from the real life: How does two Danes, on the other side of the world, without
language skills, without a guide, only equipped with plenty of adventure
hormones and two kilograms of baggage, manages?
I've have tricked Jesper to a South America tour, specifically Ecuador. It is
of moderate size. The government is stable. The army was in control half a years ago, when
the former president was declared insane, and both vice president and chairman
of parliament said they were the new president. The army announced a democratic
election, people's favourite was elected, and the army withdrew it selves again.
The climate is changing; along the coast, it is tropical, on the double
mountain range (Andes), which cuts through the country, it is relatively dry and
cold. In the hinterland, it formes Amazonas backyard, and here are hot and tropical
The country lies right on the equator, and offers among others the world's most active
volcano, Galapagos Islands, the world's largest flying bird, cheap accommodation
13. Scheduled flight from Copenhagen to Heathrow, England with SAS, but here, the chain
feels of for Avianca, the Colombian respectable air company that we have
entrusted the rest of our travel. The plane to Bogota / Colombia is 3 hours
delayed. We get a food ticket for a sandwich and coffee, and shop around in the
large and rich Committee airport. Finally, it goes on, and 11 hours later we
reaches Bogota. They have even kept our flight to Quito / Ecuador back. We run
over to it, along with a lot of others, are in the air, the captain tell us that
we are landing in Quito in about 1 ½ hours, and we go to sleep.
14. I think it tahes an eternity, but we have also been on the road in 19 hours,
the 14 in the air. Finally we land, rush out of the plane, but lost in the
arrivals hall. Must wait, we know not for what. The other passengers rush past
us. We wait a little, then decides that the other can wait in their suitcases
while we take a taxi to the Hotel Grand. During the excavation of human duty,
the passport and the visa-handed form. We are just not allowed to pass. We are
laboriously explained in a correct and easily understood Spanish (or is it
Portuguese?) That we have the wrong visa form. Crying out loud! Then, the
fly-guy have given us the wrong form, when it was distributed out to us, and
those who would continue the flight to Peru. We ask if we can not just get a new
one, so we can get out to Quito, and find a hotel. Quito? - You are in Lima /
Peru! I would not rule out that we look a little bemused out, in 1 ½ seconds
which elapse, before we storm back to the transit hall. No hurry, the plane is
only about 5-6 hours. When we left Bogota, we were told we flew to Quito, first,
and then to Lima. Then it just started to blow in Quito, and then we flew just a
few hours to Lima. We can not fly back now; the airport in Quito closes at
24.00. There will be arranged for a small sandwich and Peruvian coffee. It is
We spend a very long night in Lima, talking with an English telephone installer
who left his wife and two children have at home, while he sees South America.
We finally fly to Quito and landing 12 hours late. The approach is fantastic. We
pass 5-6 kilometre high mountains and a huge blue alkaline lake in the bottom of
a perfect crater. I ask just for safety's sake 3 random before passing through
passport control. Thence to Avianca office to get flight moved forth 2 days. The
clerk is sympathetic, but is not authorized. We must enter the office in Quito
tomorrow. Sitting in the office along with a few girls who have gotten to Quito,
but not along with their suitcases. We are listening party, but notes that we
have only hand luggage. We have travelled before, and know that you have water
in most countries, so you can wash clothes.
We did actually plan to arrive at 22, go in to a hotel to sleep and then today:
Out and see Mitda del Maodo. Apart from the hotel and sleep, is went quite as
planned. From the airport, cross the street and into a bus running directly to
the place where someone for the first time realised where the equator was (and
is). A large monument and a red line. A lot of local people, but not a single
foreign. Outside we are negotiating with a bunch of taxi driver, getting a good
price on the trip out to Cochasqui, which is today’s second sight. 90 U.S. $
will eventually, after much discussion end at 30$ and we are running with an old
tattered car. The driver has been little misinformed of his colleagues, who,
big-smiling, watching us run. We learn why, after 1 hour. There is a sign
pointing to Cochasqui, and we rattles 15 meters on the main cobblestone-sized
peak. The driver stops and says "Si?" We say "No!, Pyramides". It
turns out that he does not recognize what a pyramid is (not in Spanish either).
Every time we have run 500 meters, passing a corner, or survive a big hole, with
subsequent complaint sounds of car and driver, or watch one of the great views,
he says "Si !!!!?" We say "No!" We will see the 15 major lawn
pyramids. Finally after about 10 kilometre, they pops up. We are thrilled to
leave the steamy car and driver. These large manmade soil piles for up to 500
years ago, worn sun temple and the like. As we round a corner, we find out they
are now more llamas. Lama will graze peace over considerably and turns out to be
We absorb impressions, photographs, enjoying the magnificent landscape, and go
down to the cold car and semi-cooled driver. Home tour to Quito is fine until we
crossed city limit. A sudden bang, and the driver is half dead, the car
completely. We leave him with $ 40 in his hand, but he still mutters about his
broken clutch cable. I go 10 meters across the sidewalk and ask a little lady "Quito
Centro?". She just says "Si," and jump into the bus that appears in
the same. We do the same, and beware; we go to the centre, and it costs only 1
We find a hospitable hostel / hustler of which the receptionist is a little hot
blooded Colombian girl. She finally leaves, after she has been most of my bag,
introduced her "girlfriend", followed us all the way to a pizzeria, told his
life history and I do not buy a drink for her. There are just some people who
don’t taking a NO! for an answer, although it is said 50-60 times, in many
languages. It is only 20.00, but we head the beds – alone: The door can be
15. A good night's
sleep, a real cold bath, and we are fleeing. Discover 20 meters from hostel that
I have left my Scottish cap and my sunglasses, later Jesper discover his shampoo
is gone. But go back voluntarily, we do not! Find one morning restaurant where
we get buns with cheese and Nescafe. Had really expected a great and good
coffee, but it turns out not to hold any thought. The scones are good and we buy
more of a bread shop on the way to the Avianca office.
Jesper spend a long time, and especially his excellent English skills on the
bimbo at the front disk. It ends with, we can wait 2 extra days to fly home
(there was no vacancy, when I tried to book from home). We must just pay U.S. $
100 each for the amendment. Then my impatience explodes. They changed our
itinerary and we got more than a lousy night in Peru. My language skills are
perhaps not so good, but I can speak loudly, and I know some of the words you do
not press in English! I end my monologue by asking her boss.
She sits behind, in his office. We go, waiting neatly on her sheep completed her
phone call, and I politely explained our errand. After some parliamentary ring
back and forth, is it all in place, she just need SAS’s acceptance of the change
from Frankfurt to Paris, who is take-over airport. The nice lady considers; it
would not be a problem. I have a feeling that my little speech at the front desk
has done its part; she could not avoid hearing it.
We take a taxi out to a highway where the bus to Amaguaña is said to stop. It
comes within 2 minutes, and we are going to Pasochoa National Park, a small NGO,
located in the oval crater of the extinct volcano of the same name.
We get off at the main road, in the middle of nothing. However, there is a sign
that shows at the park. There are 7 kilometres up to the entrance. It is an
extremely fertile area, mainly in black spotted dairy cows. While we pass a
cottage with an old lady, we buy something to eat and drink. We are in good 3000
meters altitude, it can be felt! We loses steam when one goes up the most steep
parts of the road. On the other hand, no problems with altitude sickness. There
is said that is hereditary, and we have not have it.
We reach the entrance, pay, park our backpacks, get a map and go out into the
breathtaking scenery. The temperate rain forest with lots of orchids and
epiphytes. Some hummingbird are seen by the many blooming shrubs and trees. We
make a tour of all the routes. Part of the time we walk along an aqueduct. It is
only open in a few places, most are a 1 meter high tunnel, with a half meter
openings for every 5-10 meters. It is certainly made of an ancient culture of
people, but is still maintained.
Good tired, but with some fantastic panoramas in our memory, and camera, we
return to the office for the backpacks. There is a local outside of his pick-up,
and he agrees to drive us down the road, in the back of his truck.
We are waiting patiently (for 1 minute) on the bus to Tambillo. Here we wait
again 1 minute, and continues with a second bus to Machachi. We jump off at the
square, goes directly into a restaurant, given today's special and find the road
map. Tomorrow's home-planned trip to Cotopaxi National Park is rejected, because
I can see on the map; they have similar geography and climate. We are just
jumping on the bus to Latacunga. On our left side; views to the Cotopaxi. With
its impressive 5897 meters, is the world's highest active volcano. Other smaller
mountain peaks passing on both sides of the bus.
Arrive at dusk to Latacunga, leave backpack at a nice hotel and go out into the
vibrant city. None of the stores here seem to be built in this century. The
products are a mix between now and past.
On the way back to the hotel we encountered on a saint-marches. A Maria figure
are carried around the individual houses in each street. Here is a small table
with cut flowers and cakes. I seem to remember that there is a girl of 12-14
years of age, with a beautiful dress in each house, perhaps it is no
confirmation anything. A lady singing psalms in a megaphone, both when
stationary and when they go. Around her are 50-60 people + those who are a
little further from just looking at.
16. Hot morning bath, light breakfast and then out into the city. There are
several squares in the city, some with clothes other with food. We find a bank
that will exchange our U.S. $ 4,090 price, we buy half a million Sucres. On the
way to the bus we buy smal buns, cakes and colas. The bus is here now, but we
wait for half an hour before driving. We sit and look amazed out of bus windows.
3-4000 meters high lava ash trays are cultivated from the river to peak in small
After 1 ½ hours, we reaches Zumbahua, a small town, but we manage to get coffee
and a contract with a local, the transport out to the blue crater lake Quilotoa.
We are on the left of his pick-up in a half hour, passing the one prospect after
another. In some places, white lava-sediment are swept across bottomless
canyons. Finally we end up in a small opening, at the end of the long gravel
road. We look a little puzzled at each other. Several times on the way, we have
been convinced; this is it, but now looks like nothing at all. We are trying to
end a low hill, and all excavations reveal themselves to us. It is enormous; the
diameter is 10-12 kilometres. Down at the bottom of the perfectly formed crater,
maybe 600-700 meters vertically below us, some small white " birds" turns out to
be sheep. What's on the other side of the alkaline lake, only the gods knows?
The air is crystal clear, but 12 kilometres is at the limit of my eyesight.
According to the guide book, there would be a restaurant serving guinea pigs
near the crater edge. We are looking for a bit, and end in one of the 10-15
cabins in the area. Indeed, the little dear creatures are loosely around in the
masonry stove. There is a tot grass and they can hide in the wood beside it.
Unfortunately cooking takes 3 hours, and there is nothing else to do in the
rather cold and wind swept area.
We crawl along with the driver in the cab, and start the bone braking trip down
to Zumbogua. Suddenly, the sound of a loud explosion, and we stopped. The last
layer of canvas in tire is worn through. While we find it equally worn-out spare
tire, the driver blocks the car up, borrow a pick from the near-living peasant
and dig a hole under the wheel. Here at home we usually lift the car, not
decrease soil. Well, it does the trick, and we continue. 20 meters from the bus
stop, a familiar loud sound and we will continue on its rim.
The bus is only about 1 ½ hours, so after a quick cup of coffee, we walks
towards it. The terrain is wild and rough. It lends itself almost exclusively to
sheep and llama teams, but here and there, there is still found room for a small
parcel. Almost all fields are harvested, but they bear traces of corn and beans.
All work are carried out by hand, by the small people who are shy, but waves
smiling at us. Most will easily stand under my outstretched arm. The truck-bus
passes us on the way up, but we keep walking, catching on the return drive.
Nevertheless, after 2 hours stamping, I say: "Now my feats wants’ a bus," and in
the same. it pop up behind a fold in the mountain.
The road goes back over the 4000 meter high passes. We can see up to 100
kilometres in each direction in the clear mountain air. Soft hills with
small-agree, deep gorges with rushing rivers and rugged, barren basalt
mountains. The 3 hours of fascinating transport costs 2$
It was dark when we arrive in Ambato, so we will go directly to the selected
hotel. Then out of the city, where almost only eating places are open. We get
something to eat, and walks around in the less enlightened and almost empty
streets and alleys. Unlike Latacunge, these people go home early, and so go we.
The legs actually need to rest a little.
17. We must
awaken the portiere, to come out of the locked door. Last night there was a café
with bread around the corner, when we were looking for dinner. Now it is closed.
It's actually quite hard to find a shop that has both coffee and bread, it is
either or. It succeeds, and then we entered the local natural history museum.
Here is a large collection of stuffed birds, fish and mammals and a lot of
preserved reptiles, amphibians, fish and insects. Everything from an adult
elephant to ants. Much is Ecuadorian, but there are also animals from the rest
of the globe.
A branch of the museum contains a freak-show. Largely deformed animal children,
but also some adults. Mainly conjoined twin and trunk-like growth in the
forehead. In the more serious section, there is a small shrub with about 100
different hummingbirds, hovering over us an Andean Condor with its wingspan of 3
meters, the world's largest flying bird (wingspan less but greater weight than
albatross). In a show case, there is a bird with a 5 centimetre long, thin horns
in the forehead, and 4 x 1 centimetres large claws on the wing edges. Does look
authentic, but I did never heard of: Anhima cornuta, Unicorn bird. (A
trip to the library reveals that its Latin name means: Spore Wing, its English:
With lungs full of formalin, we leight coughing makes it down to the Colombian
market. Meat, fish, vegetables, wrought iron and things in general. The town
itself is a huge trade area, with a narrow strip of residential around. By
contrast, large hinterland and far from the farmers come to sell their goods.
There are 6 dominant business type: Shoes, bags, soaps and the like, clothes,
drugs and ironmongers.
We strolling haphazardly, through the packed streets, looking for clean
underwear. I promised a colleague, a postcard, but we have to date not seen one,
not one! We get to train- and the bus station. Goes up in the first and best bus
and says "Baños". The driver says "Si!" And start the engine. Moving through the
terminal, Jesper spots tourist number 20 in 4 days.
As with all other coaches. small jump-on retailers offers soft drinks (cola
agua, cola lemon, cola cola), newspapers, candy, ice cream, fruit, fruit crisps
and cakes. The next time the bus slowed pace, they are gone. Common to the buses
is that they play good music, and even a reasonable level. The buses are not
just for humans. In between, there are bags of grains, vegetables and the like,
even some chickens and huge rucksacks goes into the bus. Sheep, foot powered
sewing machines, fencing poles and the like are referred to the roof, just as
those who do not fit inside the bus. We are fortunate to always get a seat,
there's good legroom, but I scrape the shoulders towards the ceiling if I stand
We drive through the 1,000 meter high lush hills. There are fields from the
river to the top, some green, some ripe, others harvested. After 1 ½ hours we
reach Baños, meaning; bathing. There is hot, cold, mineral and streams. The city
has 16,000 residents and 50 hotels. It would be something of a tourist town, but
when we jump the bus looks like something from the previous quarter century. We
go to the hotel, passing the Indian market and try a boiled corn, oeff and gravy
for 40 cents, served in a small plastic bag. One of the most delicious meals I
have had for a long time.
We find what we believe it is German, well organized hotel. There is a plan of
the city, admonitions to the world is in energy crisis (save on water and
power), scrupulously clean, ironed towels and then organizes the riding. We are
fortunate; there is room on the morning ride. 1 hour drive of Jeep, 4 hours of
riding on well fed horses in beautiful surroundings for 20€. We would like to go
early, but can only start at 10:30. They take our booking, and we walk down to
see the centre.
In front of many stores are sweet-pulling workers. The nice cane mass is
yellowish, and is added a red stripe in the final stage. Nasser a taste, and
must admit it tastes pretty good.
Indeed, it is a tourist trap. Lots of souvenir, plastic gadgets and restaurants.
The number of neglected back-packet when astronomical heights (perhaps over
100), and we hurry the 3.5 kilometres to the city's zoo.
It lies on a large table mountain. To get to it, we have to cross over a
suspension bridge, 50 meters above the roaring river. On the other side of the
garden there are 150 meters down to the river and a fantastic view down the
valley. The garden is truly exciting arranged: Each cage or aviary is a ravine,
which is closed at the end of the stone, and overwrought with the network.
Vegetation is original. Animals are local: Tapir, elephant tortoises, ocelot,
river pigs, bears, macaws, condors, toucans, mountain lions, monkeys, parrots
and small birds.
Well tire in Jesper’s knees and my feet, we walk out of zoo and may just wait,
while some local pull them selves out of "our" taxi. We drive to the centre, and
have coffee first, then food at a restaurant for locals. Oeff and cooked rice,
fried banana and potato and tortillas.
After the break, we look at the city's assortment of trinkets, shoes, hardware,
wool, drugs, Clothing Retailers jungle expedition offices, restaurants and
various combinations. Here are the tourists, and we find postcards. Banks,
however, can not exchange U.S. $ and will not take Visa. Faced with a bank,
there is a sign of an ironmonger: Currency change, good values. Indeed, in 4050,
only 1% below the normal bank rate.
While there are relatively many back-packers, but the local dominates the
street. The many adults who simply are 1.20-1.50 meters fascinate me. The
fascination is mutual, especially from women, who flirts a lot. They do in fact
throughout the country. One, we asked about the road in the airport flight
information box, was almost to climb out through the hole in the glass.
18. We get a hot shower at the German hotel, check out, but are allowed to park
rucksacks, until we come back from riding the ride. So we walk into the tourist
town to get breakfast. One advertises with "Rugbrød" (Typically Danish
rye bread) but we enter anyway. Then we just slouch around the city to get 3
hours to go before we have to out and ride. Sit outside the hotel a half hour to
Jesper’s patience burst, and he goes in and asks if they have forgotten us. They
have no forgotten us at all; there was simply no other who had ordered riding,
so it will not happen. It was fortunate it was Jesper who asked. I had probably
not taken it so well that we had wasted almost a day in this tourist hell.
On the way down through town, we see 3 saddled horses. Some difficulties booked
them for 13.00. Further more 2 hours in the tourist hell. Back, no horses,
"Unfortunately, try 14.30 o'clock." "Fuck you and your horse and your city, we
leave." Our success does not manifest in Baños, so we go further towards Puyo.
Going out to the highway, waiting a cup coffe’s time, and then jump on the bus.
We drive for 10 minutes and then stop suddenly. There are bars across the road,
keeping a long queue. So we'll run again, but only up to the gates, then all
climb out. People start to get a ticket boy into a corner and we get all our
So we are passing the gates, and crawl along with the other 18 buss passengers
up on a a pick-up truck. The next 25 kilometres, we find out that they are
making the one-lane mountain road slung on two-lane, and stretching it through 3
tunnels. We'll stop, not quite unexpectedly again. In front of us a towering 15
meter high pile of debris and clay up. All jumps off pick-up and starts to
climbing. On the other hand, one kilometres further along, with a second pick-up
All a’ board, and then it will go forward on the almost vertical hillside.
500-700 meters vertically down to the bottom of the gorge, the bottom completely
absorbed by the massive river. Other 500-700 meters above us are the mountains
peaks. Between them crosses eagles, vultures or condors the narrow strip of blue
sky. A few times we see 30-50 kilometres down the side of a gap. Some places are
huge mountains ravines whose lush pages cultivated in small plots. The road is
carved into the mountain wall; some places, the continue water drops past us. We
run in a tunnel, rock on three sides and water on the fourth. Some places are
not that vertical mountain sides, and the water ends up the middle of the road -
and us. We laugh and point with our Spanish-speaking fellow travellers,
photographs and clinging on to the truck.
We'll stop again, this time by some military post. Like all other places we
encounter the police or military, people are smiling and talking all together.
They are there to help, not to suppress, and as such, they are naturally
popular. We are checked and crawl back under the gates once more to a pick-up. I
started the middle of the truck and ends on the back steps after a tour cross
the top of the sheeting. These three pick-up trips in these beautiful and
exciting surroundings make plenty off for the missed horse ride.
Gradually change the landscape itself. We are moving into the Amazonas Delta,
the weather is milder and with more fields, as the terrain flattened. A new set
of road-blocks; gingo "passport in Puyos suburb Shell. We run for the
office will check the passports and jumps up on the wagon again. After 3 hours
on the back of different pick-ups, we are in Puyo. It is 17.30, but fortunately
the bank open. It just don’t help; they do not take Visa, and our U.S. $ reserve
has shrunken questionable.
The situation is critical, we get to know where the nearest Visa bank is: In
Baños, and neither the city nor direction is appealing. However, we intend to
begin a long expedition into the sparsely populated Amazonas in Ecuador called
Le Oriente. We walk Puyo thin, get something to eat and drink, and in the dusk,
we set ourselves to waiting for a bus to Tena. It comes at 20.00 and we are
driving through the darkness along a bad gravel road. There are only 60
kilometres to Tena, but despite the driver's breathtaking pace, it takes 2 ½
hours. While we thrill of a full moon during the estimates emerging. Mountain
Board, palm trees and a few of the night animals are made of silver-like light.
Good tender after today's transport grappling we leave the bus and after a
little fumble around, we captured the portiere to our hotel. Will immediately
organized a 3 day jungle tour, and are supplied with rubber boots. This guy goes
into chips by the size 44 of Jesper. Good René and his size 47 were not here!
After a quick sandwich and coffee, we find our beds.
19. Early up, and
out of town to find a writing pad and a new lock for my backpack. Back to the
hotel to eat breakfast, and in the small village’s bank. A real bank: A Visa
bank! We withdraw for safety's sake 1.1 million Sucres. Our transportation guide
finds us at our bank, and with him we'll drive into the jungle on the back of a
new pick-up. A little hours through the crispy morning air takes us deeper and
deeper into Amazonas. We are now down to 300 meters altitude and the heat and
humidity can be felt. We stop at 3 huts, 2 French and 4 Germans. Walks for ½
hour and are looking at piles hut camp, to be our home the coming days.
Jesper and I get assigned to a hut on 2 ½ feet high piles, dropping our
backpack, and starts the first expedition: Waterfalls trek. And then you think,
of course; you have to out and see waterfalls. Wrong: we must out and climbing
in them! We learn now that when the native Indian guide carries something along,
it is for a reason, for example a rope, so it should be used for anythin.
Together with the 2 French travellers, we head out of the camp. The guide shows
us various plants that are used for something. Once they pick a fruit, offers it
to a Frenchman, and ask him open it. He does, and strong, thick and very red
coloured sap covers his fingers. We are told to use it to make face paint with.
While the guide paint Jesper and the Frenchmens, I see the first ever more
desperate attempts to get the colour of his fingers. First water, then with
sand, but it is good quality. I refrain from the face paint; I am not Indian and
would not want to offend them with piracy.
Water falls are heard before they are seen in the dense jungle. In the beginning
we are walking in the 2-3 meter wide river. So we will start climbing through
the ropes and on great bamboo sticks with holes for feet and hands. Sometimes we
can just stretch ourselves into the narrow crevice water has gnawed. When I get
my boots filled for the 117 time, I spontaneously exclaims: "These boots are
made for swimming!"
Astonishing nature, 100s of orchids, ferns, epiphytes, bromeliads and views from
the mountain comb. There are some spindles, including some with a leg span at 6
centimetres. One of these giants has spun across the path, and is getting sun
baked Dane in the web. Insects are represented by colourful grasshoppers,
crickets, longhorn beetles, hornets, flowers and beautiful beetles, butterflies
and giant ticks. 2 centimetres big ants, whose bid makes one "logos." One leaf
frog also disclosed. While taking a small break, the guide offers oranges.
Garbage including peelings are brought back to camp. I call the conservation! We
have heard about the different plants use during their gruelling cicadas play
We reach back to the camp by 3, and are offered soup and chicken. Then laundry
without soap in the clear (and cold) river water. What is the promotional
leaflet was referring to as "24 hours laundry. Back in 6-hut village, kids
playing with 3 centimetres wonderful beautiful metallic green beetles on a
string. I doses off in hammocks under our hut, listening to cicada’s song, river
roar and the flying parrots chatter.
I can just lie there for a short time, then it's time for the next trip. "Back
garden" offers many dining benefits and medicinal plants. There are cocoa,
yucca, avocados, vanilla, pineapple, coffee, tea, lemon grass, and then all of
those, I do not know, and it was not sensible of in Spanish. While I have been
busy assessing mosquito attack the damage to my coloured lower legs, Jesper are
offered a taste of something which in his red-painted facial expressions must be
A group of low palms must stand under fire, as we learn how to build huts. The
stems are used for skeleton, leaves split and installed so they lock together. A
palm-leaf roof can last for 10-15 years. I would not rule out, that I would have
learned more if we could the same language, but mostly we encapsulates.
We walk back to the camp along the 15-20 meter wide and roaring river. The camp
is actually a 3 family village with a few guest houses. The men are guids, one
for the Germans, one for us and the French. The women cook food and the children
clean and wash up. I ask if I can get coffee, I have not symptoms, but we just
went through some bushes. Of course, I can get coffee, Nescafe!
Chatters with the French about the earth in general and with the German girls on
what we have done so far in Ecuador. One tries to speak English, but always ends
up in Spanish. We don’t admit, of course, we can German. They are also red
painted in their faces. The Germans have obviously started their holiday with a
2-month Spanish course in Quito, but still thought it was difficult to commit
themselves. “We must be excellent at Spanish, as we hazards around.” “No, we can
not a word!” And it was so the last thing we talked with them.
Creeping darkness comes and I get a candle to keep my diary records at. There
are dishes on the table and I feel most of all as a guest in a private home.
Well, that is actually what I am. We get steamed yucca with vegetables and
cheese. Night sounds take over; leaf frogs from the forest Rana’s from
the river, the crickets everywhere. Fire flies swarm and collides. I find some
6 centimetres large Death Heads Cockroach; Blaberus cranifer. The shower
is really just a loose collection of small bamboo stalks, and Jesper think that
the door lock by whistling. I think it does not madder; one can easily see that
there is some one in it (and whom).
Going back to the hut in torch’s light. Hut stands on its 2 ½ meters high palm
strains. The floors are mahogany, the walls of split bamboo or small giant
bamboo. Fixes the mosquito net and goes out like a candle in the wind.
20. Breakfast consists of fried banana slices and fried egg. Then all 8 tourists
and all of the village residents walk into the lagoon. It takes 2 hours to get
to the little lake, which is very deep, created by a high waterfall. We swim in
the cold water and bathe in the hot sun. I find tadpole, small Rana and a
migrant stick, which, despite its slim body has amazing colours. In the air
hover 40-50 different butterflies, water nymphs, dragonflies, bees, wasps,
flies, beetles, moth, and other interesting creep.
We head a bit back to get the lorry tyres we brought along. They are connecting
3 and 3, and we fly down to camp with 20 kmh. For each fleet, there is a guide
to ensure that we hit all the big stones. Like all other places, openings
reveals one magnificent view after another.
We are quite cold, but with a fantastic experience, we riches the camp. With
ravenous appetites we throw ourselves on the giant banana and yucca soup, full
of pasta with a radish-like root, probably some Fabaceae. Then all
collapses in a siesta calm.
Some think it is too hot for a walk in the jungle, so I have organised a fishing
trip. It is cooler down by the river. As we go down to the river, the guide
talking loose, and I must admit, I grasp more and more of his Spanish. I fish
with boiled yucca for 10 minutes and then handover the pole to a Frenchman who
received land crayfish of the guide.
Along the river there tiny poles up on shore. Each has its puddle size and
colour variation of the tadpole. Between the poles are large stones that are
completely overgrown by mosses, orchids, ferns and epiphytes. I walk into the
thick jungle. Almost impossible to penetrate, but with patience, caution and
flexibility, I manages. The number of species are overwhelming. 40-50 meters
tall trees, covered with bromeliads up to 1 ½ meters, orchids, ferns and various
epiphytes. High up from the air; roots and creeping plants. Birds, frogs and
insects are constantly heard but rarely seen. Giant butterflies and beautiful
flowers like the green wall that surrounds me. I could reproduce it on the
photo, but this is too dark - and way too much.
We are back in the dusk - no fish. Reaches the camp, where boiled corn - with
fish is served. I get flown down by a firefly which turns out to be a 2
centimetres large beetle of the Elateridae family. The entire rear part
of the belly can be turned into a crisp yellow light on the front there are 2
"eyes" lighting up green.
Back in the cottage, I pack my backpack with all the clean clothes. Only what I
have on are not clean. Some was washed into the river yesterday, something was
cleaned by rafting and climbing the waterfalls. Jesper spend his time chasing
down a bunch of 2 centimetre big ants from his bed. When we later get a good
night cup of coffee, he demonstrably pills he a 5 centimetres high moth up of
his coffee. The kind of people should stay home on the concrete jungle!
I get my forehead light and walk for a good hour into the jungle. I see a lot of
animals, including kneeling mantras. I turn off the lamp. Everything is dark
black around me, except the sky. Not only are there more stars in the lunar sky
than I've seen before. There are also the clearest star mists one can imagine.
Along the river, in a fringe of a wood, depicts the breathtaking ballet of a
flock firefly. They can be seen kilometres away.
Given the battery life, and my feeling of total helplessness without, I returns
to camp. Coming closer, I hear they have beaten off a celebration of local
music. Feast and celebration, with more sad songs from the surrounding area over
the guitar, drum and violin. Watching a few songs, and then to bed. Get a
rocket: The men never leaves the camp alone at nighttimes, and I had not even
brought the dogs along! They have otherwise followed us faithfully on all
21. Wake up early by a vigorous cocks hauling???. Get up, brush teeth -
and puts me in hammocks, which I see sunrise over the river. Breakfast consists
mainly of cooked banana. Now it's time for last solo expedition into the
wilderness. Morning sun's life-giving rays lure morning stiff lizards and
grasshoppers out in the open. Parrots begin to fly high squawk from their beds
to their daily pasture. Coming to a clearing, which is teeming with small birds.
Singers, flycatchers, finches, a single hummingbird, pigeons and above them all:
the Eagle and condors / vultures.
Once back to camp, we begin the journey down to the taxi. 3 days without Coca
Cola signs are at an end. Dropped off at the bus terminal in Tena, and buy the
last two seat tickets to Puyo bus. We await a sandwich time, and then driving
through the dense jungle of dirt roads, this time in daylight. The area is
relatively flat in some places, open clearings make room for fertile plains, but
it soon closes in to dense jungle again.
In Puyo, we buy tickets for Maca. Jesper will fix that we get to sit right
beside the driver. All the buses we travel with, has the engine in front, so
there is a driver and 2 seats, luggage space, and then the other passengers. We
are waiting an hour, which is used to food shopping and a look around the
terminal area, which vibrate with voices and a sheep bleating.
The bus departs as everyone else, in time. We continued down through the upper
Amazonas delta. Along the way, there is open forest, but the ground vegetation
is extremely dense, so I guess, it has been cleared.
We reach a large river, with a narrow suspension bridge. Bus stops and we walks
on, wait 5-10 minutes and then into a new bus.
After a few kilometres, the ticket boy takes over the steering wheel - while
driving. He concentrates enormous - to dust off the speedometer - it does not
work by the way. Gear shift is something we (maybe) learn tomorrow, but he is
almost infallible when it comes to hitting holes in the ground path.
From time to time primitive huts appears up along the 200 kilometre-long, side
tackle highway. People come out and look while the bus passes.
Sangay, the world's most active volcano, are emerging. There will be periodic
smoke / steam out of the top, and when darkness falls on, we see the top several
times, light up by the lava. The front light reveals opossum and guinea pig. I
have not seen a single traffic killed animals during the week. Either the miss –
or they eat them.
We reach yet another major suspension bridge - which has no deck. We use the
parallel walkway to cross to the waiting bus, on the other side. In the dead of
night we arrival at Macas. While we are on the terminal, we buy ticket to
Cuenca. 11 hours to 42 kronor.
We sniff a bit around the city, enjoy a plate of pollo, and walks up to
the cathedral and scouts vain after Sangay. Macas is a special city; we
encounter two local English speaking people here!
breakfast and bath we go back through the city up to the cathedral, and scouts
for Sangay. There will be smoke and steam once in a while, but then the clouds
obscured the volcano. Jesper being seated to get a good photo, when the clouds
occasionally release their grip, I go down to buy anti-pungent-pungent to my
mosquito-ridden legs and a writing pad. Also a 400 ASA film and food and drink
to the long bus ride. Like elsewhere, there are some dogs. They are very
different, but all friendly.
In front of the cathedral square is one big harassment concert, close to the
pain threshold. They are so numerous and so indifferent that it does not give
any problems to take close-ups of five centimetre large insects. I have heard
them on almost all my travels, trying to locate them, but now I finally
We followed a market down to behind the terminal. Mainly raw and finished food
and things peasants may need. The bus are full, good thing we bought a ticket
We start at the relatively flat terrain Amazonas, then moving south, through Le
Oriente. Everything is green, but there are no large trees, they must be cut.
Hen of the afternoon we come up to the mountains. The enormous slopes are
completely covered by jungle. There is, in contrast to yesterday, individual
We make a break into one. I see a small flock of golden squirrel-monkeys in the
trees river delta, Jesper see some monkeys in treetops along the road later. It
begins to be felt in the body;, the bus is built for people on 1.40. I sit down,
but keep the rod in the ceiling. Others appear on the toes to reach it. The road
is a one-track dirt road which holes only are beaten by the standing stones.
The temperature begins to fall, we reached a plateau. Low shrubs and plants
otherwise only know from the Mexican plateau. As we approach Cuenca, after 11
hours of driving, some oncoming can be seen. There are some buses where there
are only 3 rows of seats, the rest is open platform.
We arrive to Cuenca in the deep night, but find a hotel and a restaurant. We get
"Lobo", but says neither oef, muuh or maee. What is the sound of a lama? The
night wears cat and civil war. At least, that is what it sounds like through my
earplugs. The next morning, the only visible trace of Jesper’s face.
We take a taxi to the opposite end of town. Here we see one of the local
markets. Mainly knitting in cubic meters, also shoes and bags. Local uses modern
backpacks are so do the Indians. We go over the new and the old cathedral.
Impressive big and beautiful. All road surface in the centre is under
renovation, so it is a car-free city.
We come to another market. Cut flowers and pot plants, most familiar species. It
seems everyone can read, even shoe polisher is more busy with the daily
newspaper than to lure customers. Has been like this throughout the country. We
continue past the photo-hardware-book and shoe stores, and fnd to a market with
pottery and all kinds grass knittings. Bowls, piggy bank, flower pots, jars. The
many markets are a Tuesday event. The larger cities have one or two market days,
where the surrounding peasants come to town.
A covered market offers meat, vegetables, cereals and ready meals. We see it
all, even the rusty and spider web overgrown tripod with fresh meat. On the
other hand, he tries only to sell it at the slaughter days, not 14 days after as
in Denmark. The city's general commercial districts, we see, as in many other
cities, specialized stores: Eggs and eggs only, or bananas solo. Other stores
have everything from feeding bottles to stretchers bouquets.
So we walk towards the terminal to catch the special bus for 9.00-Incapirca.
While there will be time for coffee and breakfast. Hot water / milk and liquid
coffee concentrate, with some small white floating objects. It get drunken, but
not with the joy we had hoped for. We get a couple of buns, and pay less than 1€
The trip goes through large soft hills with grazing. Some fences consisting
solely of cargo tires as fencing poles. Cattle are 99% black spotted dairy cows.
Some Indian hump-oxen and some brown beef-cattle. We reach Incapirca, an
Inca-like complex from 10 to 16. century in 3160 meters altitude. Most of the
large constructions consist only of a half meter high wall, but the central sun
temple is quite intact. In addition, there are baths, squares, corn stocks and
remnants of past civilizations: Cuencanas.
We see a lot of different small birds in the mature thistles surrounding the
plant. As elsewhere else, llamas are used to keep the grass down. Deep in the
valley below, a bitch is playing with her two half adult puppies in the high
grass. On the ground next to, the farmers by digging up potatoes. The whole
family in their colourful local costumes. Between them, horses, chickens, cows
and a few pigs are running free around.
We are just off the steep slope behind solar temple. Here we find pottery, even
with colour designs. We sit in the last sun and eat the picnic, while thunder
echoes in removing mountains. Down at the entrance, I find a car that can drive
us down to Tambo in about an hour. It gives us time to explore the small museum
and get a cup of coffee and a pollo burger. The place is obviously a
tourist place, and we see the first tourists since we said goodbye to the French
in Puyo. Local school children are in large surplus.
Both here and everywhere, even in large cities, there is an odd mix of clothes.
Some Western, other typical "Peruvian".
We drive to Tambo along with two Germans who, like us, intend to travel by rail
from Alausi to Guayaquil, a trip which is highly praised for mountain lovers. We
stand freezing in a corner from which bus to Alausi is said to pass. No one
knows when. I summarizes the meaning of that local pigs are hairy as puddles. If
they were naked as those in the lowlands, they would freeze just like us. It
starts to rain; we are in the middle of cloud and wind changes constantly. There
comes a bus, I stopped it and asked if it runs for Alausi. Nix - Guayaquil. 1 ½
second of hesitation, and we leave the Germans in the increasing rain. We have
seen mountains, and there is something about the temperature in the lowlands
along the coast, which draws. As Jesper says "Add water, and you get instant
planning". We can then take the mountain railroad in the opposite direction.
There are no seats for us, but fortunately it is the first bus with high
The small fields of the mountain presents can be glimpse through the fog,
forests are replaced with vertical mountain sides, as we begin the descent from
the plateau. Then there are large plains with banana, sugar cane and a few
coffee plantations. The temperature rises from 12-15 to 30-35 C, and we passes
large fields, which may have been corn and grain and a few giant dairy farms.
Gradually, the changing the landscape transfers into a sump. Giant silk heron
and giant halcyon, small ox herons, falcons, cormorants and - well - birds in
general. In the channels beside the road, there is a wide range of floating
plants, and I note with satisfaction that the pigs are naked.
We reach a watercourse - in a few kilometres - across. Behind it is seen
Guayaquil sky-line in stark contrast to the primitive stilts huts that were in
the last paragraph of the marsh. We go through the giant terminal to eat soup
and frying. We learn that the aforementioned trains departing from a suburb,
which can be reached with a ferry. Unfortunate, the daily trains depart at 6:30,
just before the first ferry visiting!. So if the mountain trail is abandon by
us. Too much time and effort to take a train for an hour, and then bringing us
up in the heights with its coldness. We choose instead to continue north, up
through the tropical coastal land.
To the centre to find a hotel, and down to the quayside to see (a fjord) of the
Pacific. We go along the promenade where there are many statues and memorials.
Of greater interest to me are 10 toads in a truck light glass, with water. They
appear to thrive well in the otherwise arid landscape. On the way back to the
hotel, we pass a lot of closed shops. Quite sad, as they are closed with metal
shutters. Street traders, however, is still active, sweets, tobacco and a few
newspapers. There is a bold smell from various eateries: Chinese, KFC, Dunking
Donuts, Pinquin, McDonald and the local.
Go for a beer / water on a promenade, causing a lot of attention, but we are
after all the only tourists, since we left the bemused Germans in Tambo.
24. It runs perfectly fine for us, with one exception: It is embarrassing to
admit, but traced a certain pleasure when it is originally Nescafe that come on
the table and not the usual coffee bean powder. We take a taxi to the terminal
and buy a ticket for a bus that goes about 6 minutes. Are guided up to 3 floor,
and off we go! At the ticket, it says that we get 2,000,000 for death or
disability - in Sucres. This corresponds to 200€!
Back across the river and through the vast marsh area, this time to the north.
Many variants of cormorant and heron. Large eagles and magpies and some halcyon
After a while, it begin to thin out in paddy fields of the marsh, they will be
replaced by banana plantations, as the landscape rises - a few meters. We run
10-15 kilometres through a banana plantation in so just to get to the next. Then
some starts to grow corn, and some cattle, which are feed exclusively by
We pass a few major cities; we are delayed in one of a small fire on the road. I
suspect the street traders! The terrain rises slightly, the temperature drope a
bit and we meet citrus plantations. We arrive in Quevedo at noon. A couple of
cooks, which embargen in the past - with their carriers, cluck gently dust waves
on us, and there is a lively activity around us . We see the local carnival,
markets and street traders. Find the Emtel-house, and send confirmation fax to
Avianca. Get something to eat and drink, and when just to jump on a express buss
to Sants Domingo de los Colorado.
When we cross a river, I see clearly a large green iguanas in width. They are
said to keep close to people; stupid, they taste as good. Now we meet some
pineapple, soy, corn and coconut among banana plantations. Among are also large
trees, which must bear some fruit.
Santa Domingo terminal is outside the city, so we take a taxi into the city.
Huge vibrant area which we walks in for 4 hours. Large, but not new, there is
not one chrome / glass building. All buildings can be constructed in the last
century; they apparently just to be from one of them before. In front of most
stores, there are street traders with stalls. Between these, there are other
traders around. I buy a roasted cob smeared with sauce and sprinkled with
Parmesan cheese. Really delicious and filling. There are several covered
markets. Grains, vegetables, meat, hardware, shoes, shoes, shoes, bags and
things in general.
I've been looking for a money belt ever since Jesper bought one in London.
Instead, I find a wide nylon band, ½ m wide zipper, slightly Velcro-lock and a
tailor. 4 acts, 3 € and I have the belt I wanted. I see some big beautiful cocks
somewhere. Looking behind the cages, they are in, and there are some 4-5 meter
It becomes dark, and we find a restaurant, unfortunately without snakes. Now
it's time for a taxi to the terminal. While we're waiting for departure, I get
my boots polished. Around 50-100 (shoe polishers) have pointed out the need for
it, the last few days. A 12 centimetre large grasshopper comes noisy flying over
the range of holding buses, pretty impressive.
3 ½-hour night brings us to the capital Quito. Another day without any other
tourists, than the one that always follows me. He refuses to take the backpack,
he is afraid to fall on his face. We find a really nice and cosy hotel for the
last 3 nights (we have not spent enough money, according to plan).
25. Today, when we really should have gone home, we begin our exploration of
Quito. The first sight is - a breakfast bar. So we walk through the new tourism
business center (see even 5 tourists). The shops have beautiful handmade items
from the province. Colourful, charming, rustic and woollen. We come Avianca
office and re-re-confirm our return. In neighbouring shop, we find little code
locks to the backpack. Not that we have felt the need, but it is nice to be able
to "seal" ones luggage, and even without a key.
Going through a large park with plenty of enjoyment options for the many
children laughing and playing. We reach the first of today's markets.
Plastic-covered stalls with the usual mixture of gas appliances, toothpaste,
sweaters, towels, bags, fish, flat keys, tomatoes, clocks, shampoo, corn,
umbrellas, newspapers, shoes, sewing thread, fishing nets, porcelain figurines,
plastic bins, onions, girlie, cow thongs, fried bananas, sunglasses, shopping,
hammocks, dishes with hot pig snouts and ferrets (then known as its oeff),
aluminium pots, grain, cameras, spices, cut flowers, cosmetics, ponchos, oil
cans, cola, candy, chicken, rubber mats, dishwashing brushes, cakes, fried
chicken, safety pins, ribbons, mirrors, roasted corn, beans, apples, cigarettes,
eggs, mouth peace for horses, curve merge, oranges, lighting and saddles.
Between the different markets, there are general shopping streets, where they
have all that the markets don’t provide.
A market is recycled. Car parts, tools, computer scraps, clothing, shoes and a
large amount of suspicious new auto radios without wrapping. We head down a long
twisted street with renovated typical colonial houses. It starts to rain and we
get a sudden taste for coffee. Just nearby is Casa de Sucre. He was a great
freedom-general who has put the name on their currency. (4 Sucres = 1 Italian
lira!). His typical Spanish courtyard with four building gallery is furnished
with old furniture, and quite interesting.
It starts to rain again so we are entering a closed market. We see the market,
it rains steadily and there is no cafe. There is a barber, so I will just get a
close cut and a really old-fashioned shave. It is still raining, so we move on,
and get an Inca Kola. The weather and the smell from the chicks in barbecue,
convinces us that it is dinner time. Afterwards, we take a taxi home to the cosy
hotel. Exciting days with many terrific visions.
whole day. Quito offers of course many attractions as most other capitals, but
we are quite discerning. Near the hotel is a vivarium, recently opened, mainly
with local animals. We look at the shops on the way over. Inside we get the
pamphlet in English language with a brief description of the animal's life. The
premises are really nice decorated. Lacquered wooden and ternaries frames.
Inside each terrarium there is a reasonably good reproduction of the animals'
natural habitat. Over all, even with the swamp turtles, they are clean.
Beautiful and exciting exhibition, but there could have been a few more
amphibians and reptiles, snakes less to my taste.
Then we walk to the university museum. Someone rich fellow has donated his
collection of archaeological and religious objects. Unfortunately, the
archaeological are only his own digging around. It is mainly religious paintings
and statues from 14-1900. Wood flooring is polished and we are being suffocated.
We continue slightly dizzy to Museo del Banco Central.
An impressive building: Huge curved plate glass building in 3 floors, a
tent-like structure on top and an integrated granite block building beside it.
Within it is even more impressive. Hyper modern display, with texts in sanded
glass, perfect halogen lighting, very stylish. We start with the Big Bang and
ending with abstract art. In between there is the earth and human development in
plate form. Then Ecuador archaeological history showed in stone, pottery, art,
mummy and giant terrariums, where whole valleys are restored to the smallest
On display number 70, I am getting a slightly sore back. They forgot to put
benches between the different ages. Following the chronological / geographical
analysis of clay and stone coming precious metals department. Enormous amount to
the most amazing "Inca" gold work. The oldest stone tools 10,000 years old, clay
work 4000 and the oldest gold 2500 years. Inca has been in Ecuador from
1460-1535! They came straight over and then got the spank of Spanish concocters
Then follows a collection of furniture, clothing and religious things from the
Spaniels. We reach to the present, represented by paintings and sculptures.
It started to rain while we studied archaeology, so we just take a cup of coffee
and a sandwich, to see whether it is a shower. It is not, and we take a taxi
home to rest my back. The rain stops and we run down to the old town, with all
its markets. Personally, I can spend forever in those markets, but darkness
comes creeping between the pompous buildings from last century. The shops are
closing, the street traders and their stalls are packed away, and with huge
mountains of pots or knitting, the stumble home.
We find a lomo restaurant and take the very tasty meal, while we look at
the colourful local population urgency over, now back in the rain wet pavements.
Cicadas begin their ancient song of the hollow trees in front of the cathedral.
Further down, on this historical place’s worn cobblestone peddle, beautiful
virgins offers the most fragrant flowers. Oops - we try again: Local
people urgently curvilinear bent over in their too-thin western clothes, only
very few have an umbrella. Smog thickens into new dimensions as 3 buses gases
dramatically up, to get first at the red traffic lights. The all too many modern
alarms will get their hauling yelling on every street corner, and from a dark
alley shouts a 2 meter tall negro woman (?!) with the rough voice "Fucky, fucky!"
after us. Pisser rain down and it’s getting cold. No, it is not true either.
It is impossible to describe the mood that prevails in a foreign country. It
depends entirely on how you choose to experience it.
It starts torain again, and we drive home and packs our rucksacks, get served
coffee in the living room and talk until late at night.
27. It is early morning; we leave from the hotel and catch a taxi 2 meters from
the door. Running through the totally extinct city to the airport. We are there
early, because we (quite rightly) do not rely entirely on our reservation. It
succeeds, however, to get away. We'll stop in Colombia to get a decent cup of
coffee. The airport is not new but hyper-modern and fantastic clean and well
maintained. There is a fairly large range of products and we get the 5-6 hours
I’m sitting next to a Swede in the aircraft. He was one day late in Paris,
because there was fire in a wheel at take-off. The day after, one of the engine
cut out on the Avianca flight, so they got yet one more night in Paris. He
complains that he received only chicken for 14 days and lightens, up when Jesper
and I pills foil on some cow. He sounds strange when he pills metal foil of his
chicken led! He never travels by Avianca again.
The sun goes down vertically in the clouds, and 5 hours later, it returns fast.
28. Next stop is the Charles de Goul airport in Paris. I opted for a Paris
Toast, but can only get cheap American hot dog. Bread, flaccid sausage, mustard
and ketchup. I look at 10 cockroaches at once, in one of the airport's two
restaurants. The shops are few and dull, few places take Visa, U.S. $ can be
used few places but gives back in France. The airport is totally worn out and
dirty and grubby immense. Signposting poor, prospects of the Eiffel Tower gone
to the smog and light to the toilet does not work, nor doors. 5-6 hours in CDG
is a long time!
Last flight is with SAS, and it works fine. We are indeed fortunate that there
is a queue at CPH, so we get an exceptionally beautiful tour of Zealand.
Lolland, Falster, Hornsherreded, Odden and Fyns outline is evident. The nearly
completed bridge over the Great Belt in the smallest detail. It is not the last
time I go to South America. Nature is exciting, people-friendly and helpful and
Expenses: 9500 kr ~ 1270€
Backpack 4000 grams:
Toilet bag: Deo, toothbrush, toothpaste, detergent, 2 extra batteries, Swiss
knife, Clock, with a compass, 2 extra film, copies of passport and tickets.
Pillbox Head / stomach pills, mini shaving, ear-plugs, drying cords, malaria
Me / bag: Photo apparatus, money belt, bottle holder, code lock.
Documents: Health insurance, vaccinations, passport, ticket, pen, money, visa,
Clothes: 6 socks, 3 underwear, 2 T-shirts, 1 shorts, 1 bags, laundry bins, lamp,
raincoat, sweater, Lonely Planet.