The rain finally caught up with us. After leaving Peru in November, a month before the rains set in, and narrowly missing the rainy season in Colombia that begins in March, we’ve managed to stay fairly dry. So maybe we were riding high on our hubris as we entered Ecuador, because neither of us bothered to look into weather conditions. And as it turns out, March is one of the rainiest months for this part of the Ecuadorian Andes. What we also didn’t know is that this frequent and heavy rain causes landslides on a regular basis.
Attempting to hop on the milk truck into town yesterday morning, Dave, Ned and I – plus several ladies who had hauled huge aluminum containers of milk to sell – waited for an hour for a ride that never came. After phoning a few people more keyed into road conditions, we learned there had been five small landslides overnight, plus one big one that wiped out the road. Luckily Cuellaje is equipped with tractors that can plow through the fallen debris and clear the roads for traffic.
Riding the milk truck into town this morning we were able to survey the damage. I’m fairly certain we passed more than five, but maybe people here don’t bother to count the little ones. For the most part the road is carved into the cliffside and remains unpaved. The landslides looked like someone had come along and hit some of the steepest overhead drop-offs with a chisel and the sandy soil simply crumbled into a heap. We passed several that had taken out trees and bushes. Others had piled into the road and tumbled down the other side of the cliff.
But thanks to the town’s tractors, we made it to our homestay family and won’t have to head up that way again. Oh, also, it’s drier here! Take that rainy season.