Gotta start with the Dammer brothers (Michael, Mathius and Thomas) and their families. They have just been so charming and generous that I will forever associate them with this hike. They have all worked very hard to create a bucolic slice of heaven right here on earth. Picture acres of green pastures filled with cows, pigs, sheep and alpacas and buildings made from local stone and wood. Laughing children running around in homemade clothes, classrooms filled with books and art work and happy workers that smile and wave. I am fortunate to have visited twice so far
Then there was this family.
They caught me trespassing on their farm but, instead of calling the police, they invite me in for breakfast! Turns out, Karina (pictured above) is a cousin of the Dammers. They gave me some great advice about what else to see in Ecuador and even gave me a hunk of dried, smoked pork to take with me (it was delicious!).
I can’t forget this guy.
I hiked into the tiny town of San Isidro early on a Sunday morning. Everything was closed but Fernando was just opening his tiny tienda. I’m afraid I came across as desperate when I said, “Nessicito cafe!” to him. He didn’t have any coffee to sell but instead, he insisted that I come in and join him and his wife for hot coffee (he served it black with tons of sugar in a small metal cup) and fresh baked bread. The conversation was lacking because of my poor Spanish but I was extremely grateful and I hope I conveyed that.
Watch out for this guy.
I met Jose and his buddies just outside of Guayllabamba. He insisted that I have a pull or two of what they called ‘puntos’.
It was some kind of fermented fruit juice that really packed a punch. They all laughed as I winced after each sip. I thanked them for their generosity and kept on hiking.
Then there was this group of crazy Americans.
They are doing some horseback riding down here and they were very kind to a hungry Wolverine. It was good for my soul to sit with people from back home. We swapped stories and enjoyed a big picnic lunch. Very nice folks.
I don’t know why I’m lucky (blessed?) enough to meet the people that I do. Maybe they’re curious about the conspicuous American with a giant backpack? I simply smile and say, “Hola! Buen dia!” to everyone I meet. Almost all respond. Some are very kind just for he sake of being kind! I think the world could use more of that.