Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador — Ryan

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It’s been a long time since I last posted. A lot has happened. I have been busy. I almost missed the entire country of Ecuador.

I had to check my website to see where I last left off.

I have a couple of gigabytes of photos to sort through; I haven’t uploaded yet. I dislike scenic photos—they hold no artistic value beyond a certain point. Anyone can go to a beautiful place, like Andean Colombia, and take a good photo. There’s no challenge. I don’t want to look through a book of photos of beautiful, over saturated landscapes. I much rather would look through a book of interesting and unique photographs—ones that capture a unique and interesting point of view.

^This, is my paragraph explaining why I don’t plan on uploading many scenic photos. If you want to see them, I’ll be happy to email them to you, or, better yet, come over to my house. But I don’t want a website filled with mediocre photos of excellent, albeit uncaptureable, subjects.

I have ~3GB of photos to sort through, then once I have the good ones, I need to mark them up digitally, adjust color spectrums, or the lack there of, adjust settings… Then to upload them, I have to condense the 5MB files and put a stamp on them. It’s an arduous and time consuming process especially when I have so much other stuff to deal with.

Enough with photos.

I have a new dog. Her name is Lucy—or maybe Salchi. It’s actually both, she’s confused enough already, why not add another thing? I found her in Otavalo, where she started following me in the town square. I’m nice to animals, I give food to stray dogs if I see them when I go out for lunch, those sort of things. But I didn’t do anything to Salchi when she started following me. She followed me, my brother and my dad five or six blocks one night to a restaurant, then found me again when I walked by the square. The next day she followed me all day long, sleeping under our trailer. It was really impressive for a stray dog, let alone any dog. The second day, I went out to the square to ask if she was anyone’s pet—she wasn’t.

It’s a bad idea to take a stray dog from urban Ecuador. That’s where we were for a few days. But she was extremely well behaved, and she followed me for four miles the one day while I walked all over the city. I asked the veterinarian across the street if he neutered dogs and gave vaccinations; that would come to $120 total, he told me. We decided to get Trek fixed as well, and that we were going to keep Salchi.

These two operations have consumed my past week almost entirely. I already wrote an incredibly dry page on it for my Veterinary Science class. In summary, the vet screwed up Trek’s surgery, never sealed off the blood vessels, and didn’t put stitches in. I got him to put some in after the fact, but it was a little late, and the stitches were awful. Trek broke them open three times before we left Otavalo. I took Trek to a Veterinarian in Latacunga, and she put in another set of sutures and gave him half a dozen different medications. But Trek broke those stitches open. Now I’m going to head into town today or tomorrow to try to find surgical glue. Because it’s so much fun to try to communicate something that may not even exist down here. I had to ask eleven people in Latacunga for directions to the vet. But doesn’t it seem like surgical glue might be more common down here? The FDA didn’t approve it in the States until; the late 90s, but it had already been in use in the rest of the world since the 1970s.

So, in Otavalo, I lost a dog, then gained a dog, then had a dog injured by an incompetent veterinarian.

Salchi seems to be a really great dog so far. She’s small, she has Doberman Pinscher eyes (though it’s not unattractive) and an almost Siberian Husky body/coat. She’s about thirty-some pounds because she’s really overweight—she subsisted almost entirely off of French fries in Otavalo—but she should be about twenty when she’s down to a normal size. She’s about sixteen inches tall at the shoulder.

We left Otavalo late in the day because of veterinary problems, and made it to the other side of Quito by about 8:00pm. Quito looked beautiful, but we couldn’t stop because the trailer was too unwieldy. We stayed at a gas station covered with beetle carapaces—piles of them, all about the size of a penny.

The next day we got to Latacunga. We saw a Ford Dealership on the way in, so my dad stopped to see if they sold leaf springs for the van. The rest of us went to the huge mall to wait. I got my Claro problems sorted out at an office there, so I now have data on my iPhone. I also realized that my Galaxy S II retails for $1100 down here, and my iPhone 3Gs would probably get $600. Anyone from South America who’s reading this: I paid $150 for my iPhone used, and $200 for my Galaxy S II. I’m not nearly that rich. The mall in Latacunga had a fast food cuy restaurant named “King Cuy” and wallpapered with anthropomorphic guinea pigs.

Someone offered to fix our van for cheap, so we drove it down the road about 500 meters to his shop, and waited. About this time, we decided that Trek needed more medical attention, so I left to look for a veterinarian. An hour and a half later I found one, then called a cab back to get Trek. Once I got the dog to the veterinarian it took about two hours. He needed to be anesthetized again for more stitches, and he had several more injections. I bought him an e-collar, which it turned out was two inches too short.

We left Latacunga late and drove to a gas station where we could park for the night, about an hour’s drive from Banos.

Banos, had giant spiders. I haven’t seen many bugs since I’ve been down here, the Washington DC greenbelt still holds the Western Hemisphere record for incredible amounts of bugs. Nothing has even come close. But Banos did have very large spiders. I saw a two-inch, yellow one in a web near the ground while walking my dog, at which point I decided the walk was now over, and then turned around to see a 4+ inch spider run under a rock. At that point, I had had enough of Banos for quite some time.

We drove down the valley that day, and then took a spontaneous detour to the Amazonian city of Tena—something you can do when gas is a dollar a gallon. It was a great trip, completely exotic. Somehow, we had managed to drive from Cartagena to here without actually seeing the rainforest. It was like being in a completely different country. One website described it as a town where Indiana Jones would stop for supplies before venturing into the jungle. It’s an apt description if Indiana Jones also had a passion for cellphones and playing MMORPGs or updating facebook at one of the numerous internet cafes. Tena even had this awesome rickety suspension footbridge made out of rusting steel beams and heavy steel chains over a jungle river. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there as we wanted to get back to Banos by dark, and it was a two hour drive away.

Back in Banos, we spent the night in a parking lot and got up the next morning to go to the thermal baths, then we left town. We spent that night in the parking lot of the oldest church in Ecuador that was also the cross roads for the mountain highway and the coastal highway. We decided to go through the mountains the next morning to avoid the coast. It turned out to be a good idea, and we drove for several hours through what looked like a mountainous Shire, until we hit clouds on the other side of the mountain range. We got into Cuenca at about 6:00pm, where I’m at at the moment. It looked like a beautiful city when we drove through, and we’re going to drive in tonight. I need to buy some surgical glue, which I’m expecting isn’t going to be pleasant.

One Response

  1. Tena was where we went on our Jungle trip which was probably the best part of our trip. We saw horrific bugs everywhere and I was a little freaked out to go to bed!

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