Oh how great if felt to be on the road again, adios Cuenca. Refrigerator, fuel tank and water tank full, we headed toward the little town of Guadalupe in the Yacuambi valley in the southeast of Ecuador.
This little town has a great mission and hospital, staffed with volunteers from Europe and the US. Padre Jorge Nigsch from Schoppernau, Austria: “El Jefe” as the sisters at the mission call him, has spent the last twenty-five years here in the Amazon region and is busy with his congregation and the hospital. The mission is in a beautiful location across the river from the town itself. People come down from the hill towns to have their medical needs attended to, at any given time there are several physicians taking care of sick and insured people. When we were there a group of eight doctors and nurses were arriving from Germany.
Padre Jorge (Georg) welcomed us with open arms, gave us a great spot to park the camper behind his house and a key so we could use the facilities. I loved waking up in the morning, quiet except for the birds singing up a storm. The Amazon area is lush and wet, it rains almost daily, but if you are from Southeast Alaska you don’t even notice it. There is a dirt road into a side valley where there are several Shua settlements, I walked part way but did not want to bother them since they do not like to have their picture taken and do not like it if you take pictures of their poverty. I did not. We spent three days at the mission, ate with them and enjoyed talking with the padre and the visiting health workers. Vergelts Gott!
There are several frog farms in Ecuador and one of them is in the next town, Piuntza. They raise bull frogs and sell them restaurants, needless to say, in Zamora and around you can order frog anytime. But 80 % of their production goes to New York and Europe. Two tons a month between May and November. They have breeding tanks, tadpole nurseries, wet and dry growing areas. Ramon Costa has 15 warehouses, which contain around 300 000 frogs. They are covered by a fabric that allows the free flow of air to maintain an optimum temperature. The frogs grow best at temperatures between 24 and 29 degrees. The metamorphosis of a frog food lasts between 10 and 12 months, at which time it will be ready for sale, weighing 150-180 grams. Worth a visit.
You can get to Guadalupe via Zamora, the drive from Loja is spectacular, with orchids growing along the road and the Podocarpus rain forest, countless waterfalls and lush hillsides. There is also a new road that leads from Saraguro east to Yacuambi (28 de Mayo) and the Yacuambi valley. Padre Jorge said that on a nice day it is spectacular up there “it makes you feel like you are in an airplane looking down”. From Guadalupe you can also explore the Nangaritza river, but we never did because rainy season was approaching in Peru and we wanted to move south. So we said farewell to Padre Jorge and the sister and left for La Balsa on the Ecuador/Peru border.