Katie, Sara and Audrey´s arm, sitting pretty on flour
Hitchhiking was a huge highlight of being in the jungle. Everywhere we wanted to go, except the bar, was at least a 20-minute walk away so thumbing it soon became a way of life. There was no sweeter sound than that of an approaching truck going the way we wanted to go, no greater vista than that of two headlights on the horizon. Verdad, our spirits were often crushed by cars driving the opposite way and once by a motorcycle. The rides were not always pleasant – Katie and I rode in the back of a cargo truck with heaps of soil and sharp branches one night – but every experience enriched our love for Ecuador and its hospitable people.
My most memorable day of hitching was on May 13 when we caught four separate hitches on the way to and from the Waterfall Walk near Misahualli.
First, we rode in a gigantic yellow truck. The wheel well came up to my chest so it took a bit of scrambling to get in, but it was all worth it to sit on the cushy sacks of flour being transported therein. We got off at the junction leading to Misahualli just as another truck was turning onto the road – this NEVER happens. Usually whenever we go to Misahualli, the best you can get is a hitch to the crossroads; from there it’s a half hour walk to town. We rolled into Misahualli on hitch no.2 just as it was beginning to rain. It poured the entire time we had lunch and stopped when we finished. After the Walk, we caught a ride back to Misahualli within minutes. This time we rode with chickens (dead and plucked). After a snack, we walked back to Jatun Sacha and caught the fourth and final hitch back with bananas. As Pete said, “We’ve ridden with all the food groups today.” Claro.
The Pioneers rock the Waterfall Walk
The hitch from Limoncocha to Coca was also memorable.
The bus we were supposed to take never came so we waited for two hours on the road, amusing ourselves with whittling and Kate’s (rhetorical) questions: “If you had to kill anyone in the group, who would you kill?” Before any murderous thoughts took hold, a friendly man stopped and picked all eight of us up. The two-hour ride itself in the bed of the truck was miserable until we hit paved road. It was a hot day so those who were really suffering in the back switched out with the good Samaritans sitting in the cab at the midpoint of the journey. The driver kindly dropped us off at our hotel and even asked passersby how to get there. We wanted to pay him but he declined – guess he really liked the cookies we offered him.
Even G forces can´t stop Ben
Now that we’re back in the city for our final project, our days of hitchhiking are probably over. I think we’ll all remember the generosity of every Ecuadorian that picked us up, and will always look at a passing truck with fondness.