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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Latacunga to Isinlivi

Video (this may be slow to load): http://picasaweb.google.com/svnakia/LatacungaToIsinlivi/photo#5227828575436196898

13 July 2008
Sunday morning

It was a hard night´s sleep last night - hard beds that is. Harder than the Quevedo beds even. We couldn´t coax any hot water out of the tap painted red this morning so we walked down to Hostal/Cafe Tiana for breakfast. $2.25pp got us two huge flaky buns with butter and jam, strong coffee, juice (a passion fruit and tree tomato combination - very tasty), and two eggs. I got a kitten fix with their sleepy calico, and we got some very informative travel advice from Katrien. In fact, after walking around discussing our options, we returned to Tiana to firm up a new plan. Katrien called ahead to reserve a room for us at Hostal Llullu Llama in Isinlivi (http://www.llullullama.com/), and we´ll take the 1 PM direct bus on Vivero this afternoon. The idea is to stay two nights there so we can acclimate, take a short hike to the Guantualo market tomorrow, then take a guide with a horse ($20) to tote our luggage and hike five hours to Chugchilan on Tuesday. I´m a bit skeptical that we´ll be up to that, but on paper it sounds like a wonderful adventure! We can always bail and take a truck/bus if it turns out to be too much for us.

We managed to eke out enough hot water for showers when we got back to our room, and now we´re in the bus terminal waiting to buy our tickets. We hope to spend the week exploring the Quilotoa Loop before heading back to Latacunga on Thursday and then up to Otavalo on Friday for the Saturday market there.

Sunday evening before dinner

The ticket window for Vivero never opened up! We waited over an hour and a half and when the bus arrived we bought our tickets from the conductor ($1.80pp). We departed promptly at 1 PM for the two and a half hour trip up and over a mountain. This route took us through Saquisili, Toacazo, and then SW over a mountain pass to Isinlivi (not around the NW way via Sigchos). This was another amazing ride through steep sided cultivated fields and pastures. We climbed up into the cloud cover and broke out just before summiting. But almost as soon as we started the descent we were back in an almost total white out for the rest of the trip. This made it kind of tough to know when to get off the bus, but the conductor booted us out at the end of the line half a block from Llullu Llama.

The hostal is a charming rustic house with a few small private rooms downstairs and a dorm style loft upstairs. There´s a living room with wood stove, and indoor showers and a composting toilet outside around a corner of the house. The clouds lifted enough for us to walk... [and here´s where the electricity went out, so we had a candlelit dinner and retired early to bed].

Linda and John