BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for the '07) Crossing Ecuador Line' Category

« Home

Leticia & Pastora

Friday, October 14th, 2005

13 October 2005 (Thursday) – Vilcabamba, Ecuador to Piura, Peru

I could not see the two elderly ladies outside their house and I was afraid to wake them. So, I left it as it is, and headed towards the path to climb up Mandango.

Mandango is a unique-looking mountain that one could climb up in 1.5 hours. It was on private property, so we had to pass through a gate, pay an admission and fill up a form that asked us for our blood type. Blood type? Gee… why??

Anyway, the girl explained that it will take us 1 hour to reach the first cross and 30 minutes more to reach the second cross. I took about 45 minutes to reach the first cross. Wow, from there, I could see both sides of the sharp ridge! Amazing view of the valley of Vilcabamba and the green mountains all around. However, the way onwards to the second cross looked absolutely treacherous! No way anyone could do it in 30 minutes!

View of Vilcabamba on the hike up Mandango

The strangely-shaped peak of Mandango

I rested up here with a Canadian-Australian couple for about half an hour, chatting about our trips. They pressed on, but I was happy to go back. I am not an overachiever. It was more difficult to head down due to the steepness. By the time I reached the bottom, my legs were all shaky.

After lunch and a short rest on the hammock next to the swimming pool in my hotel, I headed out to town again, with half a mind to go for a massage.

I passed the house of the elderly ladies again and this time, one of them called out to me. She invited me in. Her name is Leticia, she is 76 years old. She asked me where I was this morning, as she was waiting for me. Oops, I explained that as I did not see them, I did not dare to disturb them, thinking they were resting. Anyway, the other elderly lady is her sister, Pastora and she lives in the house behind. She popped over and waved ‘hola’.

To my surprise, before I could ask about her family, she started telling me her story. She has 10 children but few of them give her money and they do not visit her either. So, she said she is really poor and lonely. What, 10 children!! Some are engineers, teachers, army officers, doctors… Yet, she has hardly any money to buy anything to eat.

I sat with her for perhaps 1.5 hours, listening to her stories, looking through her photographs. As she showed them to me or recounted her tales, she was wiping her tears away. At the end, I suggested that we go to a shop nearby and let me buy her something to eat… maybe, rice or whatever. She thought for a while… “¿Carne?” (Meat?), she softly requested and I nodded my head. Her sad little eyes lighted up and she hastened to comb her hair to get herself ready to go to the shop.

When we returned with meat and platanos (huge green bananas), I could tell she was obviously very happy, as she mumbled to herself that today, she would have something special to eat. She tried her best to offer something to me in return. I refused, but she searched her near-empty refrigerator and insisted on offering me one of her two apples. Alright. Anyway, as I was leaving tonight, I promised her I would pass by and visit her again tonight.

By the time I reached the town centre, the idea of a massage did not appeal to me anymore. I felt really sad for her. But what else could I do? This was the least I could do… my company, listening ear and some food for her to eat.

That evening, I had my entire backpack with me when I passed by her house. Both she and Pastora were absolutely delighted at the sight of me, proclaiming that they sat here waiting for me in order not to miss me this time. They thought I was moving in to stay with them! I explained to them that no, I was leaving tonight for Peru.

They took me to the kitchen and started preparing dinner. Oh, the meat I bought just now, they now wanted to invite me for dinner. Gosh, how sweet they are! Again, I could not say ‘no’. I felt bad, for they had very little with them, and yet they really wanted to do this for me.

Leticia preparing dinner

I left Ecuador with the sweetest of memories…

Valley of Longevity

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

12 October 2005 (Wednesday) – Vilcabamba, Ecuador

I woke up and looked out at the view from my room’s balcony… Wow, lovely mountains and a grazing horse, no less. For US$5 a night, with breakfast included, this hotel is really great. And I really think I am alone here, away from all the gringo (Caucasian foreigners) tourists. There is even a swimming pool with strangely green water. Well, Vilcabamba is known as the ‘valley of longevity’. Apparently, it is rumoured that due to the mineral water, tranquil atmosphere and other magical properties of this village, many of the locals live to more than 100 years old. So, perhaps, this strange green water is IT! I gingerly swam a few laps, but it was too cold to stay in there for long.

View from my room

The town centre was sleepy and absolutely peaceful. There just seemed a very nice, relaxed atmosphere here.

I saw a sign for massage, facial and hair treatment. Well, now with my glowing aura, perhaps I should give a glow, or at least TRY to give a glow to my physical self. I decided to have a facial and hair treatment. I was slathered with wholemeal oaty gooey gunk on my face and my hair, aloe vera everything. After nearly an hour, I was released, hopefully, looking as good as new.

Rene had previously lived here in the Vilcabamba mountains. He gave me a mission – to look up his friend, Carlos. There was a little vague direction provided. I saw a boy sitting outside a house and asked him for Carlos. It is his father. What luck. However, Carlos had gone to Loja and would be back tonight. So, I said I would drop by later.

As I had my lunch, a baby and a 3 year-old boy playing nearby, kept staring at me. They looked dumbfounded, stupefied. I smiled, made faces and goo-goo noises but was not able to elicit any responses from them. They just stared. Was it my aura, glowing face or have I left my tiara on my head by mistake?

I walked around the tiny centre and later took a little path and headed off, passing several cafes and hotels that were done up in a style obviously catered for gringos. I guess this is the non-peak season now, but I can certainly imagine the appeal of Vilcabamba. There is something magical about it, I feel. So far in Ecuador, I had stuck to the mountains and the people up in the moutains tend to be more reserved and shy. But here in Vilcabamba, people were bouncing ‘holas’ (hellos) and ‘buenas tardes’ (good afternoon) off me, and smiling merrily. Wow, what a difference! I really feel there is something magic here.

By nightfall, I visited Carlos’ house again, and this time, he was home. He invited me in for a chat. Funnily, he told me that around noon, he sensed something… something to do with Tamara and Rene. So, from Loja, he gave Tamara a call, asking her if she and Rene had something to tell him. Tamara briefly told them a lady from Singapore is here in Vilcabamba and would pay him a visit. Wow, he SENSED it. And around noon was the time when I first found his son outside his house. Anyway, after a short pleasant chat, I left as I did not want to disturb his sons who were doing their homework.

On the way back from dinner, I passed by a house with 2 elderly ladies. They greeted me, and when they noticed I had Oriental features, they yelped in delight and beckoned me over. So, wow, I had a nice little chat with them as well. They told me to visit them tomorrow.

Chakra, Balanced

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005
11 October 2005 (Tuesday) - Cuenca to Vilcabamba, Ecuador My second Reiki session today was very different. Rene placed crystals on all my 7 chakra points. Then, I basically just lay there as he passed on his energies to ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Colour of Your Aura

Wednesday, October 12th, 2005
10 October 2005 (Monday) - Cuenca, Ecuador Rene is a Reiki therapist. Actually, Rene has the natural gifts of healing. Even when he was a child, he was healing animals and plants with his energy. He is a very special ... [Continue reading this entry]

More Movies

Monday, October 10th, 2005
9 October 2005 (Sunday) - Cuenca, Ecuador As expected, today being a Sunday, nearly all the shops except for the pirate CDs shops and some shops run by Chinese proprietors, were closed. After a walk around, and getting a chance to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Primero En Mi Corazon

Monday, October 10th, 2005
8 October 2005 (Saturday) - Cuenca to Ingapirca to Cuenca, Ecuador Ingapirca is a Cañar-Incan ruin about 2.5 hours away from Cuenca. The Cañars had previously built their site here, using rocks brought in from the rivers. The rocks by ... [Continue reading this entry]

Shrunken Heads, Anyone?

Saturday, October 8th, 2005
7 October 2005 (Friday) - Cuenca, Ecuador I headed to the Museo Banco Central of Cuenca after coffee with Juan at Cafe Austria. The admission fee of US$3, at first, appeared to be a little too high for me as the archaeological ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pirates of the Andean

Saturday, October 8th, 2005
6 October 2005 (Thursday) - Cuenca, Ecuador Juan is a professor of the university and by luck, this week, classes were off and so, he had some free time to show me around. We passed by a photocopying shop to pick ... [Continue reading this entry]

Nariz del Diablo

Thursday, October 6th, 2005
5 October 2005 (Wednesday) - Riobamba to Cuenca, Ecuador The reason that many tourists come to Riobamba is to take the touristy train called Nariz del Diablo that leaves from Riobamba three times a week. The train system in Ecuador, to ... [Continue reading this entry]

All Roads Lead to Riobamba

Thursday, October 6th, 2005
4 October 2005 (Tuesday) - Baños to Riobamba, Ecuador All roads lead to Riobamba... so claimed Riobamba, which is in the heart of Ecuador. The route from Baños to Riobamba was described as 'closed' in my ancient guidebook due to ... [Continue reading this entry]