August 13, 2005 GMT
Hi-Tech Shamans

I spent most of this morning listening to a pair of shamans (Juan and Vladimir, whose day jobs are as electronics engineers) describing the solar and lunar ceremonies and what they hoped to achieve for a couple of guests here.

Here is Vilcabamba, a small Ecuadorian village in the Andes on the edge of the Amazonian cloud forest. It's gorgeous. The desert finally ended after 3,000 miles near Tumbes, 15 miles south of the border (which was the usual bear garden as the actual border is in the middle of a very crowded market).

Rather wild and very friendly Ecuadorian nuns

Ecuador is the original banana republic, and as you probably know is still at it because the president decamped to Brazil a couple of months ago. There are no road signs, so finding anywhere is somewhat challenging as the roads bear little relation to the map I have (a Nelles, which are usually pretty reliable). Not sure if a local one would be much better, though.

The currency is the USD which makes life easy, and the cost of living is hardly anything, which makes life even easier.

I'm heading for Quito (22km south of the equator) and will need to do some serious surgery on the bike; not sure of the exact problem, but it may well be something like a burnt-out exhaust valve in the RH cylinder head. We'll see.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at August 13, 2005 06:22 PM GMT
 
 

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