On Saturday, the 24th of September, we left Tumbabiro and proceeded towards the northwestern corner of Ecuador. Today was the first day of our visit that was less than positive. The jungle covered hills and wide rivers were beautiful, but this seemed to be a corner of the country which Quito has ignored. The poverty was unbelievable. The guide books describe it as an area of crime and lawlessness. What does that mean? We found out. It is private individuals walking down the streets with pistols on their belts. It means a hotel with a metal gate at the front door, then another metal gate at the entry of ever hallway. You can see it in the eyes of everybody. The Ecuadorian friendliness has not spilled over into this part of the country. Not a smile within miles. There is no infrastructure. Our room had no water, and when we asked to take a shower, a tank truck was ordered and pumped water into the hotel via fire hose. This meant that the shower would be cold water only. The buildings are filthy. The people are the same. You are afraid to eat anywhere, due to concerns over everybody's personal hygiene. There is NO politeness between the residents. They seem to roam the streets looking for an opportunity to snatch something from somebody else, or they just sit. The work ethics seems non existent. Many of the shops have metal bars where the doors should be, so that you can't enter. You ask for what you want , and it is passed through a 12" by 12" opening. Nearly every business has a guard with a shot gun hung over their shoulder.
Throughout the rest of Ecuador, placement of the table cloth, forks and spoons and everything else on your table is done with precision. That was not the case in Esmeralda.
As a result of the environment, we did not take many pictures. The reason is fear of taking a camera out. We stopped the motorcycle in a small village and we were circle by 15 males touching everything. It is a male environment. Women are not seen frequently. And drinking was everywhere. Typically, is difficult for us to leave the places we visit because of the friendships that develop and the neat places we encounter. Not here..... We are both eager to leave as quickly as possible.
And then there is the clear cutting of the jungles. Tragic....
This was the first time on the trip where Sandy and I began to understand the Che Guevara ideology.
But, we are not going to let this 5% of Ecuador taint our very positive impressions of the balance of the Country!
The clear cutting takes place up the rivers, with the trees cut and then floated down stream to the primitive saw mills on the shores of the rivers. The boats are hogged out of logs.
All the villages are built on the rivers, which, I am sure, were the only avenues for transportation, prior to the relatively new roads.
A few pictures of the extremely poor areas......
Our next stay was Bahia de Caraquez. Another friendly world!
I twisted my back, and could barely walk for 2 days, therefore we are resting and posting the pictures. A welcome but painful respite. The balance of the coastline should prove scenic. We will leave Bahia on Wednesday, the 27th, "BACK" permitting.