Chronicles of the Wayward Moot

WELCOME TO THE MOOT, oh world-wanderers and word-whisperers. After two years of Peace Corps. After 2,200 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. What. Comes. Next?

25/05/2006


So I promised I'd post the photo of where that cow fell off the hill. Not much I could say in this caption that's funnier than what happened, so I'll just let the photo speak for itself. There is no photo of the buzzard-eaten punchline, so please don't ask for that.

An orchid from around here. The only thing more amazing than the color of the petals is the smell it gives off. Wow.

Here's another shot of a hard working Chiva, this time as it's dropping us off to hike up to Laguna Chinchilla. When we were on our way back down into the valley a few hour slater, the weather was remarkably different, as you will see.

Here's what the view is like from the side of the Chiva when the clouds come in. Palm trees, orchid-draped podocarp trees, landslides, barbed wire fences, and cows in the mist . . . for two or three hours, depending on how bad the conditions are. Oh, and with VERY loud Ecuadorian pop music playing on the stereo. People try to talk to me and when I don't understand them they think I'm either really bad at Spanish or simply retarded. The truth is that after ten minutes of Caramelo Caliente blasting on the Chiva's speakers full volume I can't hear ANYTHING.

And anyways, when the roads look like this, I'd prefer it if the driver keeps his eyes straight ahead instead of trying to make conversation. This particular spot is just one big landslide that they keep bulldozing over every time it drops. Apparently there have only been two bad accidents in the fifteen years that the road has been in existence and neither was here. Whatever. This is at about ten thousand feet and the slope off the cliff doesn't start to even out until about two thousand feet below, so I will keep my healthy level of skepticism for the abilities of the drivers right here.

A story about a driver I met the other day: His name is Darwin. (Darwin Awards naturally came to mind...) He's 25. He's been driving these roads carrying passengers for 15 years.

-Let that sink in.-

He's been driving passengers on these roads (see above photograph) since he was NINE.

-Let that sink in.-

Now another story. While I was riding up front with Darwin the other day, we entered a small mountain village. I didn't know who it was at the time, but when we came into the village a man holding a bottle stumbled slowly into the middle of the road and held up his bottle-free hand in a HALT motion. We skidded to the requisite halt, and as the dust cloud billowed up around the Chiva, the man ambled around to the driver's side window and proceeded to take a plastic cup out of his shirt pocket, fill it up with hard liquor, and then shove it at Darwin with a less than toothy grin. D takes the cup with a half-worried look, then with a flash of self-congratulation in his eyes, he hands the cup to me with a smile. "Hell, I'm not driving," I thought to myself. I took the cup, wiped the rim with my shirt sleeve, and downed it. "Better I get sick than the driver drinks and we all die." I handed the empty cup to the man outside and thank him as Darwin asked me how it was. "Bien, bien, está bien," I answered with a grimace. But the fun isn't over yet. The man is refilling the cup. He's handing it back into the window. Dude, don't do that. No Darwin, please don't, don't drink the--- Darwin licks his lips as the liquor heads towards his stomach. Now that we've both satisfactorily let it down the hatch, the man staggers to the side and lets us continue, waving and smiling. Darwin lets me know that we've just encountered his uncle.

We're riding a truck on a winding cliffside dirt road prone to landslides, and the driver just took a huge shot of something that they could use for aviation fuel. You know you're in Ecuador when ...


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