It’s funny to be here living at the Equator and be sitting in the late evening in jumpers with each of us a blanket draped over our shoulders.

The fact is we are neither down near the ocean where it IS hot but also not up there in the true Andes with snow on some of the peaks. It is now technically the rainy season but this little valley has a micro climate which means that, yes we do get heaps of rain (mostly during the night) but we are also getting lovely warm days perfect for walking in the early morning and early evening. Ecuador mysterious mountains

 Andes in the Rainy Season

 

Our ‘shopping city’, Loja, (7000 feet (they tell me) gets the rough deal. Without exception every time we go there, it is raining. If it isn’t, it is about to, and when it is, it will be pouring.

It’s just 40 kms across some wild roller-coaster hills and valleys. One day, I will try to communicate just how the whole area sits on rock and shingle slides giving the mountains almost sheer sides and endless road repairs. The main road is well sealed and wide, the entire distance has double carriage ways yet, given that this is the rainy season and the chance of parts of the road slipping off the edges is fairly high, there are a number of places where drivers screech the brakes when confronted with a combination of endlessly winding curves and bits of the cliffside heading for the valley.

Yet, because of their endless experiences of such conditions the drivers are, without exception – in our experience – safe and careful.

taxirouter

The Taxi-router’s base in Vilcabamba

 

There are two main, sorry, three, methods to get to ‘town’. There are the usual sluggish buses toiling up the steep slopes blasting diesel into our nostrils when we are blocked behind them. But in our adopted Ecuadorian style, we do not get impatient with them. Then there are the four-door Toyota 4×4 long-distance taxis. ($16 return to Loja, plus $8 p/h waiting time). They are handy for picking up small pieces of furniture or larger pieces of baggage from the airport.

Last are the small cars called ‘taxi routers’. They are all painted ‘taxi-yellow’, have broad dark blue stripes along the doors and many do not have number plates. I am told that there is no police enforcement as long as the car is registered.

There are terminals of a sought which look as though they might have once served as stables in the days of the horse and carriage and a few white plastic chairs thoughtfully placed out of the direct sunshine where passengers wait their turn before being assigned seats.

The cost for the 40 km ride is only three to four dollars per passenger. As each car arrives, the arriving passengers are emptied out, the car waits (a few moments) until the next four passengers are settled then the driver heads, nonstop, in the return direction.

You can say it is a job for young drivers and they drive like the wind.

The cars are quite small but I suspect they have got specially powerful engines as they leave no doubt about their ease at scampering up these really steep hills.  Of course the drivers make their money by the number of trips they can cram into a day, driving endlessly from Vilcabamba to Loja and back taking on average 40 minutes for the journey. They know every corner, bump and pothole, and somehow – is it clairvoyancy? premonition? – but somehow they know when it is safe to pass the heavy trucks, really heavy trucks which, thankfully, are few. The whole trip provides a little excitement freely thrown in.

As most Ecuadorians are of a short stature, for everyone’s comfort and because I simple cannot fit in the back seat with two others, I am usually offered the front seat.  There are definitely some passengers who fall into the robust category and then Galina has to spend the trip clambering up the door lining to catch some air.rainbow valley

Yesterday we were in Loja to buy our very first piece of furniture.  A writing desk (two drawers, sliding computer tray, $80) for me to put in the ‘spare room’ so I can turn my thoughts to finishing my latest book.

 

Rainbow Valley

 

 

And so to dinner. Two gloriously ripe, deep purple avocados, small and full of flavor; crusty homemade rye bread from a neighbor, salt-free butter. Next, several golden-yellow passionfruit – the sweetest ever tasted; followed by steaming hochchata (locally blended tea with dozens of herbs – yum). Accompanied by a visiting squirrel and a fly-past by an exquisite humming bird and a blindingly intense rainbow to reinforce the nickname “The Rainbow Valley”.

After the rain and muddy boots, comes this gift from Pachamama. Life is Good.

Market Fare