Oranges and Landslides
We sit by the side of the road eating; brown bread, hard boiled eggs, and cheese, a veritable feast. We are half way through a longish climb, and in contreast to the previouse day the sun is out. As cars pass their drivers toot their horns and wave, girls in the back of passing pick up trucks whistle, lads on motorbikes call out as they speed past. Then from a small path climbing up from the valley to our left a peasant family comes into view. Mother and father both carrying large white sacks. Seeing us they stop and the mother fills both hands with something from the sack, the boy raises the bottom of his shirt to create a bag, the mother fills it and shyly the boy comes over to us. He approaches Sebastian and holds out his shirt, it is full of oranges. With no fuss the family presents us with a gift, a pile of fresh oranges. They show no sign of emotion as we thanked them profusely, they simply continue on their way. The oranges finish the meal perfectly.
The road we are on is something of a detour. The direct route from Baños to Riobamba is a mere 50KM. We had initially been told that the road is impassable by car, but by bicycle it would be fine, but when we came to take this road we were warned in no uncertain terms not to take it. The men who warned us were clearing piles of volcanic soil from the road side. They indicated this soil and so far as we could understand their point was that the road was pretty much covered with this stuff. There were landslides. We suggested that we could carry our bicycles across these areas, they indicated, by way of amusing mime, the unstable nature of these landslides and the fact that more was falling. We said ‘hum’ and looked thoughtful. They studied us intently for a moment and then added a few sentences in Spanish that meant nothing to me. Sebastian turned to me and said, ‘They say that we will die if we go that way’. We took the detour.
Back on the Pan Americana highway the rest of the day was divided neatly between climbing and eating. The weather remained dry though the clouds were persistent. We have by all accounts been riding through a corridor of snow capped volcanos, some active some dormant for most of the time we have been in Ecuador, we are now of the opinion that we are not going to see any of them them.
THE PHOTO SHOWS THIS 14TH CENTRY CHURCH WITH A BACKDROP OF BLUE SKY AND SNOW CAPPED VOLCANO. BEHIND THE IMAGE IS THE CHURCH, RATHER A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND?