Virgen del Paramo

Virgen del Paramo

Estacion Cientifica Yasuni, Yasuni National Park, Ecuador – I am so glad to be back in el bosque.  I left Quito yesterday with Patricia Ojeda and Luis with the food truck.  I made them stop by Hotel Pickett so I could drop off a note for Christina.

This was the fifth time I made this trip, but it was also the most fantastic.  I thought that the skies had been pretty clear on my other trips, but I know now that they must have been quite hazy.  After driving for some time in the páramo there is an alter to Mary on the side of the road with a sign that reads “Virgen del Páramo“.  It was at this point that we first saw her, my one true love at first sight.  I have left my heart in the páramo with her and I will never be the same. 

Her name is Antisana and she is an active volcano.

Bear crossing sign - Virgen del Paramo
In 2018, spectacled bear crossing signs are common on the pass near Antisana and the Virgen del Paramo location. This was not the case in 1996. Photo: Arlo Hemphill, The Green Gatsby

I don’t know how I could have missed her before as her immense snow-covered peak dominates the horizon.  After the initial sighting we caught glimpse after glimpse of her among elfin and cloud forest.  Each time I saw her my heart leapt. Dios está allá. God is there. My life is in the ocean, my work is in the forest, but my destiny is in the clouds.

We returned to Yasuni with a warm welcome.  Everyone was worried about my health.  I was just disappointed that the Rio Tiputini was at low levels again.  Also, I am a little hurt that Anelio is back now and has been paired up with me.  I guess my last day of work while being sick just didn’t cut it with Alfredo.  Oh well, in the long run it will probably be better for my Spanish to keep working with one of the others.  Besides, Anelio is such a funny character.  I still have a couple months to prove myself.

I have discovered that I am severely allergic to sulfur drugs.  I became quite dehydrated on the trip yesterday, and began to feel like I had a severe urinary tract infection.  I decided to take one of Nina’s pills again, and within a few hours I had all the symptoms of before: red skin, headache, chills, etc. At least I know now, but what a waste of time.  I couldn’t even work again today because I was feeling too ill. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Header photo (top of page):  Volcán Antisana taken from Papallacta- hot springs and road to Cayambe-Coca, Napo Province, Ecuador. Photo:  Don Henise/Flickr/Creative Commons

Feature photo (top of post):  The sign now reads ‘Reina del Paramo’ (Queen of the Paramo).  I’m not sure if I got it wrong in 1996 or whether it’s been changed. Photographer unknown.

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