… and it continues
So the rainy circumstances gave extra shine to all the waterfalls that I passed during my descend from Ecuador’s Andes mountains towards Ecuador’s Amazone area. I arrived soaking wet at Jaime’s house. I received his contact details from Nancy, a Mexican women that I met earlier in Mexico and saw again in Honduras. She started with a group of seven Mexicans (for the people that remember, I cycled together with this group for a couple of days), she later continued in a duo and is currently riding solo. Jaime had received Nancy and was also willing to receive me at his terrain. Jaime works in tourism and has transformed his terrain in an amusement park. It is called ‘The Treehut’ and consists of a mini lake, a swimming pool, caves and a gigantic construction around a tree that gives a beautiful view over the jungle. He also has cabins for guests to sleep in, and I could sleep in one of those cabins.
Through the mouth towards my cabin
Jaime is an expert when it comes to mosaic, and he has constructed everything by himself. The cave includes a sauna and a Turkish steam bath and is also decorated by his beautiful mosaic style. However, it sounds better than the reality, because the high humidity caused damage to the sauna installation, so it’s all out of service. Bats have conquered the caves and it’s full of feces. It reminded me of the military bunker in Panama. Jaime told me that it’s really expensive to run the installation because of the amount of electricity that is needed.
To be honest, it feels like the caves symbolize the park’s conditions. Jaime maintains the big majority of the park together with his wife and one employee, which is just not enough to maintain a park that big. He told me that he doesn’t have the money to hire any additional employees. As a consequence, some parts of the park are slowly deteriorating. The maintenance that they carry out is just enough to keep everything open, but it surely needs a big makeover. It’s a harrowing situation and I hope that an outsider is willing to invest in the park because I think it has a lot of potential.
His terrain is bigger than the amusement park, because he also owns around thirty cows behind the park (which also requires time!). He proposed to go there and borrowed me a pair of high boots. When I think about cows, I think about a wide meadow (like it is in the Netherlands), but the ground is way too fertile for a meadow like that. The grass simply grows too fast. It was difficult to spot the cows between the high grass, incredible to see and a nice hike that took us over two little rivers.
In the meantime, Nancy did not advance a lot in the past days, so she was still very close. She was staying at a farm, and I went there the next day. It was difficult to reach, the high amount of river give an extra logistical challenge in the area (imagine for trucks!). Eventually, I adventurously crossed a river in a cable card to reach the farm, the other road would have been a very big detour.
Ready for take-off
The terrain of the farm was also huge. I met farmer Freddy, he produces Pitaya (dragon fruit), which is a kind of fruit that’s popular among Asians. He predominantly exports this fruit (via plane!) to Asian markets like Singapore and Hongkong. Nancy has stayed here for five days, I took a rest day here. The farm had a huge kitchen that contains all the equipment that you could wish for, it even had a big flat screen and audio installation so it was like a kitchen cinema. Seemed like an appropriate location to start the jungle episode of Netflix’s nature series ‘Our Planet’. What a luxury in the jungle, unbelievable!
The screen looks much smaller than it was in reality
Finca Procel, the farm's name
Nancy and I left the farm together and cycled towards the little city of Macas, about 112 kilometers further. A long day, that started incredibly rainy but the sun eventually won broke through. This dried us up, and also gave us an incredible view at the Sangay volcano that seemed to be active. Nancy had a contact in Macas where we could stay together. We could stay at Reinato and Gina. Reinato is Argentinian and they own a little cosy Argentinian restaurant. They gave us hamburgers that obviously tasted deliciously after a long day of cycling.
The active volcano in the background
This was delicious
We friendly turned down their attractive offer to stay another day in Macas, I wanted to continue and advance. They gave us a lot of fruit and nuts as nutrition for the day, incredibly kind. It already turned out to be the last day together with Nancy. Nancy wanted to continue in the Amazone region, I wanted to climb back into the Andes. I had seen enough rain and also want to train for the mountains that will come in Peru. We eventually camped out close to the intersection where we separated, and could shower and cook a meal at a point of control for illegal tree felling.
The next morning, our ways seperated immediately. I started with the toughest climbing day of my life. I almost climbed 4 kilometers today and I was really happy that I ate breakfast and bought some supplies at the little town that I passed at the beginning. After that little town, there weren’t any options to buy food along the way. Rain, beautiful nature, but no shops. That really surprised me. I arrived just before dark at a tiny restaurant, I got told that they had rooms as well. I was willing to pay for some comfort after today. After a shower with lukewarm water and a big plate of food, I immediately fell asleep. We were in the clouds, so that made it pretty cool. I only cycled 70 kilometers today, but it was still one of toughest days. It was extremely beautiful again, though, here some pictures:
Together with Nancy at the little village where our roads seperated
Sleeping in was not an option, because I had another tough day of 110k ahead of me. I wanted to arrive in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador’s third city. Gina had given me the address of her mother’s house in Cuenca, and told me that there was plenty of room for me as well. The weather was much better today and I left the dark and rainy clouds of the Amazon region behind (and below!) me and had a beautiful sunny day. Another day of sunscreen because I’d burn alive without it.
The last one-and-a-half hours were not very relaxed, because I hate to enter big cities by bike. I arrived at the end of the afternoon at the house of Gina’s mother, Magy. It indeed was a very big house and I got my own room and bathroom. After some very tough days of climbing, I could take two rest days here that I used, amongst others, to write about my past experiences.
Enough text for now. Would be great to bundle all my stories one day and make a book about it. Suggestions for book titles are always welcome!