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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/Isinlivi

Monday, 14 July 2008

This is an absolutely lovely place with warm people and beautiful scenery so don´t get me wrong if I seem to focus on the small annoyances. As an over-50 I like some adventure but I miss my creature comforts too!

Our two lovely college aged `hosts´(volunteers in exchange for room and board) were supposed to get up for the 3 AM bus to Latacunga last night/this morning. Their alarm didn´t go off so we were awakened first by a bus horn tooting, then dogs barking, and finally the conductor was banging on the door. That woke the girls but they couldn´t figure out who would be at the door in the middle of the night and were afraid to go see, so John got up to answer the door for them. He happened to already be fully dressed because our bedding was too hot for him and he had moved to one of the empty single beds (we chose the semi-private double up in the loft since we had the place to ourselves). We also had the hostal´s friendly cat sleeping with us under the covers. The girls couldn´t get it together enough to make that bus, so they caught one later in the day.

Dinner last night was excellent but meals are extra and prices are naturally higher in such a remote area than we´re used to in the city. This morning we had some yogurt and granola we brought with us, before starting out for the Monday market at Guantualo. This is advertised as a three and a half hour loop hike, but ended up taking us three hours just to get to the market. It starts out with a short downhill to a river, and then a gradual ascent to a small village. But from there to the final ridge was too much for me and it was a real struggle to get there without throwing up. I can´t hike anything remotely steep even at low altitudes, so this was especially tough being up at around 3,000 meters. John took my little Chivas daypack and even my fanny pack to lighten my load, and then he paced me by taking slow steps one at a time.

We enjoyed the market which is not set up for tourists but is truly a local event. We bought some fruit and one of the very few handcrafts for sale, and then had almuerzo - soup, rice, lentils, and hold the hunks of pork please - and got an ice cream cone to-go for a different downhill route to a road where we caught a ride in a passing truck. The return trip in the back of the very dusty pickup was free and it only took an hour for us to get back to Isinlivi! As awful as it was at the time, I´m so glad we did it. The experience itself was like nothing we´ve ever done before, the scenery was beautiful, and it saved us from making a big mistake by setting out to hike to Chugchilan. Needless to say we´ve canceled the horse and guide and will get a ride in a truck ($10) to Sigchos in the morning and bus it from there.

We showered and relaxed in preparation for the 18 or so new hikers arriving this afternoon. It will be strange to go from having the place all to ourselves to having a full house, but we´re looking forward to the company.

Linda and John