Monday, August 8, 2011

The Devil's In The Sandwich

I hope since I left you all hanging back there in Ecuador you haven't been been frantic with worry about Dean.  Did he lick a poisonous rock?  Was he at death’s door?  No.  He may have inhaled some volcanic dust in his excitement but I’m pretty sure none of the rocks he “tasted” were poisonous.  He probably thought he was at death’s door for a while, and he did pass through a lot of doors, but they led to rooms of porcelain, not the grim reaper.

The next day, after Dean had recovered enough that we could drive without worrying about how many bathroom opportunities would be along the way, we headed to the Tungurahua volcano.

See it?

We didn’t either. 

It’s possible I might have been able to catch a glimpse if I would have given this swing a try.  I thought about it.  I could have gotten on it and swung out over a deep, deep ravine; a ravine so deep and hidden in mist that it appeared bottomless.  I could have. 

Especially if I had a chance to drink a sandwich before I got on it.  A sandwich is sugar cane juice and alcohol (aguardiente), made from sugar cane.  They squeeze the cane in a machine to make the juice as you watch and wait.  The alcohol is in those plastic soda bottles.


So none of us saw a magnificent volcano but it didn’t mean we didn’t see beauty.

As well as observing Dean’s nasty bug, we also saw a lot of stunning bugs.

Abby found most of them but even though she loves bugs, studies bugs, pins bugs, and knows all about bugs, she did not want her father’s bug.  So he tried to give it to me.  I, however, do not get sick and I refused to accept it.  Unfortunately, as we were watching this woman prepare fish for a tourist group, 
I began to suspect my body had another plan.  Later, when I was more interested in scoping out vomiting areas than the beauty of the waterfall we’d hiked to, I had to face the fact that, without my permission, my body had mutinied.  Fortunately for me, all that plastic utensil-licking paid off and I recovered quickly; unlike Dean whose bug came and went intermittently over a period of four-five days, causing a minor crisis early one morning when he asked me for  “that last Imodium, please.”  “um, well, uh, I took it yesterday.”  “What?!  I need it.”  “Mom.  Why didn’t you tell us you took it?  We could have gotten Dad more yesterday when we were near a pharmacy.”  “Uh, because I didn’t want you to know I was still a little gurgly.  Because I never get sick.”  I did feel a little bad when I saw a fleeting look of panic in Dean’s eyes. 

But, on the bright side it was just one more unexpected opportunity.  We got to watch Abby go to a pharmacy and buy drugs for her dad – in Spanish.


In between bouts of illnesses we stopped at a monkey rescue center.   Even though we took off all of our necklaces and bracelets and earrings and watches, the monkeys still found something shiny to play with.   

We were heading from Banos toward Riobamba when we had to wait 60 minutes for road construction. 


Some of the lava from the 1999 eruption of Tungurahua slid down and had taken out some of the road.  

As we waited, Dean offered gifts of thanks to the Angels of Imodium.  Okay, I made that up.  But I’m sure he was happy to know he didn’t have to search for the perfect bush in his still somewhat weakened state

The next day we drove to see Chimborazo.  I wouldn’t want to sound like I was bragging, but some people say Chimborazo is the highest spot in the world and I am the only one who made it past the little building where you could get tea or cocoa. 


I am the only one who made it up to the monument and the memorial markers placed in honor of the climbers who died.  I did not get an altitude headache.  I’m not bragging.  Really.   

 The visit to Chimborazo  was a bit of a devilish day for the lowlanders and the sickie, but the next day was a real devil – devil’s nose that is.  

Did you go to the link?  Did you read about the derailing and the bird’s eye view of the steep and dangerous cliffs you can see while you squat on top of the box cars?  

 That was not our train.  Well, it WAS our train but now it’s a tourist attraction with plush seats inside beautiful old carriages.  

A couple of years ago a couple of tourists from Japan were standing on top and were killed when they were just a little too tall to pass under a wire so there’s no more sitting on top.  But the views were still spectacular. 

At the Devil's Nose

And the Ecuadorian government is beginning the process of replacing the tracks so one day the train will go further and will be back in business as a commuter train.  I’m kind of thinkin’ the days of sitting on top are over forever though.  Too bad.  Because I know I could have done it.  I know I could have sat on the top of that train with my feet dangling off the side, and looked down – way, way down.  I just know I could have.

 For a country close to the same size as Colorado, Ecuador is incredibly diverse.  I don’t think I could come close to deciding which part of the country I liked the best.  But I can tell you that the best part of every trip we’ve taken there has been seeing these two.  

 And the worst part of every trip we’ve taken there has been saying goodbye to these two.

If you think the best part of this post is that it’s ending, you’re in luck.  And if you think the worst part of this post is that it’s ending, you’re in luck too!  Because if you are still actually sitting upright, haven’t knocked yourself unconscious when your head hit the keyboard, or shorted out your laptop from the drool that dripped down when you fell asleep, you can test your stamina and go here to see more pictures of volcanoes, here to see more waterfalls, here for monkeys, here for the train ride, here for people and here for food and markets.  But be careful if you open the food album.  Drool can dribble even if you’re not sleeping.



Leslie said...

I like all of the things you "could've" done if..... You are a pretty tough cookie. :)

Abby said...

My favorite part was the monkeys, but I guess I liked seeing you too ;-) When are you coming back? We'll have to do a beach tour next time, or Galapagos??

Art Elser said...

Nice post, Cathy. Great pictures. What a beautiful country. And beautiful kids you visit there. Somehow driving to Casper to see Al doesn't involve scenery like that. Beautiful in places, but not very green most of the year.