Back in the Saddle

Our Six Week Hiatus Complete, it’s Back in the Saddle to Life on the Road

Our six week holiday within our holiday was, somehow, in the blink of an eye, behind us.

We’d managed to take in a good smattering of what the Galapagos had to offer and, best still, our travel funds—though raided and plundered like a political slush fund–hadn’t been depleted to the point of either myself or Bec having to donate plasma.

That was the good part. As for what lay in wait for our final six weeks, we had only the general direction of north to work off of. It wasn’t much but it was enough. Or so we thought.

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Our little Trail Blazer in Banos, Ecuador

Because, very quickly we had other things to concern ourselves with.

Starting with our being kicked out of our Guayaquil hotel five hours before our scheduled check out time. This, due to a major glitch in the hotel policy that somehow saw fit to charge for their guests’ room visitors. Visitors who, in our case, merely picked up stashed gear before heading to the airport for an 11 pm flight the evening of our checking in.

The proprietor and her boyfriend were nice people but I had no choice but to point out a couple glaring facts. Namely, that this morning after the fact, 20 dollar surcharge suddenly had her room rates on par with much better located accommodation on the Galapagos.

Yes, there was no peeling paint on the ceilings and no stained sheets on the bed. The grounds of the hotel were actually quite homey, even. But let’s just say the Fort Knox like security of the front door and the barbed wire adorning the property’s twelve foot high front wall didn’t speak favourably of the savouriness of the neighbourhood we’d spent the night.

Actually, the neighbourhood had what I imagined must be a strong striking resemblance to Baghdad’s heavily fortified ‘Green Zone’. A Green Zone whose armed guards had been replaced with street corner prostitutes.

All of which more or less fell on deaf ears, as you might well imagine.

Which is how we’d end up in Guayaquil’s main bus terminal nine hours ahead of our originally intended overnight bus to the town of Tena. And how, not wanting to have to kill 8 hours in the bus terminal, we’d jump at the first bus leaving in fifteen minutes, ending up in the mountain valley town of Banos, Ecuador.

For a town that shared a name with ‘toilet’, Banos was a pleasant place. A cozy town we were happy

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Miahualli, Ecuador local

to learn was known for its thermal baths (the other meaning of the town name), waterfalls, wide selection of restaurants and karaoke bars. And a town whose mountain valley climate provided a nice reprieve from the heat and humidity of the country’s coastal area and, as for local activities, a town with a hilltop ‘mirador’ (lookout) accessible via a scenic stairway trail.

After a few days getting our bearings it was off to the Amazonian jungle port town of Miahualli. Home of aggressive riverfront monkeys and various river and Amazon village tours. One of which we’d modify to our more leisurely needs by dramatically doing away with an extra two hours of jungle trekking and adding an hour long tubing session into the equation.

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Our guide Leo

It would be a manageable five hour birthday family getaway for our Birthday gal, Momma Bec. One that was easily the highlight of our time there on the edge of a hot and humid green abyss. An abyss a liberal dosing of DEET would see us lucky to have gotten out of without having being consumed by flying, biting insects.

Little did we know, though, we weren’t out of the woods yet. No, the bugs were still to come. Two whole days later and in the most unsuspected of places.

Two days of bussing whose common denominator was easily that of

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Down the River

confusion. Confusion surrounding the ever fluctuating suggestions of misinformed bus company ticket counter salespeople regarding how to most easily cross the Ecuador/Colombia border. Two days that would involve one night unnecessarily holed up in Ibarra before the following day’s funfest. This involving 14 hours in transit (including two hours with border crossing formalities) before finally arriving in the colonial town of Popayan in the vicinity of midnight.

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Happy Camper

We were exhausted but happy. It would’ve been easy to have thrown in the towel and called it a day many hours and quite a few towns earlier.

But we’d persevered and a deep sense of well-earned satisfaction was ours as we sprawled out moments before killing the lights and calling it a night in the wee hours of the new day.

Just in time to be interrupted by the increasing itchiness of what a quick flick of the lights would incredulously reveal as none other than bed bugs.

And not just any bed bugs. Creepy, crawling and biting little creatures big enough to almost be mistaken for the liberated land tortoise hatchlings we’d only recently said bye to in the Galapagos.

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Popayan, Colombia sunset

It was late (actually very early) and we had nowhere else to go. Once again it seemed we were up a river without a paddle with the end result being we were left with the fact it was destined to be a long night.

That and the reality, the vacation was over and the hard traveling yards had officially begun again and, above all,  whatever the final five weeks of life on the road had in store for us, it could only get better from here.

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One Comment

  1. Micki February 1, 2017 Reply

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