Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Posada La Stacion", Urbina, Ecuador

Night falls on "Hotel Posada La Stacion", Urbina, Ecuador. Vulcan Chimborazo rises in the right background.

7:45 pm

This Posada occupies a former train station, about 11,250 (3,618 meters) up the slopes of Vulcan Chimborazo.

A group of fourteen trekkers are sharing it with me. Thirteen from all around France and Belgium and their guide, who seems to be Ecuadoran, and speaks French and English. They’re on a three week trekking tour, gradually working their way up to climb Vulcan Cotopaxi. Apparently they don’t have the technical skill to climb Chimborazo.

I arrived here about 5:30. The proprietor set me up with a room, but had to leave for town. He had a full load of passengers in his truck, including a young woman back-packer, who was scribbling notes as they departed (a familiar sight.) Outside, when I arrived were a half dozen llamas (two or three engaged in mating). The owner said “they’re very sexual creatures.” Apparently, they’re into group sex.

I wandered around in the frigid afternoon, taking a few photos, but the cold eventually drove me in. Tried chatting with some of the trekkers, but few spoke any English, and my French is virtually non-existent.

My room, just off the kitchen, is stucco-walled, painted that goldenrod yellow with a deep blue ceiling. A leather saddle sits atop a small fireplace and the walls are adorned with an old rifle, a pan flute, pictures, a mask and palm fans.

Before dinner, an orange and cinnamon tea-like drink was served, to which everyone added agua dente. I asked the tour guide, who at first I thought to be part of the staff, what we were drinking. There was a large table set with fourteen spots. When everyone was seated, there was not a space for me. I was directed to a small table to the side, as this was a group, the server said.

At "Hotel Posada La Stacion", warming up with a hot beverage before dinner.

Adding a little Aguadente to an orange and cinnamon infusion.

Just like that, I was cut off from the others. I was pissed at the guide, as he was the host, and clearly had the power to rearrange things, but didn’t. He didn’t even acknowledge me. He was full of himself. (“Asshole.”) Dinner was good. Chicken broth with potatoes and cubes of a mozzarella-like cheese, ham with rice and peas and carrots, a postre de tomate was very interesting. Very tart, and seemed to be soaked with that agua dente. Coffee of the instant kind.

When it came time for dinner, the trekkers all sat at this large table. I was assigned a small table in the left corner. This was especially strange, since before dinner we were all chatting and drinking together, and I was the only other guest dining. Any considerate host would have at least invited me to join the party. But I was not part of the group, and the young host refused to even acknowledge me. This clouded what might have been a very enjoyable evening.

I sensed that several in the group thought it bizarre that I was not invited to their table (as the only other guest here.) There were uncomfortable silences, and of course, I was silent the whole time. I had been chatting with them and taking photos earlier. Now it was like I wasn’t even in the room.

Is it a new moon? Lots of tension today.


Rode out to Cumbaya because Lisa had mentioned it being like Orange County. Yes, lots of American chains represented out here. Got lost numerous times. The signage (or lack thereof) is frustrating. There will be one sign indicating the direction of a town. Then nothing. You’re left to figure it out. Many service station stops for directions. Only $2.10 for "Super" gas.

Two and a half hours, and I was still in the suburbs. Really annoyed. No volcanoes visible, just lower slopes. Finally got on the right track, heading south.

Crossed over a couple of passes reaching beyond 11,000 feet, encountering some rain along the way. Though it had been quite warm in Cumbaya, the rest of the day was spent in chilly, damp weather.

Climbing high into the mountains near Chimborazo, I was looking for a hotel like that isolated one I saw north of Pasto, Colombia. This would be a perfect setting, I thought. At the top of this pass is where I spotted an old faded sign for this posada. I followed a rocky dirt road through farms and pastures. After roughly a mile and a half, I came to the old train station, standing alongside rusted rails.


Drew Kampion said...

People are such assholes. Put me out there with the yamas any ol' time!

otto said...

How rude!!!!!