Sunday, 10 June 2012

Ecuador By Bug: Cuenca to the Yunguilla Valley

It was time for a shake down run on the bug.  We'd spent a couple of years just negotiating the possibility of owning a car in Ecuador (Fred for and Sigred very much against) and then before actually looking around and finding one, Fred had to take lessons and maneuver through the Ecuadorian system in order to get a proper drivers' license.  That saga took several weeks and involved actually having to find the Police Station twice as they'd moved without notice.  However, in the end, Fred finally prevailed.

Next there was the actual looking for a bug in decent shape.  This too involved many false starts, disappointing sub-endings and having to negotiate the buying process in Spanish.  Fortunately, having been in the country at that point for 3 years, both Fred & Sigred had fully adapted to "mañana" and the heavy paper-work way of doing things.  In that end, believe it or not, the bug was finally purchased from a young man from the Czech Republic who had moved here with his family to grow strawberries.  (Note:  thus Fred was working in Czech, English & Spanish). 

Then, much to Sigred's disgust, there were a few things that needed tweeking on the bug.

Side Note:  Sigred's previous mantra was as follows:  Cars are like men, they always break down just when you need them the most.

No one is really sure if Sigred is joking or not.

Back to this story:  Initially Fred went to the mechanic who had done major work on the bug previously.  After several weeks and a saga involving 4 countries (Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico & Germany) Fred ended up paying that mechanic off and going to another man, "El Maestro".  It goes without saying that El Maestro is a master mechanic, instantly cognizant of the work needed to be done on the bug, honest, efficient, friendly and charges very reasonable rates. One over night stay and one 3 hour visit put to right the immediate repairs on the bug.

We had agreed to take the bug on a short initial trip and decided to venture to the Yunguilla Valley (about an hour and a half from Cuenca) to visit the Sol y Agua resort.  We'd been there before and quite enjoyed our stay.  The Yungilla Valley is stunning in it's breadth and majesty and sitting at the resort, surrounded by big sky, swaying palm trees & ageless mountains is hugely soul cleansing. 

Note:  There is an adequate restaurant at the resort, TV's with only Spanish, a huge clear blue pool, ostriches and no internet access.  Bring several good books!
It is very difficult to take a snap shot of the crashing depth of the mountains'  peaks & valleys.  You might be driving through green fields with mountains in the distance and dairy cows chewing their cud and then 20 minutes later your throat is in your mouth as you look down a periscope distance to see a small river snaking through a cut between peaks. 

From Cuenca to the resort is mostly downhill and we knew the real test of the bug would be our return trip.

We settled in at the resort, napped & read, lazed by the pool, admired the scenery, had breaded shrimp at the restaurant and took a drive around the immediate area. 

The elevation at Sol y Agua is over 2,000 feet lower than Cuenca.  While Cuenca (to us) seems to have a perfect "Spring" climate, in the Valley the weather is quite bit warmer.  It's wonderful (for a bit of change) to don shorts & flip flops and worship the sun for awhile, although it's a bit too warm at night, there are mosquitoes (hardly seen in Cuenca) and heat and humidity take some getting used to. 

A tad worried about our uphill trip home, the bug ended up performing admirably, putt-putt-ing quite contentedly up through the various passes and finally down into Cuenca.  There actually comes a point when you can feel the difference in climate and at that point we knew we were almost home. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our shake down trip to the Yunguilla Valley and our quiet time at the resort.

Next Trip:  Perhaps North?