Micah: Unmitigated

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Plans

August 8th, 2010 at 17:51

The story of my time in Cuenca is one filled with cool temperatures, changed plans, little sleep, and turned off alarms. I didn’t do as much as I wanted, but I think I tackled the city fairly well.

On Wednesday, 8 hrs on 3 different buses took me up over 8,000 feet. I was ignorantly not ready for the cool temps and effects of altitude. I walked around all day Thursday, checking out the churches, parks, and museums, wearing myself out. Then I attempted to go to sleep early, so I could wake up the next day and see Ecuador’s most important ruins (Ingapirca), about 2 hours north. No such luck, because this halfway done thing is really getting to me. When I embarked on my trip, I had set a few vague goals that have yet to be accomplished. So, my head has been churning the past couple nights, trying to plan the rest of the trip and post-trip. That kept me awake Thursday night, until the group of Ecuadorian yutes decided to play music and talk outside my window. They looked like the ruff and tumble type, that would stab me just to look at my watch and get the time, but the music they listened to said otherwise. I would compare it to the musical stylings of Richard Marx, which they gladly sang along to. I was kept awake until 4 am, and promptly shut off my alarm set for 7:45am.

It turned out to be a good thing. Looking at pictures of the ruins online, they didn’t seem all that impressive and not worth the 4 hrs of bus travel. I opted for the Museo Pumapongo and it’s collection of shrunken heads, artwork, and large backyard filled with ruins, plants, and birds. It was free and entertaining. I later walked toward a hill for panaramic city views.

The 2nd day trip I had envisioned for myself, was to Parque Nacional Cajas, about 30 km west of town. The bus ride in to Cuenca came through the park and sparked my interest. The setting is a stunning Paramo, which is high altitude grass/shrub land, dotted with lakes and peaks. I set my alarm again, this time for 5:50 am, and again attempted an early bed time. But, good sleep was not to be had. Thoughts of possible travel destinations and future jobs, filled my head. After an hour or 2 of sleep, I awoke at about 3:30 am and decided to move that switch to the off position. Thus, Saturday was spent checking out the craft markets and posting pictures. I contemplated attempting a Cajas trip today, but I know there are more amazing hikes ahead of me down south. Though, the weather today was sunny and perfect, after 3 days of clouds.

After all of those sleepless nights and that time spent inside my head, I feel I have figured a few things out. I will enter Peru in a couple days, crossing over at a remote location to see some hidden ruins. Then head to the coast and make my way down to Huaraz, with some of the best trekking in the world. I don’t know how much I can do without equipment, but it should be fun. After that, I shall cruise past Lima and check out the southern coastline before cutting over to Arequipa and some impossibly deep canyons.

I also decided over the last few days, that I want to cut through the northern tip of Chile to enter Bolivia. Initially I had wanted to roll past Lake Titicaca, but that can be seen later. In Bolivia, I will live cheaply and explore everthing it has to offer, especially the desert region of Salar de Uyuni. From there, I will hopefully find a good deal on a flight from La Paz to Bogota, in order to catch my plane home. Roughly planning on 1 month in Peru, 1 week in Chile, and 2 months in Bolivia.

So there it is, all laid out perfectly. This plan and the memory of my 100th empanada, a delicious bread pastry filled with spicy ground beef and topped with a creamy salsa, I take with me as the fruits of 4 long nights in Cuenca. Now, all I have to do is execute and take pictures. Next up: Todo lo que necesito es un plan para el resto de mi vida.

E = 100

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