Oyacachi is a small evangelical town on the eastern slopes of the Andes as it descends
toward the Amazon basin. They are known for their hot springs, their trout, and their
wooden handicrafts. The day we went was foggy, drizzly, and very cold.
The bus headed east over a dirt road for 45 miles through a landscape
of small subsistence farms and a large ecological preserve. Imagine a one-lane
dirt road through the Andes, filled
with potholes that were turning to mud as it rained. Many times there were cliffs on
one side and a steep dropoff on the other that plunged down into a valley carved by
a river cascading downhill. The bus's roof leaked in the rain, but that was inconsequential
to the bone-jarring motion.
The vegetation became semi-tropical as we crossed the continental divide
in the direction of the Amazon basin. It was supposed to be warmer and more
humid, but today it was chilly. There were many trees and lush undergrowth (It sort
of reminds me of the backroads of Tennessee). Houses were made of wood, while near
the Hacienda they are made of concrete or cangahua blocks. The people even dressed
differently. The women wore boots almost up to their knee, whereas near the Hacienda
they wear loafers. They still wore the traditional hats and many-layered gathered
skirts one associates with the Andes.
The road from the Hacienda to Oyachachi had been blocked for most of our stay in Ecuador
by an indigenous protest over water rights. The locals piled up stones and a berm
of dirt, which effectively closed the one-lane dirt road hugging the mountainside. We
nade our trip the first weekend after the road reopened.