For all its (mostly spurious) claims for firsts of this and that, it’s a rather dirty rundown place. The streets are dirty, the shops mostly scruffy and very little evidence of municipal care. Every single church is kept locked following a spate of anti-religious attacks last year. The man in the Cathedral stone museum was vague as to the motives. Abusive priests?
Bamboo is very big for scaffolding. This reminded me of India.
Cars sound their horn at the least reason- it does attract the attention of the driver on his phone at the lights.
On the subject of cars, anyone who wants to make a killing selling Volkswagen Beetles should come to Ecuador. They are more common than Morris Minors, some pimped some perfect, some rough.
It has rained for three days on and off. Day 2 here I headed off out towards Chimborazo hoping for a break in the weather. It was briefly sunny, enough to catch my forehead but otherwise low cloud covered the upper slopes. An initial bright spot was the llama museum in a village rejoicing in the name of Palacio Real. I learned a lot about llamas and alpacas and vicunas. They are Gods’s gift to man: food; clothing; manure; transport. Watch the ears for mood, and the tail. The urine is an abortifacient. They can breed across species. All that didn’t stop the Incas sacrificing a thousand at a time to appease the gods and replenish the earth.
Women were sowing seed broadcast and men following with enormous mattocks. When one saw me she came over and we chatted about crops country, weather and villages nearby. She was curious and happy to stop for a few moments. I’d cut myself a stick after having nearly been bitten by a dog in Tena. They are everywhere, roaming wild in the streets or out with owners of whom they take no notice. I’d already had to shake it at several nasty specimens, mostly small.
There never was a break in the clouds over Chimborazo. On reflection my day on Cotopaxi was blessed by the weather.
Having trudged up into the village recommended by the sower, found nothing of note and started to retrace my steps, an old boy in a pickup and his wife offered me a lift. He had a house in the village and another being built in town that he wanted to check on. As we came within sight of Riobamba he swung off the road down a dirt track. A bit like coming into Exmouth down Raddenstile a hundred years ago. We saw his house- four walls no roof, work in progress – and carried on till we suddenly came out on the ring road. He ended up dropping me a hundred yards from the hotel!
For a strongly Catholic country you see a lot of young couples in public holding hands kissing, being intimate. Doubt that this would apply to same sex couples.
Got to the bus station a bit early and found myself being thrust into a busy additional was pulling out. Meant my big bag stayed with me on the bus. Inter city buses stop like they were a local service wherever anyone wants to get on or off.
Driving through wide valleys of lush fields with all kinds of crops, beans peas, maize, potatoes, onions. No seasons, you see them all in different stages of growth.
Bus pulls into Alausi 10 metres from the hotel. Perfect.