I arrived in Loja not completely woken up before sic o’clock. I started to look for a bus to Vilcabamba. There was one. I bought a ticket in the ticket office, paid 0.20$ for the access to the platforms (I’ll write more about public transport in Ecuador in the future, because it’s a quite large subject) and I reached the very end of the station. My bus still wasn’t there. After around two minutes an elderly woman – with a top of her head o the level of my elbows – came with two big sacks. She put them against the wall and told me something in Spanish, pointing the load and went away to get the rest of it. Then she left all six of them and disappeared. The bus came. I figured out that i should put the sacks on the bus and I was about to start when the elderly woman came back. I was relieved. We loaded the luggage (the sacks were heavy as hell and contained probably potatoes) and I gained some confidence in my Spanish understanding abilities. An hour and a half later I unloaded the potatoes from the bus and followed the almost running elderly woman while carrying my backpack, three bags and two sacks of potatoes of about twenty kilos each.
A 7,000 people town. Eight o’clock in the morning, Saturday. A ghost town and a taxi drivers town. I checked the messages on my phone. Nothing from Judith and Steven. I’d spoken to them over helpx.net on Thursday. I’d left my number. They were supposed o pick me up from Vilcabamba and take me to their farm. I looked on the website. Yeah, a message! From Thursday… I’d seen it. I tried writing, calling the two numbers on their profile. No success. I waited a bit longer, ate something and decided to get to the farm alone. The map from Google on their profile showed just a spot in the middle of nowhere without any roads nor paths. Well, who could know if not the taxi drivers? I went to them and asked for Steven.
‘Steve, si, hay un Steve!’ told me a taxi driver. Steve. Ell, maybe that the same thing as Steven. I’m going. Three bucks. Normally it should be 3.5$ but they liked Steve, so they’d take only 3$ from me. Sure.
I got in front of a gate with Incas curved on it. Further a bridge, a house and a piece of land. An organic farm? Why not? No one there. I looked on the watch. Nearly noon. Maybe they hadn’t got back from the town. I sat down and tried to read The Karamazov Brothers, although I wasn’t in the mood. I took my camera and started a hunt. Around me there were blue, orange and yellow birds flying. Not willing to be photographed. Maybe if I had longer lenses…
A white pick-up truck arrived. A young man got out. He didn’t seem to be Steven and even less likely Judith. He spoke English. it turned out, that with Steve it was true. It’d been true. He’d used to live there, but that was no longer the case. And Steve, in fact, not Steven. I opened a gate with Incas for the property owner and he promised me to call a taxi.
I got an English speaking driver! Hallelujah! I explained to him my destination. I’d been even waiting on the right road, although I lacked few kilometres and some climbing. I understood why all taxis in Vilcabamba were 4×4 pick-up trucks. I went through a wooden gate and started shouting Hello!
A german shepherd showed barking in front of me.
‘Laika, no! Es un amigo!’ shouted at him a woman with graying blond hair.
‘Hi! I’m Piotr from helpx’.
Her eyes opened wide.
‘How did you manage to get here? No one is able to find us. You didn’t answer, I just thought that you wouldn’t come. Sometimes people just change plans and don’t come and not everyone is polite enough to warn us’.
‘I’d warn you’ I told. ‘Well, I had some luck’.
‘If you managed to get here it means that you were supposed to do so. Come, I’ll show you your room’.