Saturday, April 24, 2010


A week ago we entered Ecuador and the mountains rose all around us. Our first night we camped out on a cow pasture with a view of a snowy volcano peak, the first snow we saw in almost a year!In the morning, as we were packing up, a local indigenous farmer Luis came up to us and invited us to drink tea at his house. The day being Sunday, all four generations of his family were home, running a few errands and generally lounging in the sun. They fed us a dietary breakfast of boiled potatoes, corn on the cob and ¨agua de cafe¨, which is hot water with a hint of coffee. We talked for a good three hours, and if it wasn´t for our determination to get back on the road, they would have held us captive all day!We arrived in Quito an hour later, connected with our CS host Alec and happyly fell asleep on her floor.
The next day, we felt sick. General malaise, stomach ache, headache, no energy, diarrhea. At first we thought it was Hepatitis A, except that we did not have yellow eyes. All the symptoms came and went as they pleased, leaving us completely exhausted. The next three days we made regular trips to the local Red Cross, doing blood and urine tests. The doctor saw us pretty much right away (and free of charge, too, thumbs up for the Red Cross!), dispelled our fears about Hep A and prescribed antibiotics and vitamins to take. We feel better now and the symptoms are less violent.
We are now waiting for a letter to arrive from Canada, and as soon as we have it, we will move on, hopefully in perfect health.
In the meantime, Anastasia made a lot of bead bracelets, and even sold her first one for three bucks, and George got himself a cheap recorder and is now terrorizing the inhabitants of the appartment with the lamely-played tunes of ¨Hey Jude¨ and ¨When I´m Sixty Four¨.
We are eternally grateful to Alec for hosting us at such a time, for it would have been terrible to live in a hostel (or even worse, to travel!) in the state that we were in.
A view from the balcony is quite spectacular, too. On clear mornings we can see the snow-covered peak of 5753 m Cotopaxi (if it wasn´t for the clouds, the volcano would have been visible on the photo to the left of the tall wire fence), on wednesday night the beer-bellied taxi drivers play volleyball, and every evening we witness high-class neighbourhood soccer matches right from our balcony. We drink herbal tea and smoothies and cheer for the teams.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Colombia part III

Despite all the warnings we have heard about Colombia, it turned out to be very friendly, polite (and clean!). The people here, quite annoyed with the stigma attached to their country in the rest of the world (Colombia=drugs and gorrillas), are doing their best to prove the opposite. In fact, several people said to us ¨Thank you for visiting our country, now you can tell your friends that Colombia is not what it is said to be, come to my house...¨This family hailed us over from our hitching spot right across from their house. Senora´s son Christian, who is not on the photo, came over and talked to us at length, he brought out for us a local brew that tasted like cider, coffee, cookies and in the end ivited us to his home to have dinner and spend the night.
Hitch-hiking was not the easiest for us here, though. Waiting times ranged from a few hours hours to a few days! Like in Panama, there are way more buses and taxis on the road, and very few big trucks and we seldomly saw a private car. When we saw one, it was usualy brand new and very expensive. Unlike in Panama, there are lots of motorcycles everywhere, which transport everything from entire families (both parents and two kids) to wheelbarrows, shovels, small trees and even washing machines.
We were enchanted by the quality and variety of Colombian bread! Yellow dough, freshly baked practically on every other corner! Often we had our breakfast in bakeries, with a cup of black coffee.
Our most favourite ride from the whole country happened to be the very last one, in the back of truck, on top of sacks of corn. The road was good and the scenery beautiful.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Colombia, part II

At one point in our journey we were feeling quite a big urge to do something physical and also something that would bring some positive and actual results... We were longing for work! We said out loud to the universe that we want to rest from the road and find a farm somewhere in the mountains where the climate is nice and COLD! Within a week our desire materialized and we were on our way to an ecological community ¨Atlantis¨, high up in the mountains.
We spent two weeks there, doing farm work, looking after goats and rabbits, cutting firewood, doing carpentry, cooking over a wood fire and thoroughly resting from the travelling and camping routine.
The community is nearly self-sustaining, producing most of what they eat, including sugar and goat cheese. They have a huge garden, lots of banana trees and a vast sugar cane field.
Strangely, we did not feel like taking a single photo on the farm, neither of the beautiful landscapes nor of the folks. Our camera is dying anyway...
During our stay, we met many neighbours, mostly native people. They came and chatted with us, all of them asking similiar questions. We also encountered a group of fully armed soldiers looking for the guerrillas in the region. They travelled in a big group and every soldier interrogated us, asking the same questions as the friendly locals, except that the locals did not have huge guns slung across their chests and big granades stashed in their front pockets. We guess they were all just bored out of their minds. Two days later, we met the guerrillas themselves, them being very armoured and very friendly with us. They shook our hands and asked how we liked Colombia. When the revolutionaries found out we were from Russia, they started smiling and telling us that they were ¨Marxista-Leninistas¨, too. We smilied in return and nodded our heads.