Indecision, Indecison....

Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
Trip End Jan 20, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another day, another five hour bus journey...Cuenca to Riobamba, again, along the Panamericana, through the Andes, coiling round, up and down, snaking to the next town. The hills definitely aren't English - too big, too stern, the flora too alien, and the pigs too hairy. Indigenous women are peppered along the sides of the road, selling fruit, wearing woolen leggings, shawls, boots, long skirt and the ubiquitous trilby against the equatorial Andean chill.
Hey-ho. The best laid plans. I checked the times of the train down "The Devil's Nose" - it leaves Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. So I was going to skip Riobamba, and head straight to Baños. But there didn't seem to any direct buses there from Cuenca. So I changed my mind back, y estoy aqui en Riobamba. Intentions, eh? The road to hell. Paved, so I believe, with discarded Chris Rea CDs. It's important that they are CDs - Chris is very much of the CD age. Too late-80s for vinyl, too old for MP3s.
Hmmm. I digress.
Let's go back a few days. Cuenca, on Sundays, is shut. Almost entirely. I thought I would spend the day in museums. The only one open was the Zoological Museum. It was good, though. The enthusiastic guide seemed to most enjoy telling me how aggresive, or how poisonous, the animals there were. And there was a crocodile. I walked over it. Well, on a bridge. It was most interested in soaking up the heat from a hotlamp. "Very aggresive", said the guide. I think he wanted to change the sign outside. "Museo Zoolóica - ¡Peligro!". Churches were also the order of the day. Lots of them. They opened on Sundays. But why do beggars seem to congregate outside them? For instance, by the cathedral was a man with one leg, begging for alms. You do the joke. Inside, of course, the place was richly decked out in gold and marble - a fortune spent to honour an imaginary sky fairy, whilst people outside desperately tried to get a few coins to keep themselves alive. And the human race chokes on its own bile.
Monday - a visit to Ingapirca. An Inca site. Well preserved - the sun temple, especially, looked impressive. And a walk around the nearby valley.
Tuesday - a trip to Cajas Parque. Walking for hours at 4000m above sea level. That's fun. Dress rehearsals for Machu Picchu, perhaps. The lakes are impressive up there. And the forests. Then, in the evening, I decided to have a pint. Unfortunately, all the bars were shut. Well, nearly all. I found my way back to the one I was in on Saturday night. Then, it was small, but friendly, with drunk Cuencans eager to chat. Tuesday night, it was empty. And I had a strange conversation with the barmaid.
"¡Hola! Una cerveza, por favor".
"No tengos cervezas".
"What....¿No hay cervezas?"
"No. Ahora...[something I didn't catch]...cervezas....[something else]"
Then a list that I wasn't entirely sure of, consisting of what drinks they had in the bar. I saw Smirnoff behind the counter.
"Un vodka, por favor"
"¿Que?...¿Esta?", pointing to a brown bottle of something.
"No - a la izquierda".
So I drank a large vodka, with unasked-for orange, and lots of ice, whilst the barmaid sang "You're beautiful" along with a CD of Santiago Blunt, and that song about everything being yellow. It was vaguely interesting that she knew the lyrics but didn't speak English. Not, however, interesting enough for me to stay and drink more not-beer stuff. I walked back to the hostel, past other shut or empty bars.
I have a load of random photos. I'll upload them now.
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