12.04.2013 - 15.04.2013
Shortly after the last blog ended, the stomach cramps began. It is not a topic to dwell on, but suffice it to say we had a long journey that was strenuous for both the driver and passenger. We made it within shootin' distance of the Ecuador border, and ventured into the metropolis of Las Lomas, Perú to find a place to spend the night. All I wanted was a bed and a toilet. Despite the receptionist having the personality of a fence post, we found a decent room. One problem: the toilet tank filled at the speed of a drip. This is not good news for someone who is exploding. I promise, that's the last of the gory details.
Douglas supplied me with Gatorade and love.
After a great night's sleep, I was feeling better. We took the dogs for the walk around the town square. We felt a little like Hispanics in Arizona. A lot of stares, at both us and at the dogs. Douglas mentioned he heard a lot of whistles when he was walking around the night before. There are different kinds of whistles in Latin America. The expected, innocent ones at women, which I have become almost oblivious to. But there are others, the long whistles back and forth between several dudes, that generally mean, "gringos in town in a big expensive Jeep." We have read accounts of folks who hear whistles, primarily at night, shortly before they are attacked and/or robbed. Needless to say, we take notice when we hear them.
So . . . packed up and drove to the outskirts of town and found a place for breakfast. What a world of difference a few blocks made! The folks were happy to see us, they loved the dogs, and they fixed a great breakfast. I got some eggs and rice down.
We drove to the La Tina/Macará frontera. I can confidently say, this was the easiest, most laid back, fastest border crossing we have experienced. Yay!
We were then in the mountains of Ecuador, immediately gaining elevation. A lot of elevation. Arriving in the town of Loja at 6889 feet, we found a funky hotel. Threadbare carpets, satiny bedspreads, soft mattresses. The staff was terrific, though. The town was surprisingly quiet for a Saturday night, but we found a little bohemian joint with good tunes and beer and wine. Yes, I could drink wine at this point.
On our way to Cuenca, we stopped in the village of Saraguro, which means "land of corn." The Saraguro people are readily identifiable by their dress: wide-brimmed, white hats spotted under the brim for women, and knee-length black shorts for the men, who sport a single long braid down their backs. We got a lot of curious-but-friendly stares. It was market day, with beautiful flowers and vegetables, goose eggs and fresh queso displayed, and multiple pigs hanging, ready to be cut as requested.
And finally, Cuenca. This is a beautiful city at 8300 feet. Interesting old buildings, cobblestone streets, gorgeous flower markets. We are happily splurging, pampering ourselves in a cushy hotel with plasma TV (to watch the Masters Finals), and strong WiFi.
And now, off to check out a brewpub.