Around 3 or 4 Months ago, I contacted the Branch here in Ecuador because I was having problems getting in touch with the local congregation that we planned on supporting. I asked for someone in the Service Department that spoke English. I explained to the brother my situation, and the brother was very helpful. That conversation resulted in two great things happening for us. 1) we were allowed to stay at the branch upon arrival. (see Arrival in Ecuador Part 1) And 2) They gave me the name of an american brother serving here in Loja. This was instrumental in our plans to come here. The Brothers name was Anthony Sensari. Little did I know at the time, but the Branch called Anthony after my conversation with them. He was told that it was his responsibility to see to it that we were assisted in anyway possible. Anthony told us later that he has never heard of the Branch doing that for anyone. That made us feel pretty special, and feel like it was another sign Jehovah was behind our plans to come here from the very beginning. Anthony took his responsibility seriously, he emailed me right away, before I could email him. He was helpful from the very start, and began looking for an apartment for us in Loja. Although we were able to video chat online a few times, we did not meet Anthony and his wife Alexandra until we spotted them at the English Convention.
Our original plan was to take a bus from Guayaquil- the convention city- to Loja, our new home. The busses are fairly comfortable, but it is about an 8 hr trip. However, Anthony and Alexandra told us that they would have room for us in there car coming back. That turned out to be a huge blessing. It just meant staying an extra day with Arturo and Katyuska in Guayaquil. They were happy to oblige. Anthony drove a Corrolla, and as we had 3 large duffels, 2 Hiking packs, 2 day packs, and my guitar, I knew we wouldnt fit. Anthony had himself, Alex, Zack, and their stuff for the convention. We sent 1 duffel, and our hiking packs with another brother heading back to Loja on Sunday after the convention. That made us kinda nervous. It was half of the things we own in life. It turned out to be good because it still took us about 20 minutes to figure out how to get all 5 of us, and all our stuff in that Corrolla. Alas, we made it happen. and Tuesday morning August 6th we headed out for Loja!
The road from Guayaquil to Cuenca heads inland from the cost on pretty even ground for about the first hr. Then everything changes. The roads heads straight up a mountain for 2 hrs. It is winds worse then any road we’ve ever been on and is cramped. By the way the, the double solid line means nothing here. It was common for us to come around a corner and see a car, truck, or bus heading straight towards us in our lane. But believe it or not, you get used to the driving. The elevation goes from around sea level to 13,000 feet! We passed through 2 lairs of clouds! At one point we looked out and were able to see an ocean of clouds that went on as far as we could see. It was pretty remarkable. We unfortunately did not get any good pictures. At the top of the mountain the road goes through a national park “Cajas”. Cajas is barren, with crags jutting out of the ground, it was extremely foggy that day, and not uncommon to see wild Llama. My head hurt, and I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach from the altitude change. Elena was the same. Thankfully from there the road dropped down to 8000 feet as we headed into Cuenca. Cuenca has perhaps the heaviest population of gringos here in Ecuador. It is a popular retirement destination for North Americans. As you head into town it is picturesque. Spanish- Mediterranean style tile roofs cluttered on rolling green hills, surrounded by even higher mountains. I can see why people want to settle there. We ate lunch at a modern mall, where I found myself to be the tallest person. Then onward to Loja. The road from Cuenca to Loja was more of the same. Rising back up to 10,000 feet, winding through mountains, before finally dropping down to 6000 feet, and opening up into a beautiful valley where houses were scattered among the hills.
It was about sunset, and upon arrival to the house where we would be staying, we went up to the roof, and got some great shots of the mountains west of Loja.
These pictures were taken going from north to south.
It was a long and hard journey, but we were finally in the place we would call home going forward….
Next up… Life in Loja