My primary reason for traveling to this out-of-the-way spot was to get a glimpse of a landscape called paramo. The paramo's defining feature appears to be the ubiquity of an odd furry plant called the frailejone. El Angel was as close as I could get to the Reserva Ecologia El Angel by bus, but that still left me about 17 km short. I'd read that one could hitch a ride with the local lechero (milkman) on his morning route, but that would take me to the opposite end of the park form where I wanted to be, so that was out. I considered attempting to hitch a ride with a local, but was wise to reconsider as I didn't end up seeing a single vehicle on the entire route (unless you count horses). So I reluctantly hired a cab to drive me up the rocky, washed out road, wait for a few hours, and drive me back. The guidebook said such a trip should cost $25 to $30, so I was happy to have talked him down to $20. My driver, Ocscar, ended up hiking the trail to Laguna El Voladero with me and explaining a bit more about the land as we went. It was a good oportunity to work on my Espanol. I was surprised at how well I was able to handle my end of the conversation, although much of that is due to Oscar's patience, and I have a long way to go.
El Angel itself was pretty ordinary. A few restaurants, a few panaderias (bakeries), two internet cafes, one disproprtionately large church, and a small video arcade! Speaking of restaurants, almuerzos (set lunches) are turning out to be both a great deal (less than $2 for a huge amount of food), and sources of adventure in themselves. A typical one includes soup, rice, meat, a token quantity of vegetable, and juice. I was a bit surprised with the soup with my second almuerzo in El Angel as it contained chicken's feet. Like, the whole things. I did't attempt to eat them though as they seemed pretty bony. Organ meats are pretty common in soup too. At least they make use of the whole animal.
Plenty of additional photos are up on my flickr page
After three days in the big city, I as ready to find some place a bit more remote. An easy four hour bus ride later, I was in El Angel. I certainly succeeded on the remote front, as I apeard to be the only tourist in town. I heard there was one other guy there, but never saw him. After striking out in my hunt for the hostel listed in the Rough Guide, I ended up in a different hosteria on the recommendation of a local. It was more like an extra room added on to a family's home, but was comfortable enough, if a bit rowdy in the evenings.