Saturday, March 19, 2005 - Chugchilan to Quito, the southern Latacunga Loop

Coffee this morning just didn't quite do the trick, so we decided to take a ride on the Black Sheep's 100-yard zipline! Woo-hoo! That worked better than coffee ever could!

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Jana on zipline! Woo-hoo!

Last night we arranged to hire a truck to take us as far as Zumbahua, and this time we found two other couples to share the cost, so it was just $6 per person. The other four wanted to visit the Saturday Zumbahua market, but we just wanted to catch a bus to Latacunga and then on to Quito. The bus from Chugchilan to Zumbahua leaves at 3:00 a.m. on Saturdays. Yeah, right.

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Chugchilan

I expected a pickup truck again today, but a much larger truck pulled up at the bottom of the driveway, the kind used to haul cargo (or maybe livestock). We hustled down the driveway and loaded up, two in the cab and four in the back. Tom and I, of course, opted for the thrill ride outside. From there you get a much better view of the truck tires inches from the edge of the cliff. At the very front of the cargo area, two 2-by-10s were slung across the bed of the truck where we could stand and hang out of the truck. So we rode clinging on for dear life in the cold open air for the one and a half hour ride to Zumbahua. Outstanding fun! Several times we had to duck under branches or power lines to keep from losing our heads. You couldn't beat the view!

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Our chariot to Zumbahua

The ride was so bumpy and curvaceous and our perch so tenuous that I was only able to let go with one hand a couple of times long enough to take a picture. Tom kneeled down on the boards for a little while and was able to take a few more. Open air is the only way to ride!

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Iliniza twin peaks

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Cacti along the southern Latacunga Loop

We saw the market in Zumbahua, but we did not participate. It was very colorful, as always, but we just wanted to catch a bus. Buses allegedly leave from here every half hour for Latacunga. Almost an hour after we saw a bus leaving from the very spot we were waiting, an English-speaking Ecuadorian young man named Byron, age 25, informed us we were waiting in the wrong place. He walked us to our bus and secured us the last two "seats," located on the engine block. So we rode for two hours backwards and crowded, but at least our butts were warm! Byron didn't want anything from us but a chance to practice his English, and we appreciate him taking us under his wing. This southern portion of the Latacunga loop is not nearly as scenic and amazing as the northern portion, but it is still gorgeous by any other measure, and has the added advantage of a paved road!

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Zumbahua

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Sunday market

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"Two women, one truck"

At Latacunga we transferred to another bus for the last two hours to Quito, and this time we got actual seats. It was overcast today and raining off and on, so we didn't get to see Cotopaxi. From the terminal terrestre in Quito we took a taxi back to Hotel Cayman. Cayman has eleven rooms, and now we've stayed in three of them. This room has two twin beds instead of a double bed and is practically in the kitchen. It's not as nice as the others, but it will do. It's nice to have indoor plumbing again!

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View from our window, Hostal Cayman

I needed a real meal after the weird offerings last night, and we were lucky enough to discover another Mexican restaurant, Tu Madre. It was very good and very economical. We had two beef burrito platters and three beers for $8.16. Since it was Saturday night, we walked around our neighborhood, La Mariscal, a bit and found where the bars and the action are. Then we again didn't participate and instead returned to our hotel.

 

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