Friday, 9 August 2013

Ecuador By Bug: Once Again, Cuenca to Yunguilla Valley

Fred & Sigred got out of Cuenca around 10 o'clock in the morning and, as per usual, the weather got warmer and warmer as they approached the Yunguilla Valley.

They got there in good time (it took about an hour and a half) but when they arrived at Sol y Agua the rooms were all booked up!  They've been there several times before during the week and never had any problem getting a accomodation, so they were quite surprised.  Fred asked if they had any recommendations as to other places in the Valley that were nice and the young lady behind the counter, wrote down 3 suggestions for them. 

They then went on a meandering quest trying to find a place called Canaan "The Promise Land" (the missing "d" at the end of Promise, displayed on several pieces of signage, drove Sigred nuts)  but when they finally found it, no one was around to open the gate to let them in despite honking their horn and shouting "Hola!". 

So, off they went to the next place on their list called Jardin del Valle but they too were booked up!  Apparently there was some sort of convention in the valley and thus the minor chaos.

The last place on the list provided by Sol y Agua was Hosteria Los Cisnes "The Swans" and the young woman had provided explicit instructions as to how to find it - which was good because there was no signage until ultimately they had gone quite far down a tiny steep winding dirt road. The gate this time had a buzzer which prompted a pleasant young woman to come and let them in.

They were offered a $30 room or a $40 room.  They ended up taking the $40 because the bathroom was much much nicer and also there was a small breakfast table & two chairs in that room. Then... there was quite the schmozzle trying to ask if they had internet or wifi. Sigred concluded they didn't because young woman did not understand the terminology "wifi" at all.  So hot, a bit frustrated after their searching, and more than a bit worn out (they're old you know), they lay down on their smallish double bed while Sigred fiddled with her iPad (off line) and Fred & Princess napped.

Ultimately, as previously advised by the nice but somewhat confused young woman, the manager came back late in the afternoon and provided them with the 'wifi' password and indicated the small area where it worked.  Sigred was very pleased!

That evening they went out to the relatively new Coopera for dinner.  Sigred had fried fish and Fred had shrimp (his second choice as they were out of langostino). The meals were tasty and gigantic but essentially comida tipica. Several cats were in evidence and a youngish black one decided that it really wanted a taste of Sigred's fish and set out quite aggressively to get some. 

The waitress of course, shooed the cat away, but Sigred didn't really mind and gave the animal several tasty pieces.  At one point, the cat put his legs up on Sigred's lap, where Princess was sitting, quite indulgent until this incursion.  Princess imperiously gave the cat a hearty "what for" warning growl!

The cat only barely backed off.

Cost for 2 meals, a large beer and a mora juice drink was $18 which included a $2 tip.

Back in their room that evening, it was a battle between Sigred, Fred & Princess and a small hoard of mosquitos.

(Never play mind games 
with any/one/thing that has a mind 
smaller than your own.  
The smaller mind will always win!) 

They had gone to bed with the window open, but got up in about half an hour and closed the window and then spent 20 minutes slaughtering little beasts (many bursting with blood) all throughout the room.

The morning dawned with small spots of blood all over the walls, their sheets, the floor etc. demonstrating what a horrendous battle it was. The entire family had dozens of bites on their legs and arms but even so, they had all slept well.  (Dead to the world and thus a banquet for their flying company.)

After rising they all went for a walk in the neighbourhood taking lots of pictures of the scenery and upon returning to their room spent the rest of the morning just enjoying the country quiet and warm weather. 

After Fred's nap that afternoon, they spent the rest of the day, on lawn chairs near the front office, reading, checking the internet, wandering the grounds and just basically vegging out.

There were four puppies on the premises that one day would be quite large dogs; all white, all heartbreakingly cute, all terribly fascinated by Princess in their realm.  Princess was surprisingly indulgent of them and in the end they had several jolly good romps.  Father Dog came out just once to make sure Princess was OK, stamped his approval on her and we never saw him again.  Mom we never glimpsed. 

That evening Fred, Sigred & Princess ventured out in the Bug and found a comida tipica place that provided the best breaded shrimp and fried plantain Sigred had ever eaten!  Unfortunately, about 40 minutes after they got back to the Hostel Sigred got "sick" like she does when she's had MSG so that might the reason it tasted so good.

During the middle of Sigred's "sick" she discovered the water had ceased to function. Apparently this happens on a fairly regular basis and the staff couldn't say when it would resume working (cue expressive Spanish shrug here). So Fred filled up a couple of large bottles with water from the pool so they could use it to flush the toilet and of course, they already had drinking water which they'd brought with them. 

Note:  For the entire day a rather large black spider had spent his time up in a corner of their room, not moving one centimeter during day light.  That evening, they watched a downloaded show on their ipad with the lights out in their room and Sigred noted, when the lights were back on, that the giant black spider had moved about 6 feet.

"OMG!"  she asked Fred.  "Will it come and get us during the night?"

The next morning (water back on) the family awoke at about 6:30 and lounged around for a while.  Fred got up around 7 o'clock to take Princess for her morning pee and while he was away Sigred got everything packed up.  Thus they were able to get on the road quite early and home in Cuenca before they would normally even step out the door for their regular day's adventure.

Sigred had made a point of checking the walls in their Hostel room to see about the mosquito carnage and noted that almost all of the corpses were gone.  Fred figured the spider did the clean up. 

On the highway travelling back to Cuenca, Fred & Sigred had their usual "Ecuador" moments:  A cab slowed down and put on it's right turn signal only moments before turning, thus Fred had to swerve a bit to the left hand side of the road, only to swerve immediately back because a large bus was passing them and had given a loud courtesy honk.

Another example is a Police truck passing them on a blind curve. 

"Mind you, all curves are blind aren't they?" Sigred commented.

Fred pretty much agreed.

Home again, home again, Sigred unpacked, Fred had a long soak, Sigred put calamine lotion over her entire body trying to stop the itching from the 1,365 mosquito bites she had, and they then spent the rest of the day in self-satisfied puttering.

The above might sound like Fred, Sigred & Princess didn't enjoy their holiday.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  They came back happy and rested, albeit, someone itchy; that sliding from the shoulders of every day pettiness & worries accomplished.  It does, however, demonstrate that a "perfect" North American mind-set is not perfectly at home in Ecuador. 

A previous trip to the Yungilla Valley can be found at:  Ecuador by Bug:  Cuenca to the Yungilla Valley

Ecuador by Bug:  Cuenca to Yunguilla Valley