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All these orchids weigh a lot…

And by that we mean they weigh a lot on us! It’s been 2 full weeks of orchid spotting and frankly, our energy is at its lowest. Here’s a typical day for us:

Waking up every day at 7:00AM, breakfast at 7:30 and by 8:00 we’re on the road. Either directly to spot orchids, or a quick stop at the shop for some ham, cheese, sandwiches and a bit of fruit/chocolate bars.

Stopping at every interesting spot until 1-2 PM, quick lunchbreak and back on the road until 4-6 PM depending on our luck finding orchids we like! All that at 1500-3000m high, soaking wet from the regular rains and cold from the altitude, we get back around 7PM, dinner at 7:30 and off to the room.

Quick shower, sorting through the day’s pictures (deleting a lot mainly) and getting the blog ready to post every 2 days.

So far, the WiFi hasn’t been good to us and it’s often at 7AM we’re having to post everything before breakfast (that means waking up at 6:30AM).

It’s awesome, but a lot to take in as well and more work than we’d like. The things we do for orchids…

Day 14 – Road from Cuenca to Chiguinda

This is me, 7AM, posting our previous blog.

First stop of the day, not much except for this Caucaea (another nubigena?) and large flowered Stelis sp.

On the road to Chiguinda, and after an hour of driving, our third orchid: Epidendrum fimbriatum. I just so love this species. I mean, how white can you get? And the place is literally carpeted with this species.

Further up (nearing the Paramo) we found a little patch of low trees that looked interesting so we decided to go and take a look. Yes, we’ve acquired the “that looks like an orchid-bearing tree” skill. Not much, except for this time, we found the red form of Lepanthopsis apoda.

Higher still, another patch of trees and there you go, another Lepanthes sp. Or is it Draconanthes sp.? The flowers are so like and unlike Lepanthes at the same time…

Following the same road, we end up at this little waterfall along the way with a blanket of Lepanthes sp., type mucronata I would say. We’ve never seen this many Lepanthes at the same time in-situ, just look at it!

Last but one stop (we can’t go much higher…), what we think is a Cyrtochilum sp. (looks a bit like Cyrtochilum myanthum).

Final highlight of the day. We were invited to eat a very special Ecuatorian dish: Cuy! Or as we’d say in English: Guinea pig. Yes, guinea pig. It was actually really good, after you’ve passed the mental block saying you’re eating somebody’s pet. Except they’re not pets in Ecuador. Gotta try new things in life right?

Day 15 – Road to Mendez via Guarumales

Originally planning to go via Plan de Milagro, we found the road blocked about 20 mins past Gualaceo. Rats! Change of plans, but a good one.

Today was a nice day aside from orchids, as we only got wet once (whoop!) and found a lot of insects. Caterpillars, grasshoppers, millipedes, and more bugs.

At about 1800m high, we found this tiny flowered Pleurothallis sp. Small, but vibrant colors.

(another) first for us, Cryptocentrum sp. We saw a lot of those during the whole day. Seems like they’re from this area.

More Elaphoglossum peltatum, another form this time! What a lovely little thing.

A big Stelis sp. with peculiar flowers.

And this Tillandsia sp. with an incredibly long flower stalk!

Oh! Another one we know. Stelis uniflora is a cute little miniature we found in a meadow.

When you say meadow, you think…cows! These 2 were very interested in what we were doing there. The white one just kept following us. Or eating Philodendron leaves…

Next to the Stelis uniflora, this much smaller tiny Stelis sp.

Still in the meadow (with cows tailing us), a big clump of Pleurothallis sp. reminds me of Pleurothallis dilemma, but not quite…

Pretty good for a first stop of the day! Further up, a big big flower of a Passiflora.

And on a tiny twig right next to me while taking a picture of the passiflora, I noticed this mini-miniature. What is it?! Looks like a Telipogon somehow, but this small?

Final stop of the day, and what we’d been looking for in this region: Andinias! Andinia nummularia was definitely there, along with 2 other sp. we’ll have to identify later on. Unfortunately, most were found on cut-down trees…let’s hope these species find new homes.

Tonight, we decided to have dinner at a tiny…restaurant? Not sure you can call it that, it was basically a very friendly woman grilling some meat on the bbq. Delicious though. And a kitten as a side-dish. Although it was more into eating us than the other way around.

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