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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Day Trip - Thru the Andes

On the spur of the moment this morning, I decided to drive down (it's actually 'over' but since I'm coming from 8,000 ft to sea level, I'm gonna call it 'down') to Guayaquil (why I kill).   BIG MISTAKE.

I have been looking for wall sconce lights for a long time, and selection here in Cuenca is dismal.  When I was in GYE a few weeks ago to buy my car, I saw a set of lights that'd fit 92% of the bill.  Closes I've gotten.  So, I figured why not drive down there and grab 'em and hit a few other stores that interested me.  BIG MISTAKE.

It was super neat driving thru the Andes during the daytime.  The secnery is breathtaking.  Sometime I'm going to have to go for a drive strictly for the sake of the scenery and stop whenever and wherever I want and snap some pics.  But, I was on a mission, though I did bring my camera and took some shots while driving.  Ahem.  My mother (HI DONNA FRAZER!!) wouldn't like me doing that. 

Refresh course here...in case you haven't read past blogs.  GASP!!!  Spank yourself right now if that's the case.    I live at 8,000+ ft in a basin (Cuenca) in the Andes mountains.  To go to GYE, you climb to the summit of Tres Cruces (3 Crosses) which is over 13,000 ft and then descend alllllllllll the way down to sea level.  Sixty five miles of zig-zagging through the Andes before you come out at flat land.   Head spinning yet?

Anyhoo...got to GYE.  Massive traffic on a Saturday.  Why?  It's voting day.  And, it's the day before Mothers Day.  What's the big deal then?  Well, EVERYONE MUST VOTE (that is, everyone legal to vote).  So, there were busses filled to the brim and spilling out the door.  There were pickup trucks loaded with people in the back and standing on the bumpers.  There were compact cars with 8 (maybe more) people crammed in them.  There were people dressed up in their best coming down from their hill-clenching huts via worn rocky/dirt trails to vote. 

But, I mentioned Mothers Day, right?  Well, it's a tradition to visit family graves at various times of the year (Day of the Dead (Halloween) being one of them).  Unlike what we're used to in the States, cemetaries here are generally above ground and take the form of crypts.  Empty crypts look like a paper cutout of a casket profile.  If you drive by a cemetary, you see above ground structures with caskets occupying spaces and unoccupied casket-shaped openings.  There's a zillion flower vendors lining the sidewalks where friends and family select what they want and decorate their loved ones location.

So, arriving in the city of GYE (the airport acronym) I encountered tens of thousands of people semi-partying in the streets because they voted, tons of people on their way to vote, and a horrible bottlneck area next to the cemetary with a zillion people parking wherever they could and buying flowers and visiting the cemetary.  As you can guess, traffic was a nightmare. 

I really didn't know my way around, so I went with the flow and ended up in who knows where.   Finally, I decided to do a U-turn and go back the way I came in.   I made it to the same chain as the store I saw my wall sconce lights in and decided to pull in and take a look.   This chain didn't carry that style.   ARRGGH!!!   I wasn't about to try and find the other store without a map and all the chaos that was going on.  But, there was one wall sconce that passed as mediocre-plus, so I swallowed my pride and bought 3 of them.

...and a bottle of rum and my favorite wine.  NOT!!  I tried, believe me.  I needed (wanted) something to take edge off when I got home.   Remember, Sundays are 'DRY', right?  Well., come to find out, so is VOTING DAY!!!    ARRRGHH!!!   No booooooze can be sold on voting day.  Sheesh!!! 

I got back in my car and got the hell outa there!!! 

In an effort to salvage the value of my trip, on my way back, I stopped by a roadside stand that sold plants.   There are TONS of shack-like stands along the way that sell huge clusters of bananas fresh from behind the house.  This is the area where zillions of acres of bananas are grown.  But, there are also mini-plant-nurseries, too.  I bought two medium-sized plants for a total of a buck fifty.  Then, to get my sugar fix for the upcoming SIXTY FIVE miles of zig zags, I stopped and bought 2 Pepsi's and a roll of Ritz crackers for yet another buck fifty and headed for them thar hills.

So, here's a few pics I took on the way 'down' to GYE.  Not the best photos, but remember, I'm driving through the Andes mountains in Ecuador, SOUTH America, and holding a camera to my window.   (Ignore that last statement Mom).

;-)

To get an idea of scale, look at the house on the hillside (to the left just above the guardrail)





Rising above the cloud level.  The clouds were whooshing up on air currents just to the side of the road.  Then, my camera battery ran out!  !#^%$#

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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