As a result I have hundreds of photos waiting to be published because they pile up quickly but I'm not so quick about sitting down and writing a blog for them!
Today, maybe I'll make a small dent.
The vast majority of expats who move here don't end up owning a car. They don't want the things that go along with car ownership...maintenance/repair costs, insurance, parking, licensing, etc. And/or they fear driving here. With the latter, I always say if you can drive in LA, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas, Sequim, Chicago, etc....you can drive here. It's not that bad, just a few rules to remember.
For me, I can't IMAGINE constricting my lifestyle to a hypothetical perimeter line drawn around my home in which I can only access those things I can walk to or take a taxi or bus to. Outside of that line is, for the most part, seldom reached.
I mean, C'MON, I'm living in Cuenca....Ecuador....SOUTH America!!! There's a lot to explore!!! It's not like I moved from Seattle to Portland!!
My Sunday afternoon drive to Cotijambo (coh-tee-hahm-boh).
I drove this route some time ago. It takes you to the Cotijambo mountain which is my favorite hill/mountain in Ecuador. Why? Because, from a distance, it looks like something out of Dr Seus. A little like The Cat in the Hat's hat?
Cotijambo (the mountain and the village named after it) is only about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Cuenca. The first 30 kms is via the recently widened, smooth, autopista (like a freeway). When you reach Azogues, you turn off the autopista onto a 2-lane rural, paved road headed for Cotijambo and onward to Deleg. Keep going and you end up driving a loop back to Cuenca via Ricaurte.
On its flanks are Incan ruins. What I didn't know is you can actually drive up to the top of the mountain. That's the part I didn't do before because I didn't know about the 1 lane dirt road.
So, off I went to experience the top of Cotijambo.
|Cathedral of Azogues|
|The church of Cotjambo|
I found the little road that I had missed the last time. I didn't need 4WD but it was handy as I wound up the hill via several switchbacks. What a vista along the way. I could see half the province!
Just before the top, I passed flat grassy areas woven amongst the ruins, where people plunked down for a Sunday pic-uh-nick.
At the top was a small parking area. There was a short, dilapidated wood 'barrier' between me and straight down. Aside from that, there were NO safeguards, no warning signs, NADA to keep one from stumbling and falling straight down to the village below. Another example of 'take your own risk and therefore, take responsibility for your own actions'.
|Looking down at the town of Cotijambo and the church I just came from.|
|Looking off to the right.|
|Looking off to the left.|
|At the top, looking out towards the city of Azogues.|
|See that flag pole at the top of that thar hill? That's where I was when I took the previous photo.|
Back in the car, down the hill, and back to the village, I took this shot looking back from where I came.
Til next time.....
For those of you who want to get 'out there' but don't own a car here, there's still hope for you. Check out Cuenca Car Share online. Juan and David have a handful of new/new-ish cars for rent at far less cost than renting from Avis or Budget and the like. Their cars are ALREADY INSURED so there's no gouging on extra fees. Regular tax (verus city tax, airport tax, user tax, special tax, and football stadium tax) is the ONLY tax. Then, a small amount per KM. It's a very affordable way to 'get up and get away' for a couple days, a week, or whatever. Don't know your way around? They can provide a GPS. And, all you need is a valid drivers license (from wherever). Oh, and they have a presence in Quito as well!
Click here to see Cuenca Car Share's website!!
Or...there's plenty of private drivers for hire here and many of them speak English. Cost is about $12 an hour which includes their time, gas, wear/tear on car, waiting, etc. Gringo Post is an excellent resource for finding drivers. Just go to the website CLICK HERE and do a search for "driver". You'll see many of them listed as recommendations by others who've used them before. Using this forum helps to reassure you on reliability and safety concerns.
Get some friends together and split the costs!