Baños was nice, but honestly there were too many tourists. This is the real Ecuador!
I left Baños yesterday around two-thirty, after taking a few pictures of the town. I grabbed a quick ride for a few kilometers to where my campsite was (I had camped the night before on the mountianside under an orange tree to save on dough) and quickly rolled up my sleeping bag and bedroll. I popped out onto the road shortly afterward and began walking.
Soon, a pickup pulled over and I happily hopped in. We drove though the jungle, mountian tunnels, and paralleled a beautiful river canyon. The guy who picked me up was a good fellow, and refused to speak Spanish to me on the grounds that he wanted to practice his English. He was Carlos, from Guaranda, and he was on his way to Puyo to do some work at the local university. Apparently he’s some sort of chemistry teacher. He even stopped several times so I could take some nice pictures with my new camera of jungle-covered mountians, the river canyon, and other nice things.
We arrived to Puyo in about an hour, around four o’clock. I told Carlos that I wanted to keep going to Macas, but he told me that there was a cool little jungle trail that went alongside a small stream that I had to check out. I thought that sounded like a cool idea, so he took me there.
Before Carlos dropped me off at the trailhead, we stopped and got some grub. I got the chance to eat fresh armadillo soup, which turned out to be pretty good. It was just a soup with about half an armadillo plopped into the bowl, shell and all. It had it’s very own flavour, and it was by no means awful. I’ll have to remember that next time I see a dead armadillo on the side of the road back home in Texas…free soup!
Carlos dropped me off after we had a post-lunch cigarette, and I left into the jungle. It was quite a nice trail, though not as remote as I had initally hoped. The stream was beautiful and the vegatation lush. I ventured off the trail several times, hoping to spot a green tree python or perhaps a Bushmaster, but to no avail. I did, however, really need to relive my bowles, which had been rumbling agitatedly for the past fifteen minutes. So I popped a squat behind a tree and took care of buisness.
I was wrapping up and selecting the least poisonous-looking leaf with which to wipe with when I heard a rusteling sound from above. I looked up, and there was a medium-sized brown monkey about ten feet up the next tree over, glaring at me suspiciously. Huh. Ever heard of privacy, mate? I finished wiping and stood up, hacking up my pants.
Oo, he didn’t like that. Before I could even get my button done, the monkey began jumping up and down, howling madly and shouting what I assumed was monkey-profanity. He also had a mouthful of what looked like relatively sharp teeth. Hm. Better get out of here. I quickly dissapered back towords the trail, leaving the angry monkey behind to shout at the steaming pile of excrement I’d left at the base of the tree.
I returned to the trail in short notice and continued my hike. I saw beautiful plants, more leaf-cutter ants, and went over some unsteady looking suspension bridges. Soon, after about an hour, the trail ended at the outskirts of the town of Puyo.
It was beginning to get dark and it was also raining, so I decided to pussy out and check into a hotel.
I found a good one in short notice, one with free Internet. I plopped down, put my photos online, and then went and got dinner. Later, when i got back to my hotel room, I discovered a marathon of The Big Bang Theory on in English (which is a hilarious show.) I hadn’t watched TV in quite a long time, so I enjoyed the show…until about 3 in the morning. Oops.
So I slept late this morning, obviously. I woke around 11:30, checked out, got some lunch, and then discovered that it was still raining, no pouring. I figured it couldn’t last all day, so I stole a bit more computer time from the hotel and tried to wait it out.
It didn’t work. In fact, I think it was raining even harder now. Well, I didn’t have much of a choice. So I wrapped up my pack in it’s built-in raincoat, whipped out my hobo tarp, and set out.
My first ride came shortly, and was in the back of a pickup. Fortunately, my tarp kept me and my camera realtively dry, and it wasn’t a bad ride.
After that one, I hitched onto a truck hauling asphalt for about ten kilometers. This guy dropped me off in the boonies, which is my favorite place to be dropped off in. The rain let up for a bit and I got some nice pictures.
Soon, a truck cruised on by and let me in the back, taking me the hundred-odd kilometers to Macas, where I am now. It was a great ride, through misty, mysterious-looking jungle. At one point, we had to divert onto a small gravel road and over a rickity wooden bridge because the main bridge had been mysteriously obliterated.
I arrived to Macas around five. The rain had returned, and with a vengence. I couldn’t even see ten feet in front of me. Damnit. Looks like I’m going to have to spend even more of my birthday money on a stupid hotel.
The cheapest I could find was eight dollars. Fucking gougers. I’m leaving early tomorrow.
The Modern Nomad
EDIT SEPT 2011: This post is a good reason for me to tell any new hitchhiker, “bring a tent!” It’s worth it’s weight in gold.