantly. There comes a bus, I stopped it and asked, if it runs for Alausi. Nix - Guayaquil. 1 ½ second of hesitation, and we leave the Germans in the increasing rain. We have seen mountains, and there is something about the temperature in the lowlands along the coast, which draws. As Jesper says "Add water, and you get instant planning". We can then take the mountain railroad in the opposite direction. There are no seats for us, but fortunately it is the first bus with high ceilings.

The small fields of the mountain presents can be glimpse through the fog, forests are replaced with vertical mountain sides, as we begin the descent from the plateau. Then there are large plains with banana, sugar cane and a few coffee plantations. The temperature rises from 12-15 to 30-35 C, and we passes large fields, which may have been corn and grain and a few giant dairy farms. It is a bit of a strange feeling to fall asleep, sitting in the middle of a cold bus, and wake up in a sauna!

Gradually, the changing the landscape transfers into a sump. Giant silk heron and giant halcyon, small ox herons, falcons, cormorants and - well - birds in general. In the channels beside the road, there is a wide range of floating plants, and I note with satisfaction that the pigs are naked.

We reach a watercourse - in a few kilometres - across. Behind it is seen Guayaquil sky-line in stark contrast to the primitive stilts huts that were in the last paragraph of the marsh. We go through the giant terminal to eat soup and frying. We learn that the aforementioned trains departing from a suburb, which can be reached with a ferry. Unfortunate, the daily trains depart at 6:30, just before the first ferry visiting!. So the mountain trail is abandon by us. Too much time and effort to take a train for an hour, and then bringing us up in the heights with its coldness. We choose instead to continue north, up through the tropical coastal land.

To the centre to find a hotel, and down to the quayside to see (a fjord) of the Pacific. We walk along the promenade where there are many statues and memorials. Of greater interest to me are 10 toads in a truck light glass, with water. They appear to thrive well in the otherwise arid landscape. On the way back to the hotel, we pass a lot of closed shops. Quite sad, as they are closed with metal shutters. Street traders, however, is still active, sweets, tobacco and a few newspapers. There is a bold smell from various eateries: Chinese, KFC, Dunking Donuts, Pinquin, McDonald and the local.
Go for a beer / water on a promenade, causing a lot of attention, but we are after all the only tourists, since we left the bemused Germans in Tambo.

24. It works perfectly fine for us, with one exception: It is embarrassing to admit, but we feel a certain pleasure when it is originally Nescafe that come on the table, and not the usual coffee bean powder. We take a taxi to the terminal and buy a ticket for a bus, that leaves in about 6 minutes. Are guided up to 3 floor, and off we go! At the ticket, it says that we get 2,000,000 for death or disability - in Sucres. This corresponds to 200€!

Back across the river and through the vast marsh land, this time to the north. Many variants of cormorant and heron. Large eagles and magpies and some halcyon and pigeons.
After a while, it begin to thin out in paddy fields of the marsh, they are replaced by banana plantations, as the landscape rises - a few meters. We run 10-15 kilometres through a banana plantation, just to get to the next. Then some starts to grow corn, and some cattle, which are feed exclusively by bananas.

We pass a few major cities; we are delayed in one of a small fire on the road. I suspect the street traders! The terrain rises slightly, the temperature drops a bit, and we meet citrus plantations. We arrive in Quevedo at noon. A couple of cooks, which embargen in the past - with their carriers, cluck gently, dust waves around us, and there is a lively activity around us . We see the local carnival, markets and street traders. Find the Emtel-house, and send confirmation fax to Avianca. Get something to eat and drink, and just get to jump on a express buss to Sants Domingo de los Colorado.

When we cross a river, I see clearly a large green iguanas in width. They are said to keep close to people; stupid, as they taste as good. Now we meet some pineapple, soy, corn and coconut among banana plantations. Among are also large trees, which must bear some fruit.

Santa Domingo terminal is outside the city, so we take a taxi into the city. Huge vibrant area which we walks in for 4 hours. Large, but not new, there is not any chrome / glass buildings. All buildings can be constructed in the last century; they apparently just to be from one of them before. In front of most stores, there are street traders with stalls. Between these, there are other traders around. I buy a roasted cob smeared with sauce and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Really delicious and filling. There are several covered markets. Grains, vegetables, meat, hardware, shoes, shoes, shoes, bags and things in general.

I've been looking for a money belt ever since Jesper bought one in London. Instead, I  find a wide nylon band, ½ m wide zipper, some Velcro-lock and a tailor. 4 acts, 3 € and I have the belt I wanted. I see some big beautiful cocks somewhere. Looking behind the cages, they are in, and there are some  4-5 meter long pythons.

It becomes dark, and we find a restaurant, unfortunately without snakes. Now it's time for a taxi to the terminal. While we're waiting for departure, I get my boots polished. Around 50-100 (shoe polishers) have pointed out the need for it, the last few days. A 12 centimetre large grasshopper comes noisy flying over the range of holding buses, pretty impressive.

3 ½-hour night brings us to the capital Quito. Another day without any other tourists, than the one that always follows me. He refuses to take the off the backpack, he is afraid to fall on his face. We find a really nice and cosy hotel for the last 3 nights (we have not spent enough money, according to plan).

25. Today, when we really should have gone home, we begin our exploration of Quito. The first sight is - a breakfast bar. So we walk through the new tourism business centre (see even 5 tourists). The shops have beautiful handmade items from the province. Colourful, charming, rustic and woollen. We come Avianca office and re-re-confirm our return. In neighbouring shop, we find little code locks to the backpack. Not that we have felt the need, but it is nice to be able to "seal" ones luggage, and even without a key.

Going through a large park with plenty of enjoyment options for the many children laughing and playing. We reach the first of today's markets. Plastic-covered stalls with the usual mixture of gas appliances, toothpaste, sweaters, towels, bags, fish, flat keys, tomatoes, clocks, shampoo, corn, umbrellas, newspapers, shoes, sewing thread, fishing nets, porcelain figurines, plastic bins, onions, girlie, cow thongs, fried bananas, sunglasses, shopping, hammocks, dishes with hot pig snouts and ferrets (then known as its oink), aluminium pots, grain, cameras, spices, cut flowers, cosmetics, ponchos, oil cans, cola, candy, chicken, rubber mats, dishwashing brushes, cakes, fried chicken, safety pins, ribbons, mirrors, roasted corn, beans, apples, cigarettes, eggs, mouth peace for horses, curve merge, oranges, lighting and saddles. Between the different markets, there are general shopping streets, where they have all that the markets don’t provide.

A market is recycled. Car parts, tools, computer scraps, clothing, shoes and a large amount of suspicious new auto radios without wrapping. We head down a long twisted street with renovated typical colonial houses. It starts to rain and we get a sudden taste for coffee. Just nearby is Casa de Sucre. He was a great freedom-general who has put the name on their currency. (4 Sucres = 1 Italian lira!). His typical Spanish courtyard with four building gallery is furnished with old furniture, and quite interesting.

It starts to rain again, and we are entering a covered market. We see the market, it rains steadily and there is no cafe. There is a barber, so I will just get a close cut and a really old-fashioned shave. It is still raining, so we move on, and get an Inca Kola. The weather and the smell from the chicks in barbecue, convinces us that it is dinner time. Afterwards, we take a taxi home to the cosy hotel. Exciting days with many terrific visions.

 26. Last whole day. Quito offers of course many attractions as most other capitals, but we are quite discerning. Near the hotel is a vivarium, recently opened, mainly with local animals. We look at the shops on the way over. Inside we get the pamphlet in English with a brief description of the animal's life. The premises are really nice decorated. Lacquered wooden and ternaries frames. Inside each terrarium there is a reasonably good reproduction of the animals' natural habitat. Over all, even with the swamp turtles, they are clean. Beautiful and exciting exhibition, but there could have been a few more amphibians and reptiles, snakes are less to my taste.

Then we walk to the university museum. Someone rich fellow has donated his collection of archaeological and religious objects. Unfortunately, the archaeological are only his own digging around. It is mainly religious paintings and statues from 14-1900. Wood flooring is polished and we are being suffocated.

We continue slightly dizzy to Museo del Banco Central. An impressive building: Huge curved plate glass building in 3 floors, a tent-like structure on top and an integrated granite block building beside it. Within it is even more impressive. Hyper modern display, with texts in sanded glass, perfect halogen lighting, very stylish. We start with the Big Bang and ending with abstract art. In between, there is the earth and human development in plate form. Then Ecuador archaeological history showed in stone, pottery, art, mummy and giant terrariums, where whole valleys are restored to the smallest detail.

On display number 70, I am getting a slightly sore back. They forgot to put benches between the different ages. Following the chronological / geographical analysis of clay and stone coming precious metals department. Enormous amount to the most amazing "Inca" gold work. The oldest stone tools are 10,000 years old, clay work 4000 and the oldest gold 2500 years. Inca has been in Ecuador from 1460-1535! They came straight over and then got the spank of Spanish concocters . Then follows a collection of furniture, clothing and religious things from the Spaniels. We reach the present day, represented by paintings and sculptures.

It started to rain while we studied archaeology, so we just take a cup of coffee and a sandwich, to see whether it is a shower. It is not, and we take a taxi home to rest my back. The rain stops, and we run down to the old town, with all its markets. Personally, I can spend forever in those markets, but darkness comes creeping between the pompous buildings from last century. The shops are closing, the street traders and their stalls are packed away, and with huge mountains of pots or knitting, the stumble home.

We find a lomo restaurant and take the very tasty meal, while we look at the colourful local population urgency over, now back in the rain wet pavements. Cicadas begin their ancient song of the hollow trees in front of the cathedral. Further down, on this historical place’s worn cobblestone peddle, beautiful virgins offers the most fragrant flowers. Oops - we try again: Local people urgently curvilinear bent over in their too-thin western clothes, only very few have an umbrella. Smog thickens into new dimensions as 3 buses gases dramatically up, to get first at the next red traffic lights. The all too many modern alarms will get their hauling yelling on every street corner, and from a dark alley shouts a 2 meter tall negro woman (?!) with the rough voice "Fucky, fucky?" after us. Pissing rain and it’s getting cold. No, it is not true either. It is impossible to describe the mood that prevails in a foreign country. It depends entirely on how you choose to experience it.
It starts to rain again, and we drive home and packs our backpacks, get served coffee in the living room and talk until late at night.

27. It is early morning; we leave the hotel and catch a taxi 2 meters from the door. Drive through the totally extinct city to the airport. We are there early, because we (quite rightly) do not rely entirely on our reservation. It succeeds, however, to get away. We'll stop in Colombia to get a decent cup of coffee. The airport is not new but hyper-modern and fantastic clean and well maintained. There is a fairly large range of products and we get the 5-6 hours to go.

I’m sitting next to a Swede in the aircraft. He was one day late in Paris, because there was fire in a wheel at take-off. The day after, one of the engine cut out on the Avianca flight, so they got yet one more night in Paris. He complains that he received only chicken for 14 days and lightens, up when Jesper and I pills foil on some cow. He sounds strange, when he pills metal foil of his chicken leg! He never travels by Avianca again.
The sun goes down vertically in the clouds, and 5 hours later, it returns fast.

28. Next stop is the Charles de Gaul airport in Paris. I opted for a Paris Toast, but can only get cheap American hot dog. Bread, flaccid sausage, mustard and ketchup. I look at 10 cockroaches at once, in one of the airport's two restaurants. The shops are few and dull, few places take Visa, U.S. $ can be used few places but they gives back in France. The airport is totally worn out and dirty and grubby immense. Signposting poor, prospects of the Eiffel Tower gone in the smog and light to the toilet does not work, nor doors. 5-6 hours in CDG is a long time!

Last flight is with SAS, and it works fine. We are indeed fortunate that there is a queue at CPH, so we get an exceptionally beautiful tour around over Zealand. Lolland, Falster, Hornsherreded, Odden and Fyns outline is evident. The nearly completed bridge over the Great Belt in the smallest detail. It is not the last time I go to South America. Nature is exciting, people-friendly and helpful and pleasant climate.

Expenses:  9500 kr ~ 1270€

Backpack 4000 grams:
Toilet bag: Deo, toothbrush, toothpaste, detergent, 2 extra batteries, Swiss knife, Clock, with a compass, 2 extra film, copies of passport and tickets. Pillbox Head / stomach pills, mini shaving, ear-plugs, drying cords, malaria pills.
On me / the bag: Photo apparatus, money belt, bottle holder, code lock.
Documents: Health insurance, vaccinations, passport, ticket, pen, money, visa, Visa.
Clothes: 6 socks, 3 underwear, 2 T-shirts, 1 shorts, 1 bags, laundry bins, lamp, raincoat, sweater, Lonely Planet.

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