Chapter 15::Table of Contents::Chapter 17

Chapter 16
Otavalo Part 2
Mojandas Hike
To Quito

SAT DEC 16,

Awoke late to a sunshiney morn.

Grabbed the camera gear and headed down the street toward the market. I spotted Chris and PCV Ed #2 sitting in a cafe. I went in and joined them for a good breakfast. Chris stashed his gear in our room and then we went off to the market together. We didn’t spot any one [1] so walked back to Mama Rositas. There they were. So N, Chris, Dan Ben, & I headed back to the market. N. bought 2 nice embroidered shirts. Then he and Chris went off to the food market to by buy food for our upcoming hike. Dan and I photo’d for a while then went back to our Pension.

There we met up again with Chris and Ben. Today was Ben’s last day in South A. We talked a lot about what it’s like to be going back. Ben doesn’t want to go back to traffic and pollution. We packed up our gear for the hike to Lagunas de Mojandas, 15 k away. Dan, Chris, N & I were going. Ben had to get back to Quito on Sunday to fly to Miami. Dan & Ben said good by after 4 mos. of traveling together. They shook hands on the street corner. As we walked away Ben implored us to “watch those turds” for him. [2]

We stopped to buy some Gutig water and we were on our way up. Walked out of town to the SW and immediately started up hill. We walked along a steep cobblestone drive. After about an hour we were stopped by an old man sitting along the road. He implored us to sit and talk with him. He started telling stories and we listened for a few minutes. The old man told us we wouldn’t get to Mojandas until 9:30. Our excuse to start walking. We walked up and up. Beautiful valley vistas could be seen through doorways in the mud walls lining the road.

Soon the switch-backs began. We walked steadily up hill for 4 hours. [3] My heels were beginning to blister. On our way we encountered a lady in a truck. She told us the lakes were 30 min away. [4] We took a break and got high. Then we met some Indians who said the lakes were 45 min away. Then we met a kid on a horse who told us 2 more hours. He knew - he was going there.

2 more hours of hard uphill marching through beautiful landscapes. I noted the fact that we were looking over, not up, at the clouds. The final 45 min was more or less level but this did little to help my by now broken blistered heels. Decided to get a T-shirt with “Give a blister a break - Take a walk” on the back.

We finally limped into the little public shelter at the lake shore. Chris broke out the McKenzie and Dan fired up the stove. The same kid with the horse that we met on the road lives right up the hill from the shelter. We drank and ate a good dinner of tuna surprise and cookies. I retired to throbbing heels and a racing heart. It took me a long time to fall asleep.

Sun DEC 17,

Awoke this morn and took a close look at my heels.

Both had blistered and broken open. I cut away as much of the dead skin as I had to to put on a bandage. I taped up both heels and put on the boots. I walked like Frankenstein, unable to bend at the heels and stiff in knees & hips. I broke out our stove and proceeded to make a maximum dose of Terranaut Glop with bananas & Arrope de Mora. Gooood.

Since being awakened by a crying baby and the little kid from yesterday stomping across the wooden floor outside, we were not without the 2 kids watching us, either thru the window at first, or right in the door later on. The little girl watched us make and eat breakfast. Afterwards we still had some uneaten pieces of bread. So I offered one to the little girl. Her eyes lit up and she munched down. I gave another piece to her older brother, along with the rest of our bottle of A. de M. Later as we were almost packed and ready to go - I took a group photo of the 4 of us , and of us with the 2 kids.

We got underway about 9AM. I limped behind the rest, taking pics and trying not to think about how much my feet hurt. Once the trail started heading steadily downhill, I did fine. We stopped along the way for an orange break and as we were stopped, we saw 3 little kids rolling down the road on a little 4 wheeled cart. They whizzed right by, not suffering at all from blisters.

A little later we stopped for our pineapple break , I pealed the skin off but in so doing dropped the fruit into the dirt. Nothing serious - easily wiped off. The last hour of the downhill was the steepest and most tiring. [5] I now had blisters on the front of my feet from downhill and my legs were feeling rubbery. But we made it. We dropped off our stuff at the Pension and I was barely able to limp over to the rest. Central for lunch. It took 41/2 hrs coming down.

Back from lunch we got Chris Cotton’s address. He split to go back to the lake. N & I got stoned and spent the afternoon reading & writing. Dan moved into Chris’ old room here at the Pension. He, N, Eve & Ann all went off to eat Chinese. My feet were too sore to put on shoes so I stayed behind. N brought me a can of tuna & some bread for dinner. We settled the meal and retired.

By now Ben should be back in the States.

MON. DEC 18,

Awoke to sore feet and aching calves.

I put Iodine and some other disinfectant on my wounded heel (the rt one’s the worst) last nite before sleep. Today it’s drying up but there’s still a hole in my heel. In walking down hill yesterday I blistered both big and little toes - but not badly.

We spent the morn lounging about and packing up all our stuff. We said good by to Dan and planned to meet up again in Bolivia in May. I taped up my heel again this time with the Ace bandage over the top to help cushion. We picked up our overloaded backpacks, complete with sweaters, shirts, blouses, blankets, and another bottle of Arrope de Mora.

First a stop to return our coke bottles and then out to the PanAm. No sooner had we gotten to the road than a little pick up pulled over into the gas station near by. He would take us to Quito. We piled ourselves and our packs (just enough room) into the back and took a quick ride to Quito - shooting moving photos from the back of the truck. The only problem was that the ride let us off at the far north end of Quito.

We pulled our packs to the side of the road and started hitching again. It was lunch hour and many businessmen with ties and empty pick ups passed us by. Finally a guy pulled over and gave us a ride to within 2 miles of the Gran Casino. But my feet were unable to take even that short a walk so we hired a cab (40 S) for the same cost as the bus from Otavalo to Quito. Arrived at the Casino and checked in. All our stored stuff was just as we left it.

N & I ate an uninspired lunch here. Then N. went off to check on film and mail. I stayed back and began reading “Centennial”. N returned somewhat later. Our film is in and he got a start at the paperwork. He also got a copy of “Gravity’s Rainbow” and picked up a letter for me from home. A rather depressing letter about sick cats and people. Just what I needed to cheer me up.

We read for a while and then about dinner time N went back out to try and find Eve and Ann at the Guayaquil #2 and then to eat. I told him to bring me a crust of bread and retired to read. After a while I opened up a box of Galletas de Coco and munched. We’ve been living on these cookies and Coka-cola ever since leaving the Galapagos.


[1] We looked in Allie Maquies. Doris, Jr.,  Sheri, Jr. #2 and another lady with kid were there.

[2] Remember Ben’s “Loodie Nooo” and characteristic hand gesture

[3] with every new turn we looked for the top   

[4] (By truck, we later figured)

[5] Aside from the pain, the walk back was more beautiful than the walk up. Nice sunshiney day. I got into the Zen of walking and felt tranquilified as only time away from civilization can do.

Chapter 15::Table of Contents::Chapter 17