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Isinlivi to Sigchos, or How We Ended Up in the Back Seat of an Ecuadorian Police Car

Between the food, the jacuzzi and the llama we decided to stay another day at Llullu Llama Hostal. Our cabana was delightful. We had a beautiful view from our deck and Ol made a new friend. After just a little attention the St. Bernard at Llu Llu’s followed him everywhere.

When we heard a noise in the morning we opened our bathroom window to find Llullu. When we went out our front door in the morning for breakfast, there was Llullu. Later in the afternoon, when we heard a noise outside our bathroom I told Ol to grab the camera, it wasn’t Llullu. It was the gardener with a machete.

That morning we decided to hike up to a cheese factory in the mountains above the little town, It was supposed to be about a forty minute hike, but after ninety minutes we were unable to find it (we don’t understand the no sign thing). Still, we had a lovely morning hike.

We decided to go back to the hostel and enjoy it’s amenities. We got deep into a backgammon tournament on our balcony and waited for the steam room to heat up. We had booked a horseback riding tour for the afternoon up to the cloud forest, but decided to cancel it and just rest.

It was a much needed perfect day. A leisurely nap, back to the jacuzzi, and finally a fun night of cocktails and stories with the new hikers arriving at the hostel.

We got advice about the next day’s hike and were actually looking forward to meeting the old lady that stands by the side of the road asking for a dollar when she knows that you are lost.

After another great dinner, a wonderful night’s sleep, and a great breakfast, we were back on the trail. This time I took the map. We were hiking from Isinlivi to Sigchos. The directions said that the hike was about 7.5 miles or 10.7 kilometers through the mountains. We would descend 1,446 feet and climb 1,632 feet. It would be a nice four or five hour hike.

Again, we had perfect weather. There were adorable animals, indigenous people working in their fields in formal dress, gorgeous flowers, and enough school children on the trail that we finally ran out of suckers and were giving away our snacks of fruit and cookies.

Just when we came to the old lady guarding the trail, the owner of Cloud Forest Hostal pulled up in his truck with a group of policemen. They were driving around and putting up colorfull and much needed new signs for the trail. There would be no more excuses for getting lost, and no more need to rely on a husband with questionable map reading skills! The faint paint markings on logs, rocks and trees that irregularly marked the trail, were getting upgraded to fancy new sign posts thanks to Cloud Forrest Hostal.

Cloud Forest Hostel is a wonderful place to stay and seems to be the most active in keeping up the trail. We gladly recommend that Quilotoa Loop hikers support their efforts and stay with them when in Chugchilian. We stayed there and loved it. As a bonus they washed, dried, and folded all of our laundry for two dollars!

Hikers will be thrilled with the new signs. It seems that almost everyone took a wrong turn or two. However, we noticed one person who was not happy with the new signs. The little old lady who probably makes a decent living with her $1 request for directions was arguing with the policemen as they installed the bright red and yellow trail signs. The new signs were going up directly in front of her house. We got the impression that the signs near her house may mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night.

After the last sign was erected the policemen offered to drive us down the road to the next uphill climb. We gladly accepted the offer which saved us about a kilometer, and we welcomed the break. The remainder of the hike was all uphill and any help was appreciated.

On the uphill climb we finally met hikers coming from the opposite direction. They were just beginning their hike and over the next few days would be retracing our path. We exchanged greetings, asked where they were from, and tried to offer helpful information as hikers often do for each other. We even met a young couple from Massachusetts, finally some Americans!

With all of the new signs erected by Cloud Forrest we didn’t even need our map for the rest of the hike. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to show off my map reading.

After about an hour of climbing, we made it to Sigchos. The only remaining challenge was to find the bus terminal. After entering the town and walking for a few minutes a police officer pulled up alongside us. He opened his window and asked where we we from and where we were going. Had we done something wrong? Were they looking for strange Americans?

After a few minutes of chatting we realized that he wanted our opinion about bike riding. He was thinking about starting a bike riding business for tourists in Sigchos and wanted our input. We told him that mountain bikes and a guide would be a great tourist attraction in his town.

A short time later we soon found ourselves in the back of the patrol car with the chief of police of the town of Sigchos driving us directly to the bus station. Now thats what I call service!

The timing was perfect. We were able to catch the 2:30 bus back to Latacunga, which we would have missed without the police escort.

When we arrived in Latacunga we were starving. We told the taxi to take us directly to our new favorite restaurant, El Gringo y La Gorda, the best Poboy place in South America. Thank you Mauricio! It was a pleasant surprise when we found out that it was happy hour all day and another four day weekend and festival in Latacunga!

We had plans to hike Cotopaxi volcano in the morning so we called it an early night even though Mauricio kept bringing us complimentary fancy cocktails and desserts which were all delicious. Climbing Cotopaxi would put all of our conditioning to the test as it is the highest active volcano in the world. As much as we wanted to stay and enjoy the great food and

company we had to call it a day.

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