Hello again. I believe that I should start where I left off and that was the world of yoga…
Now, being a 19 year old chap who grew up in London, yoga and I have not been acquainted and I thought that Ecuador would be the last place I would delve into it. However, I took my gap year to explore and I plunged into yoga for an exhausting, yes exhausting, session with an Ecuadorian student, university student just to clarify, and a few of my brave companions. After being stretched this way and that and being told to do things which make you go, what!?!?!?, I completed my maiden session of yoga and was hurting in places where I normally didn’t have places. I touched my toes a few too many times for a man off my inflexibleness. So for the days following I was walking a little slower and gingerly, pardon the pun, sitting down, but this did not dampen my spirits, and I was planning my next adventure, to Loja and Vilecabamba.
Loja is a smallish city located in the south and is renowned, in Ecuador, for its Bocadillo, a type of sweet which is made of sugar, obviously, and peanuts, but there are many different varieties that can be found. I found my Bocadillo in a whopper of a Market slap bang in the middle of Loja, where they were selling a large variety of fruit, veg, meats and fish. Post Bocadillo sugar high, I headed up into the cloud forest with my pals, Tom and Richie, and went for a bit of a hike. We walked up to a peak of 3500m, which was no easy feat, and then started our descent down the ridge walk. From the ridge we could see for many a mile and all we could see was forest mile upon mile of forest, breath-taking, quite literally. When we arrived back to our hostel we were, especially yours truly, very knackered and quite happily slumped into our beds for an afternoon snooze. Post kip we set off for some food and found a very cheap place just round the corner and we had a variety of food, I had goat, tom a steak and Richie some chicken and we all had a drink, the sum total for all of us was $6, bargain. We then headed back to our beds and fell asleep watching fast and furious in Spanish, very funny.
We departed the next day for Vilecabamba, it took an hour from the centre of Loja through the countryside and into the small town. We then had a small walk to our hostel which was amazing, run by a French man it had a courtyard and plants everywhere and whilst lying in the hammock outside our room I got a view of the mountains we were riding up the next day. The rest of the day we spent recuperating from the climb by an awesome pool in a hotel just down the road which was a massive tree house structure. So cool.
The day of the riding, we were all looking forward some in anticipation and some in dread. I myself was a little nervous as I am no expert on horseback, but I do have a little experience up my sleeve. We set off from the centre of town and galloped out to the start of the trail, a river which we had to ford and then a steep mud path up the mountain, it rained heavily the day before so the path was slippery. We continued up the path for 3 to 4 hours, so we had very sore bums by lunch time. Lunch was simple but appreciated sandwiches of cheese, lettuce and tuna all in brown bread, which is very common in Ecuador. Post lunch we walked to two waterfalls one was 30ft tall and the other 100ft, with very cold water that only the mad went into, Tom and Richie. After wearing ourselves out on the two and half hour walk we were the told that we were going to fly down the mountain but before departing we munched a very tasty and very juicy pineapple. After, true to his word, we went rather rapidly down and then galloped back to the stables and slowly clambered down off our horses with the great stiffness and pain shooting up our legs and upper thighs. Great day and our last in Vilcebamba as we would be heading back to school in the evening.
Now I feel I must talk about food, yep again, because it is so good and I have been trying my hand at some Ecuadorian cooking and introducing a few English plates to my family and friends. Ecuadorian meal times are rarely without a form of maize be it boiled, Mote, fried to make popcorn, mashed up and made into pancakes then fried in oil or mashed and then steamed in their leaves, humitas. The latter was the dish that I made with the help of Claudia, the uni student, and her grandma who knows the ins and outs of all Ecuadorian cuisine. When making the humitas you start with maize on the cob and strip it, and then you mush into a paste with a hand worked machine followed by a bit of onion, oil and spices to your taste. After it was all thoroughly mixed together we stuffed the leaves of the maize and then layered them in a large pan and then steamed till the leaves turned dark purple. The results were lovely if I may say so myself, and I feel I will make them at a later date, look out England humitas are coming.
Going from the local cuisine here in Ecuador to English cuisine, the sweet sort apple crumble. In England I would eat a crumble with most Sunday lunches so being in Ecuador for the past 4 months has left me with a rather large craving. Eating that crumble after months without one was the great but the best thing was that my mum learned how to make it and has made two more since!!!
I am afraid I must leave you here, it has been a whopper of a blog today but look out for my next with markets, Corpus Christi and getting lost in a jungle!!!!!!