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we truly live on a beautiful planet

After an entire night of tossing and turning and hoping that the ice would work, I was more than glad to hear our alarm clock go off at 7 AM. For once in a long time, I literally jumped out of bed and I was just so glad to see that my ankle, although still a little bit swollen, was not in such a bad shape that I couldn’t put on my walking shoes … Las Cajas NP here I come!

Breakfast, which is basically the most important meal of the day, wasn’t exactly something to look forward to after one look at the stale bread, the sugary jam as well as the strong black coffee. Not my idea of a great first start of the day and after I finally got a bit of tea, I just had one bite of the stuff and decided that for once, it wasn’t too big of a problem to skip breakfast all together. Although the start of the day wasn’t all that good, I was more than glad to see our guide arrive so that we could finally leave for our morning walk. 

Today we were going to visit Las Cajas NP, which is situated about 30 KM west of Cuenca and after one quick stop along the road for some snacks, we were more than ready for our walk through this amazing park with more than 250 altitude lakes.

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According to Freddy, this was going to be a fairly easy walk, since we were going to leave at a hight of 3500 meters and slowly work our way down, only to be picked up again by Manuel a few hours later and a few kilometers down the road. I must admit that in the beginning I was a bit suspicious when our fearless leader said something like this, but after our start at the entrance of the park, we just walked around an enormous but beautiful lake where our guide told us all about the indigenous trees, plants and flowers. Some of them were just so tiny that we had a hard time looking for them.

It must have been more than half an hour into the walk, when we suddenly changed from flat terrain to a more hilly one and although this wasn’t too big of a problem for me, Tania and a few others of our group, some people weren’t really up for such a challenge, not even for what was coming up next.

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After climbing a few rocks and even some more while at the same time having a great view on a few lakes as well, we all of a sudden came across an polylepis forest, which is also better know as a “paper tree” forest. The trees on itself looked like they were death, but in fact they were quite alive and although I loved the spooky feel as well as the challenge of going down through the trees, I guess a few members of our group didn’t agree with me as I heard some swear words coming from the back of the group. Once we were back in open terrain, we saw nothing else but one rocky hill after another and even a few falls as well and while I was having the time of my live and loving every moment, others were almost bursting in tears and asking themselves why on earth they’d come along and the only thing I could think of was … FREDDY!!!!

It seemed that once again he misguided us and at the same time made sure we were all victims because the weaker ones weren’t able to follow the stronger ones, which resulted in loosing precious time more than you could think of and instead of just having a morning walk, it turned out we were going to have an early afternoon one as well.

While Tania went along with our guide and a few other members of our group, i just stayed behind and helped the slower ones with getting up the rocks and down the rocks again and all the while I didn’t hear a peep coming out of the mouth of our fearless leader. He wasn’t happy, but to be honest, the rest of the group wasn’t either and this was just such a shame coz we were walking in one of the most beautiful parks I had ever seen and although the circumstances weren’t at their best, I just made the most of it and enjoyed every minute of it while trying to cheer up the slower ones of our group.

It must have been an hour later when I even had to leave them behind coz they were just so slow and although I stopped to watch every 15 minutes to see if they were still moving, another member of our group took over my task, which enabled me to go and seek up the first ones of our group and our guide with whom I caught up again at a local swamp, which on itself was quite a challenge getting through!

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As we were already more than 3 hours into the walk, at a given moment I was glad that our guide told us that we were almost at the finish, not for me of course coz I loved it so much and I am sure that some had the same mentality, but somehow their was a bad vibe hanging around our group and this wasn’t necessarily good for the team spirit and after we’d overcome that last muddy and rocky hill, we finally saw our bus and Manuel again … more than 2 hours later as planned. Once back in the bus, we were all tired and as our guide told us we just had walked 8.4 kilometers, I must admit that I was proud that I still had the perseverance of walking such a distance on this altitude without too much of a problem.

At 4 PM, we arrived back in the city and as soon as me and my buddy were back into our room and had a change of clothes and footwear , we could finally go out and discover this colonial city of which its historic center is proclaimed to be an Unesco World Heritage Site. Cuenca is really a beautiful city and I was a bit amazed to see so many churches. People in this part of the world are really religious or they have so many sins that they need all the churches! Whatever the case, you can’t ignore them, even if you try!

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By the time it was 9 PM, the both of us had gone through more than many streets, visited more than enough churches and had a fantastic dinner in the process, so instead of keep on walking through the dark streets, we just called it quits and had an early night. Since I didn’t had too much sleep last night, I didn’t mind one bit and while Tania was checking her mails, I turned off my light and went to sleep!

Posted by Ils1976 06:23 Archived in Ecuador

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Comments

We had a similar experience in Hawaii although probably not as dramatic as yours. We were told by hotel staff that a hike to Manoa Falls was an easy path and would not be a challenge. But it was not a beginner trail at all. It was steep, rocky and full of slippery mud. But afterwards I was glad we did it and got to see the falls. I am going to enjoy reading the rest of your adventures in Ecuador.

by littlesam1

I guess in the end you're glad you did it, but it is sometimes easier knowing what is in store.

Thanks for the nice comment.

How is Hawaii?? I so want to see it one day, but I guess it is going to be a bit expensive travelling from Europe.

by Ils1976

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