I awoke from my slumber feeling relieved. My fears of being violated by cockroaches during the night did not come to fruition and, to my surprise, I had slept peacefully. Of course that could be due to my position in the hammock. Zach might not have been so lucky, as he had offered to sleep on the bare wooden floor beside me. It was the first day of our jungle adventure and we were staying in the house of our guide, Guillermo.
We had driven more than 30,000 miles up to this point. We’d traveled for 14 months, through 12 countries on two continents and crossed the open sea. Still, traversing the imaginary line that divides the earth’s northern and southern hemispheres is about as anticlimactic a milestone as they come. Actually, on our first time across, I was sleeping in the passenger seat when Zach said, “I think we just crossed the equator.” “Can we come back tomorrow?” I pleaded groggily. I couldn’t be bothered to wake up for the momentous occasion.
The market in Otavalo, Ecuador was by far the most impressive we’ve seen since Guatemala. On market day when the market swells with vendors from surrounding towns the produce market alone would challenge in size any that we have seen in South America so far and that was just a third of what they had to offer. In addition to produce there was a handicraft market and an animal market where you could buy everything from pets to livestock. Markets are fun. They are a playground for every single one of the senses. For this reason I have chosen to include most of the pictures we took that day to try to convey some of that experience. Enjoy!
We spent two days in and around the town of Salento just on the outskirts of the zona de café. The draw to Salento, aside from its charm, is the Valle de Cocora. The cocora are the world’s tallest wax palms and can crest over 200 feet. The valley is home to groves of these spindly trees that stand tall and proud compared to the short vegetation that surrounds them. After exploring some of the valley on foot we hopped back in the van and headed into the heart of coffee country. The plan was to find a coffee finca to park for the night, maybe on a hill with a view of the surrounding area, maybe with access to bathrooms, and maybe just maybe a place where we could buy a couple of pounds of fresh Colombian Arabica. It’s possible we were asking for a tall order, but if we didn’t set the bar high we would always end up settling in a gas station for the night and we have learned to love the fight. We have not only developed high expectations of where we camp but we have discovered that the act of finding that perfect place is itself a large part of our adventure.