Benny gave us the address of the Capuchines in Quito, apparently they have all the info on the local cultures etc.
Calle Nicolas Lopez Oe3-157
(entre la Prensa y Brasil)
Tel (02) 2257689
Eric woke me up when he came in at 3 AM. He could not fit into the bed and wanted to move all the luggage off one of the beds so he could sleep. I could not go to sleep after that and later the door to the porch swung open and I could feel the breeze. At 5:30 or so the howlers started with their throaty roars. Our neighbours started talking, later I learned that they found a large spider in their room. We had an early wake-up call, a quick breakfast and off to the canoes, a walk to the Napo and a two hour motorboat ride back to Coca. The early morning mist was rising over the river and the atmosphere was romantic. I listened to music that Tara had downloaded onto my iphone and cried a lot, which is what happens when I listen to music from the past. The guides at the front of the boat were certainly curious that I had tears running down my cheeks, but it could have been the wind. We arrived in Coca and it was warm and sunny and we had a snack, more waiting and then off to the airport in the chivas and on to Quito.
Driving to Otavalo January 16, 2009
Driving up the Panamerican highway, which goes all the way to Columbia (in five hours), I am learning lots of interesting facts about Ecuador, which are coming to me quite randomly from our guide Jorge. We ask about finding a cuy or guinea pig to eat on the way, and he tells us that it is difficult to find and very expensive. Cuy is a quichua word; in Spanish is conejio pequenio, and this leads to a discussion about Quichua being different from Quechua, the latter coming from Peru. We talk about chicha, which is made from yucca in the Amazon and maize in the highlands. People spit on it to start the fermentation process. Canelazo is the traditional drink in the highlands and is made with sugar cane liquor, cinnamon, and passion fruit juice (maracua). There are three types of passion fruit juice in Ecuador, one of which is maracua.
We pass by the site of the new airport, which is currently enduring a corruption scandal. It is to be the second largest airport in South America. Over a 100,000 dollars have disappeared and causing much distress.
The landscape is semidesert, with agave, cactus and acacia trees. We drive along several rivers. The Rio Guayabamba ( guaya means green, bamba means valley in Quichua) flows by us, heading toward the sea. Ornamental plants grow on the side of the road and soon there are rose plantations on both sides. This is the rose growing part of Ecuador and roses are exported all over the world with much success. Because we are at the equator and there is sun all year and no seasons, the roses grow throughout the year. I know that we buy roses from Ecuador at Giant and Trader Joe’s in Baltimore and they are always the longest lasting and the most lovely of all the flowers.
Our guide Jorge is clearly well read, knows about his country, is proud, and has something to say. He tells us about the indigenous tribes of Ecuador. The Quichua are the largest, and there are several different groups throughout the sierra and along the Amazon. He stressed that Quichua is Ecuadorian and not Quechua as in Peru. Only three vowels in the language; i, u ,a. There are so many words in Ecuadorian Spanish that are actually Quichua words and we do not even realize it. Quichismo is the use of Quichua words as a part of regular Spanish.
We buy fruit on the road. Chirimuya is a smaller size of guanavana. This is not a guava, which is a guayava in Ecuador. The bus stops and Eric buys a bunch of chirimuya at a stand and the students taste them. We are driving in the direction of Cayambe, a huge volcano which remains active. We cannot see the volcano because it is cloudy and rainy and cold. We drive to Cochasqui, an ancient Quitu-Cara site on the way to Otavalo. There are pyramids and tombs and on top of one of the biggest pyramids are calendars of the moon and of the sun. Is is remarkable that these ancient people knew where the equator was, knew the phases of the moon and the circling of the earth and were able to measure the tilt of the earth upon its axis. Apparently, they buried their pyramids under two feet of dirt and grass so as to hide them from the Incas and then the Spanish. The site was left untouched for some time, but the hacienda owner realized at some point that there may be gold in the tombs and pyramids and tore some of them up. It is unfortunate that the Ecuadorian government does not have enough money to develop and excavate the site. Or perhaps by not developing it could save it , who knows.
We see Mama volcano Imbabura and Father (Taita) Cotocachi in the distance, obscured by clouds and mist. The legend is that Imbabura and Cotocachi were a couple, but since broke up, whenever Imbabura becomes angry at Cotocachi, her tears form the Lake San Pablo, which is between the two mountains.
We arrived at our hotel near Otavalo and settled into our rooms. I was cold so Eric lit the fire, which smoked and smoked and left us smelling like we had been in a fire. But it was warm and I listened to Maya’s beautiful music and enjoyed sitting near the fire with Eric.