Bumping along the mountainside switchbacks in the back of our commuter bus was just the first leg of our trip into rural Amaga. Once the bus dumped us off in what we assumed was Amaga Plaza, Dave and I collected our giant packs, and looked around for the jeeps Paola had described that would supposedly shuttle us to her ecohostel. Sensing our aimlessness a local came to our rescue, and once I properly pronounced the street we were looking for he ushered us to an Ace Ventura jeep. A guy on the roof promptly grabbed our packs and hurled them on top. That seemed about right.
Inside the jeep, seven of us sat on bench seats facing each other with one 11-year-old boy wedged in between my armpit and the back door. Dave lucked out by snagging a seat up front. As we bounded through the narrow, rocky streets we picked up two more passengers who didn’t bother to flag us down, but instead launched themselves onto the back and climbed onto the roof. I like to think my pack served as a cushion for at least part of their ride.