arrived at quito from the galapagos islands
after a week on small sail boat
traveling from island to island
hanging out with marine iguanas
sea lions and gigantic crabs
they all keep spiting salt to a distance
from their nostrils
birds of all kinds
blue-footed booby
mask booby
pink flamingo
frigate birds
that follow other birds
and harass them
to make them spit the fish
they caught
so the frigate birds can eat it
swimming with sea lions
standing in shallow water
surrounded by ten two-meter long sharks
and huge manta rays
standing few feet away from
sea turtles while they're creating
the next generation
followed by mocking birds
that run after you
looking you in the face
swimming inside groups of fish
sea lions swim around and underneath me
land iguanas standing up
on their back legs
to reach cactus fruits
200 kilogram tortoises
all these animals
not afraid of humans
very curious
come close to check you out
half of the animals and plants
are endemic to these relatively
new islands
including a 100 years old island
created by volcanic eruption
evolution is here and now
now back in ecuador
a country where the currency
is the american dollar
and the taxis
are the russian ladas
here below the ecuator
the moon is sideways
and the toilet flushes counter clockwise
the city of otavalo in the north
the residents are
amazingly beautiful indians
both men and women with long hair
proud people
big crater 20 kilometers from the city
water formed a lake inside the crater
200 meter deep
two islands rise out of the water
walked five hours around the crater
up and down the mountains
in and out of clouds
rode a bicycle
from the town of banos
to rio verde
28 kilometers
all downhill
surrounded by mountains
rode all the way to
pailon de diablo
the devil´s waterfall
name suits it right
climbed above banos
to 3 kilometers peak
there on top
all is green grass
strong wind
only one small house
three dogs start running my way
nothing to do
waiting for them to reach me
one manages to bite my leg
have to physically keep chasing them away
this goes on for few minutes
until their owner reaches me
she orders the dogs away
cleans my wound
sends me down the mountain
one hour of steep path
bleeding my way to banos
while looking at the tungurahua volcano
right across
5 kilometer tall and proud
snow at the peak
constantly releasing a volcanic cloud
go to the doctor in banos
no problema he says
telling me many people get bitten
up that mountain
no rabies in this area
no need for any injections
just keep squeezing the wounds
twice daily
until all the infection goes out
and apply cream
the doctor charges me $3
and shakes my hand goodbye
on january 5, 2001
banos celebrated its first anniversary
of coming back to town
after being evacuated
due to the tungurahua's eruption
the people were prohibited to go back
this allowed the government to continue
collecting international aid
after three months
on january 5, 2000
the banos people took back their city by force
fighting and chasing the military out
great being part of the celebration
partying goes on until 6 am
live music
playing with small bulls on the streets
drinking alcohol from sugar cane
being on a cheeba truck full with dancing people
driving around town
then off to riobamba
colonial city
in riobamba
early in the morning
getting on the train to alausi
it's a freight train
200 people sitting on the roof
train goes down 700 meters
through erected mountains
at each small town
vendors – women and small children
get up on the train's roof
walking among the passengers
selling drinks, snacks,
and homemade baked goods
all this while the train keeps going
the roof is very crowded
the vendors move along
while grabbing the passengers' hands
or they'll fall off
big noise
the whole train shakes
and gets derailed
the old tracks broke down
takes the crew two hours
of fixing the rail
and getting the train back on it
the railway is in very bad condition
three and a half hours of ride
turn into nine
no funds to fix the tracks
very soon this majestic railway
will shut down
feel lucky being on it
ecuador keeps celebrating
this time of year
new years
january six and seven
the tradition is
burning dolls of politicians
combined with kids blocking roads
and highways with ropes
wearing masks
asking for money or candies
all this combined with
riots across the country
due to price hikes
the bus back to quito
gets blocked by
school kids in uniforms
burning tires
and running all over the junction
the driver works his way
gets us into quito
© 2001. All Rights Reserved.
Zemach Zohar Wilson, Quito Ecuador, January 2001

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