Swiss Sisters

Okay – I know I thought I was done with it all and the next two days were going to be boring bus trips and reading books in air ports, BUT after I wrote that last entry we went for beers. It was good. Good Beer.

We walked down to the popular hostel in Cuenca, one we had initially avoided because of the noise and lack of Ecuadorian culture. Alas, we were essentially done with our trip so what the heck, we didn´t need any culture, rather we needed to start getting back into the American swing of things.

Looking at the menu, a half liter of beer cost $1.70 – the place was a little pricey, BUT what the hey, we´ll have just one and see who shows up.. perhaps someone we know.. Half way through our beer a friendly German fellow asked to join us, I presume to practice his English. He was nice enough and kept us busy chatting about anything and everything – as it turns out he too was a German Economist.. interesting. I became slowly depressed as a table of American girls had sat to dinner and were quite friendly in humoring my questions on recommendations. Unwilling to totally abandon our new acquaintance, we sat and talked, just us dudes. One beer soon became two and guacamole arrived at the table and still we talked with the German. Anticipating an uneventful night conversation dwindled and was about dead when Felix, our German friend had a visitor. A very friendly, very cute lady from Austria. Austrian.. I´ve never met an Austrian. She entered the conversation, with English, and my energy perked a bit. Then halfway through some sentence.. some unimportant excuse for attention of a sentence enter 3 more friends. Two Swiss sisters and their new Swiss friend. WOW. Eager to find enough chairs to accommodate and prevent attrition we were all back sitting within 2 min. of their arrival finished with greetings and kisses and the whole shabang.

Of course we all returned to the normal conversation – what are you doing, where you from.. yadda, yadda, yadda.. but there is a difference in talking to a glass of beer and talking to a very attractive smiling team of Swiss traveling sisters. – oh delight!

¨And by the way, those Swiss chicks were hot, like uncalled for hot.¨ – Jon

Finally two knobs in the shower!

10 hours of travel and three buses over, we´re off the farm (the farthest south we shall go on this journey) and in the third largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca. After almost three weeks of lying about, gardening, hiking, and building a bridge, we´re ready for some new sites and sounds and panama hats!

Back in time …..

* Fell a tree – stuck myself in the head with a 4 inch spine – head ache. Milked the cows – roped the cows – grabbed the bull by the horns – drew a diagram – made butter, buttermilk, sour cream, and cheese. Rode the horse – walked the horse – on the school bus – went to school – taught some English – drank with the local ´on duty´ police officer – taught more English – explained a Beatles song to 40 Ecuadorians – said the alphabet over and over again – Dos Jhons make a presence. Remembered my Boy Scout lashings – strained my back – finished the bridge. Ran out of gas – started cooking on open flame – rain – made more bread – salty bread – it´s hard tack – ´it IS nice to have a fire in the morning!**´. Packed up – cleaned up – enjoyed some cane wine with Hans – said good bye – off the farm.

To Cuenca!

The ride from Loja took us up into the southern highlands of Ecuador through rolling hills and had it not been for my ears consistent whining, the increase in altitude would have gone unnoticed. The countryside is an amalgamation of sights, smells, and sounds… I suppose such is any experience… just go with me on this one… For a bus ride it was remarkable. We passed pristine pastures, sheep, pine trees, adobe buildings next to wood sided ones next to piles of block, next to the beginnings of a new structure next to a pile of muck, workers roping cows and children chasing sheep. Every new valley had new sights and every climb out had new turns and exciting swerves and curves. ¨Gracias!¨ signaled the stop where we make a passenger drop. After 6 hours of travel we dipped into our last valley and saw only the lights of the large sprawling city. A cab ride from the bus depot to ´downtown´ via one ways, through narrow streets, and over cobblestone roads helped to make the city seem smaller than it really is. Consulting our Lonely Planet we identified a number of hostels and concluded we would do our own reviews. We soon dropped our things and went in search of some milk and Oreo cookies to accompany our television, separate mattress covered beds and quiet quarters, our reward for the long day of travel. With the church bells in the morning we woke up to the joy of the first left knobbed*** shower since leaving the states.

Nescafe and Jugo has got us ready for the day. The city is alive this morning.


* In the style of the writing of Kon Tiki – a book I´ve recently begun to read and finish (you should pick up a copy from your local library)

** Jon spent the better part of 2 frustrated hours trying to get a decent fire going… we needed hot water for coffee! As soon as fire was indeed produced (and what a fire it was!) Tina (freshly arisen from bed) strolls up casually behind us and says “It IS nice to have a fire in the morning, isn´t it?” Like King Edward IV telling his lovely maid, Lucy, “It is nice to have serfs, isn´t it!” as he enjoyes his fresh cheese and turkey.

***look at your shower at home and tell me what the left one does.