Our trip to “Cajas”
Today, Alan and I attempted to explore Cajas National Park – I say “attempted” because we actually ended up in the wrong place because of a misunderstanding with the taxi driver. We asked him to take us to “Cajas”, which, it turns out, is different to Cajas National Park! Where we ended up kind of looked like a national park, and it only took us five hours to realize we weren’t where we wanted to be…
We had actually ended up in “el cajas” home of the sanctuary of La Virgen de Cajas. There ended up being some little artisenos, selling rosaries, candles and clothes but it didn’t seem out of place in a national park as religion is so woven into the fabric of Ecuadorian life. I managed to find a cute alpaca sweater while browsing the artisenos, which you will get to see me style in a future post.
As we travelled further into the “park”, we found a chapel with locals praying and making confessions and the realization hit us that we maybe weren’t where we wanted to be. We’re easygoing though, so it didn’t strike us as a disaster. We stuck it out and decided on an impromptu climb up an enormous mountain. Four hours later we made it to the peak – after much huffing and puffing, several breaks, and slight exhaustion from the altitude!
We always try to see the good in every situation, and this turned into another memorable experience from our trip so far. It was a pretty scary trek considering we weren’t really prepared to go hiking – I was wearing Converse to traverse loose dirt and rocks, maybe not my best choice! As a backpacker, you really have to be selective in what you carry with you, but maybe hiking gear will find a place on our “to buy” list, just in case. It was all worth it in the end though, as we captured some really beautiful images, which you’ll see below.
A taxi for the 45 minute drive from Cuenca is pretty affordable at around $15, so we’re thinking about possibly heading back to Cajas. Hopefully next time we’ll make it to the main part of the national park, though!
I think these mistakes and accidental discoveries are one of the best parts of backpacking and travelling in general, and they definitely provide some interesting lessons (i.e. don’t wear Converse to climb a gigantic mountain!).
Have you guys ever had an experience like this? Maybe a language barrier meant you ended up somewhere you hadn’t planned, or a fashion-related faux pas like my non-hiking hiking shoes, that made for a really memorable moment?
“May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits.”
– Harley King