Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oh, The Pre-First Solo Trip

1985. Ecuador.

I studied in Ecuador and Peru the summer of 1985. I made a few forays out on my own. An excerpt from my trip journal on one such journey:
Wednesday, Aug 7

…. Writing in a bus again, this time to go to the ruins near Cuenca called Inga Pirca.

… arrived in Cuenca after 5:00 this morning from Macas. The trip went fast and on the bus we had: a meowing cat in a bag, squeaking guinea pigs in a sak, a squawking chicken riding on top, the ubiquitous lumpy white sacks in the aisle, and we plowed through the night to the strains of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  …

I’m not sure where or what I’m going to do after going to Inga Pirca. I might spend the night in Cuenca, or I might just hop a bus again to Riobamba. At some point I need to take a shower, though, and wash my hair. I also need desperately to get to a casa de cambio to change some money.

Later – I am in a hotel room in a small town called Canar. It is a hole; but at least it’s a bed that looks fairly clean. The bathroom, if you can call it that, is the pits. I don’t know how I’m going to take a shower and/or wash my hair. Actually, a shower is impossible, as there is no shower.

Inga Pirca. Photo courtesy of Cayambe
Anyway, I went to the town of Tambo, where I was then to catch a camioneta to the ruins. After some waiting around, I finally got up to the ruins by way of a truck with a tall and deep wooden bed. It was like climbing onto a very tall horse to get in. The ride was spectacular – a 9 km bounce up the mountain. I loved it. The ruins were very interesting – an old castle built by the supposed last Incan. Not as extensive (quite small) or as meticulously constructed as Macchu Picchu, but very picturesque. What really attracted me were the people and the scenery. My gosh, the people were so friendly … While waiting in a nearby village, 2 boys raced up the road on their horses, laughing and urging the animals on. It was great. In Tambo, before I left for the ruins, 4 little girls attached themselves to me and we had an exciting little conversation. They were so shy and giggly. One of the questions they asked was whether I had a kitchen.

I think Tambo and the ruins with its bordering village is probably the best place I’ve been in Ecuador. I’m so glad I decided to go!

At about 4:00 or so, the camioneta returned to pick up passengers and I was among a group of schoolchildren who had spent the day there. They shared candy with me, and on the way back, they sang songs on the truck. It was so bitter cold with the wind whipping and the mist covering chill above us – but how exhilarating and enjoyable the ride was!

On the way, we picked up another gringo – a guy from England. It turned out we were in similar circumstances – short on cash – and we hitchhiked to Canar. It was raining a little, and we had walked at least halfway, when a small camioneta picked us up …

The bank in Canar was closed, so the British guy (still don’t know his name) showed me his hotel and offered to lend me the money til we get to Banos. He said there’s definitely a place to change money there. So he’s given me 500 sucres til tomorrow. The hotel room I’m in costs 150 sucres. Cheapest so far – all the way around....

A note about Riobamba - my host family "mother" was originally from Riobamba. My host family "father" said that everyone in Ecuador joked about people from Riobamba. I wonder if that's still true.

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