The continuation of my journal from the adventure that I shared with my father and brother in 1994.
You can read Part One by clicking here.
3rd August – Wednesday
We had a breakfast of walnut and banana pancakes with maple syrup at the Magic Bean. Tried to hire a car from Ecuacar who tried to rip us off. $390 for 4 days. Budget gave us a Chevrolet Luv for $217 for 4 days. We drove up to the South American Explorers Club to pick up Dad’s passport, then headed for Otovalo and the Indian Market. I bought 15 necklaces for S/-20,000 down from S/-30,000. We had the customary chicken soup followed by meat and rice for lunch. A 10 year-old boy had kindly guarded our van for us whilst we browsed and ate. We gave him one dollar when we arrived, and another one when he was still there on our return to the van.
The plan was to drive from Otavalo to Mindo but we ended up going down a few miles of fairly rough tracks to a place called Garcia Moreno. The views along the way were absolutely marvelous. At one stage we descended over 2000m in one stretch of road. We came to a waterfall which had washed the road away.Behind the waterfall was a
Some time was spent discussing the insurance policy which came with the hire which demands that we should pay the first S/-4,000,000 on “death or total destruction”.
On the way up to Garcia Moreno, we stopped for a natural break, and, on looking back along the way we’d come, we were lucky enough to see four Andean condors circling in the distance. It is tremendously exciting to see these birds in their natural habitat!
Sunset views from above Garcia Moreno
At Garcia Moreno we re-fueled using buckets and a syphon tube, and watched an extemely spectacular sunset before going back down the hill in the dark to Las Cabanas Rio Grande. It was S/-35,000 for one night for three, plus S/-26,000 for dinner and breakfast. The cabins were very good, but there were some silly New Yorkers next door to us. Oli and I took a walk down to the river whilst Dad talked to the American lawyer. We saw some red eyes on the other side of the river at water level. We also saw a toad and an owl (probably) on the way back.
4th August – Thursday
We had breakfast at eight after a stroll down to the river. We’d seen a hawk in a tree and some tadpoles and young frogs. We set off for the “short drive” to Mindo. At lunchtime, after a drive along mountain roads, we arrived at Nanegal. We’d seen a few turkey vultures along the way. We had also crossed a bridge made from planks, of which about 6 were broken. Oliver kindly walked across to guide me off on the best part of the road. Perhaps he’d volunteered not out of kindness, rather that he didn’t fancy being a passenger on such a dangerous crossing! My tactic was to drive across the bridge at full speed and try to put my wheels down on the highest parts of the ruts on the far side, thus keeping the sump off the ground. When we reached the other side of the ravine, we looked back at the bridge we’d just crossed and counted EIGHT broken planks. A few minutes further on, we met a man on a horse who we photographed. His name was Fagosto.
Once we’d left Nanagal we hit la careterra mejor a Nanagalito, where we picked up a soldier who showed us the way to Mindo. There was only one way down from the main road, and that track terminated at Mindo. We booked into the Guadual hostel at about 3 o’clock and had coffee. Dad had a shower, which involved lots of disconnection and connection of electrical appliances including the fridge and freezer. They had to be very careful not to overpower the circuit.
We went for a short walk in the jungle before dinner. On the way we called in at the laundry, which was run by Carmelita (aged 80+) to drop off Dad’s bag of dirty clothes. Elizabeth (our landlady) took us down there with her younger son. She has three daughters and two sons. In the jungle we saw a wild orange tree (which we later found out, through bitter experience, was really a lemon tree – the fruits just looked like oranges), an unidentified bird of prey, and a sapphire blue starling. The bird of prey had appeared right on cue just after I had said to the others, “look at that tree – surely there should be a hawk up there surveying the landscape?” What a fluke!
Tomorrow, we will head along the same track, but go a lot further to find the “Cock on the rock”. Elizabeth is going to prepare some cheese sandwiches for us. Her husband, Segundo Enriquez, was mending the windows when we got back. He is a surveyor, working on the roads.
Oli had a shower and we had a very good meal of soup followed by rice and lentils, washed down with a couple of bottles of Pilsener. The table was made of a beautiful, silky wood called teme. Once back in Quito we found out that, although the locals use the wood as a cheap, local resource, it would cost us around a thousand pounds to have a table made from teme and shipped back to UK. Elizabeth kept sprouting beetroot tops in small glass dishes on all the table tops. They looked very pretty.
Previous episode: One
To be continued . . .