Friday, September 14, 2007

The Quilotoa Loop

The Quilotoa Loop is a single width of sandy road that slices through rural highland Ecuador. There's very little transport, less communications but an abundance of livestock, farming and pork-pie hats. The landscape is fiercely sculpted, with enormous ravines and huge, sharp mountains having displaced just about all the even ground long ago.

The environment is stunning- and cold. The locals farm almost every available inch of this impossibly steep terrain, resulting in hills covered in the random geometry of corn and potato plantations. Working the sandy earth is largely done without machinery, the incline of most of the plots would be impossible for a tractor to negotiate, and workers can often be seen tending plants which are growing at eye level.

We spent four days travelling around the loop, often feeling like we were the tourist attractions (given the number of stares we found ourselves under- not too many Gringos out there). One of the nicest aspects was the abundance of eucalyptus forests- the smell of the bush on the other side of the planet.

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