Cuyabeno Reserve, Ecuador... Starting the Jungle Tour!
Apr 18, 2005
|Very impressive time keeping by Yat - Iris and I arrived at the travel agency at 6pm on the dot, as arranged. From there, the helpful salesman Enrique was to take us to the bus terminal and help us buy a ticket for the 7pm overnight bus to Cuyabeno. "Well, we could have made it there by ourselves", I thought, but doesnt matter, since we had to pick up our bags from the hostel first anyhow (only around the corner).
Turned out lucky we did, as a road going into the Old Town (near the bus station) was closed, due to the political crisis (mentioned earlier). First Enrique's uncle's tried to taxi us, but was no contest for the thick line of traffic. Then it was a U-turn back to the office, before attempting another route. He drove us to the Trolley (an overstreet bus system) stop, where we ran for the bus. Of course, we didnt have the correct change, so missed the departing trolley. Tranquillos!!
Was lucky, as the next approaching bus was empty, and we followed Enriques instruction of "Push, girls, push!!", and managed to find a free space to stand and defend our backpacks. Many many stops passed, as we anaylsed our fellow passengers faces, to detect any signs of anxieties regarding the political crisis. All we could conclude was that they were stressed, and fed up of being squeezed like sardines on the trolley. We also got ourselves worried about passing through Lago Agrio, a town near the Columbia border, where the Lonely Planet described to be a safe haven for the neighbouring guerillas. And got ourselves even more worried about possible road blocks etc... so we decided on giving a copy of our passports to Enrique to leave in the office, "in case something should happen, and to take it to the British Embassy"...
When the trolley finally arrived at the station at 7pm, we ran and ran after Enrique, who led the way into the bus station to buy us a ticket for the 7:15pm bus. Despite my best running with backpack fully loaded (and its not because it is too heavy, simply am not good at running!), we missed the bus...
Tranquillos! There was another bus leaving at 9:30, which would mean wouldn't have to scoff down dry bread (the jam dropped out during the running) on the bus. Enrique and his colleague Andres (who accompanied two Dutch girls to the station successfully for the earlier bus) kindly stayed with us for the next couple of hours until our bus was to leave. They did it out of their own free evening time, and we returned their kindness by buying them dinner to eat with us. Thus, got to practice lots of Spanish (Andres was a non-English speaker)! On the way to the bus (when the hour arrived), was very very happy to finally hear the "Gasolina" song after two days in Ecuador!
The bus was a lot smaller than I had expected, but we had the front seats with lots of leg room. Iris has been fighting back fatigue for the last two hours, and I further annoyed her by being inspired with lots of conversational topics. But when it was clear she wasn't going to register very much, I contented myself with the excellent view of the front windscreen, as we sped out of the Quito highway.
What did I notice on this foggy night? The highway was pretty curvy. The clouds hung low onto the road, reducing visibility (but not the speed of the bus). Apparently walking on the side of the highway is not prohibited, as saw two separate incidents (including a solo walker). The driver, the co-driver and the conductor sprung off the bus on a random curve for a piss stop. A pair of dogs coupling. A horse walking across, oblivous to the bus swerving around it.
I did finally follow Iris example and sleep, but woke up periodically to see stunning landscapes of mountain outlines silhouetted against the bright clear night sky (yes, there was the moon - half full, and lots of stars). Also saw the gentle bubbling of white rivers flowing over rocks down from the mountain, shiningly white in the dark. And no, it wasn't Iris dream that there was a hunky soldier contempulating whether to board the bus and check our documents or not, that did actually happen (though he didnt check anything).
Not much more after this, as I decided sleeping on the bus wasnt too bad afterall, when all I wanted was to sleep, sleep and sleep...