Down in the Jungle, staying in a hut

All your cares in the World gone kaput. Well apart from how to get anything dry again.

Fast buses in Quito have dedicated  lanes that whisk  you through the rush hour traffic and all for 9p. The coach down from Quito had been uneventful apart from a quickly repaired landslip that is best forgotten.

The views of the river slashing through the hillside are dramatic.

The hostal is on a hillside overlooking the town surrounded by forest and a cacophony of insects once the sun has gone. Run by a German and longtime resident who also has a project in the Jungle where I have been for three days. An hour in a car and an hour walking to get there. Genuinely isolated and cleansingly simple. No electricity, water from the mountain river, no “signal”. Wooden huts on stilts. He takes students as interns to help maintain the estate of about twenty hectares of raw forest. The guide, Ramiro, is a kichwa who speaks spanish and is also a shaman.

  A group of Canadians – french and english- turned up from a long march and made a lot of noise. Ramiro had found big fat beetle larvae that got them all jostling as to who would handle or eat them. Not sure they have ever seen “I’m a celebrity”. Fish baked in banana leaves,fried yucca, salad- and chopped up grubs that had been fried. Some coffee them were eaten with declarations of deliciousness! At 68 you no longer have to prove stuff like eating weird food.

“At this point I left the hammock I was swinging in, two empty beers on the table, to go into town to eat. Fine, had another good meal in same place, got back and packed ready for Riobamba in the morning.

Morning saw complete gutwrenching panic. Tablet hadn’t charged overnight and had 17% power. Cable at reception the same. Plugged camera in and it worked which was odd. The prospect of no Hudl was unnerving. No guidebook, no communication, no news. No access to booking ahead if needed. Wasted trip to Mall merely confirmed it wasn’t the cable. Do I get April to post the spare micro USB port sitting on my desk? And where to? Continuous feeling of nausea particularly as it had been so easy getting a battery charger for the camera.”

Last night I left it plugged in- no logic just irrational hope it might get better. It had turned off so had to restart it. Red light back on, 85% !! I was ecstatic and furious all at the same time. So no hunt along the street of computers for someone to fit a new port. And the cafe for breakfast was excellent. So return to semblance of sanity.

Had an illuminating conversation with my neighbour on the coach. Working for organisation certifying fair trade products all over the country. Coffee cocoa quinoa. Confirmed stories about farmers selling all the quinoa and buying junk food. Big problem is educating them about keeping some back but the money is persuasive.

He was worried about getting to Riobamba in time to play for his daughter’s fathers football team. They were in the semifinals.

Libertador hotel is cosy, clean, warm and decorated in thirties colonial style. Station is outside my window. Booking office, museum but no longer any trains except at weekends. Until last May there was a Tren del Quinoa that ran to Alausi but ” there were (unspecified) problems”.

Anyway I now have my ticket for  Nez de Diablo on Thursday. Apparently not for the squeamish. They banned people riding on the roof after a couple of Japanese fell off. Suppose it makes a change from the selfie trip back over the cliff.

More to follow.

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    • Reply

    Sounds good so far…. Any wildlife?

    • Reply

    If in doubt, reboot! Sometimes you need to ‘restore factory settings’ — it just happened to a friend’s iPad. My phone does it sometimes. No reason, I know the battery is charged, but it just goes dead. When I eventually get it to reboot it will come back with full battery. It’s frustrating if I’m out somewhere and need to use it but it must be unnerving if you’re in the middle of nowhere as you were! I can understand the panic.

    • Reply

    Photos of the train ride would be great !

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