Is it really possible to get chaffing there?

Trip Start Dec 26, 2006
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Trip End Dec 25, 2007


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Where I stayed

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, May 28, 2007

And so it was I travelled with my Guatemalen Spanish School amiga Tiffany again and we headed down to the Quilotoa Loop winding our way past spectacular Andean scenery as the bus climbed up towards Sigchus. Well in theory that was what was meant to happen but the reality was cloud and lots of it obscuring any view other than that within 5 feet of the bus window. The sales pitch on the bus was cranked up a notch with Guido the jewelry salesman trying his hardest to get us to buy his wares. Think infomercial in Spanish with the bling involving a razor blade (makes a great earing), cross and a gold chain...all for the handy price of US$2. Thanks but no thanks G-man!

After a 4 hour bus trip we rocked into Sigchos and what looked like the end of the road for the day as the next bus out was not happening until the next morning. Come in Mr Taxi Driver who was offerring us a ride for US$10 a piece to Chugchilan which we jumped at, sure it was about 10 times the going rate but what can you do when they have a blowtorch to your nuts? And about 90 mintes later we rocked into Mama Hilda's with our price suddenly lifting to US$25 which we promptly ignored as we cut our way in through the fog to the warmth of Mama Hilda's fire and her love of the use of fine-print.

My boy scout skills came to the fore in the evening as I attempted to use the pot belly stove in our room to pump the temperature up above freezing. Well after sacrificing Lonely Planet Venezuala Chapter to the flames my attempt to create anything other than smoke in the room proved futile. Without kindling I was screwed unless creating a giant smoke machine was my ultimate goal. And so it was that we hoped for hot water in the morning as Mama had promised us already. Mama had to be watched at all costs though as she had some rather dodgy manouvres up her Chugchiglan sleeve.

And so we came to our group activity the net day, a leisurely three hour horse ride to volcanic Laguna Quilatoa. Still basking in the glow of my Colombian horse experience that was Mariposa and her equine buns of steel I duly jumped aboard my no-name horse, a rather old looking beast that seemed to wilt under my heaving 75 kg´s as I planted my ass upon the saddle. With Tiffany and Gregor doing the same the three of us and our guide took off. I decided to call my butt loving beast Tercera (third in Spanish) as she had no inclination to lead or even follow in second place as Tiffany and Gregor´s horses vied for that honour even resorting to some equine biffo as they attempted to push each other off the path, with riders powerless to do anything but hang on and hope. The scenery was magic as we pounded our way up slippery slopes, down through the green valley, past the Eucalytpus tress (cue homesickness) to take in some majestic views of the surrounding landscape.

However we spent more time in that stupid trotting motion than a gallop or canter leading to severe pounding of the seeds against the saddle to which no adjusting of position seemed to work. And then there were the crazy dogs nipping at the heels of the horses along the way, dogs that required trekkers to carry sticks and rocks as well as water and snacks to ward off their crazy attacks. And before you could say "whats that blood on the back of my pants" I was off Tercera and happy to see her head straight for the Ecuadorian Glue Factory. Adios muchacha!!

And the next part of the journey required a walk down to Laguna Quilatoa, hey no problem as in 25 minutes we were at the waters edge, but now to get up. Put this down to the hardest 55 minutes of the trip so far as we walked in soft sand, at altitude up a mother of a slope to reach the top of the lakes crater. Sounding more like a wheezing asthmatic, the heart literally having to be coerced back into ots place as each beat sent it heading out of its cavity. And this was with stops every 5 minutes to catch your breath and contemplate the beach you were now carting up in your boots to add to the fun. But we all made it back up the top, some in better conditions than others and safe in the knowledge that I now had 2 extra mates to take back on the bus trip with me, saddle sores the size of a couple of small African nations wedged beautifully on the inside of each butt cheek. Terceraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!

Back at Mama´s we returned to a scene of scalding hot water, or blindingly cold water as the ability to get the balance in Mama´s shower deserted me and my saddlesores. But thanks to Tiffany´s Neosporin a magical antiseptic cream and a good 10 days application inside each cheek, my two new mates disappeared for good as I doubt I will be climbing on board a horse for a long long time as any mempry of Mariposa fades into the distance, replaced by an old butt-sniffing beast called Terecera.

And as we settled our bill that night we came to the realisation that the nice Mama Hilda was a front for a money grabbing she-devil who used fine print to bump up taxes by about 23% on an already pricey bill thanks to a taxes and service not included clause that powerfuñ binoculars would struggle to detect on her signs. So beware the charge of Chugchiglan...it bites!
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