Trip to the Jungle


After 3 months in Quito I was eager to escape its urban din and cross those mountains that looked down upon me every morning. Large cities become very similar no matter what continent you are in and I was getting sick of the walk back and forth to work, the endless lines of buses and incessant cars beeping and roaring around the streets. I had come to Ecuador to climb the Andes, mix with the indigenous tribes, learn from the people and bathe in the warm Amazon River not join the queues and hordes in inner city toil. At last Semana Santa (Holy or Easter week) was my chance to escape.

I had searched the internet for a place that provided cultural breaks and found “The Suchipakari Eco Lodge” which was situated on the edge of the Andes and promised the right mix of relaxation and adventure. It lay about 20 miles south of the town of Tena, a small city that depended on tourism and cinnamon as its main industries. I had to make my own way their but the bus fare would only cost around 10-12 dollars return and I was assured that a local would pick me up from the station when I arrived. So straight after work I headed off to the far edges of Quito and Quitumbe Bus station. By bus it was a good hour to get there so I splashed out for a taxi and zipped my way to the station reaching the busy depot just before 9 o’clock.

Latin America suffers from a stereotypical old fashioned reputation especially the Andean countries where you expect locals to be toiling up hills with donkeys and all the buildings to be tiny adobe walled huts however Quitumbe bus station was more modern than any bus station I had visited in Europe and easy to find your way around. The bus companies each had their own little booth and had their prices, destinations and timetables on view behind attentive and friendly staff. As the biggest holiday week in Latin America the bus station was heaving and people packed out the main hall. Couples were huddled together, kids scrambling about, whole families lying on mattresses and old women were wrapped in thick homemade blankets. Many locals were sipping on coffee in an effort to fight the evening temperature, as when the sun goes down in Ecuador the altitude kicks in and the bitter cold takes hold.

A ticket collector directed me to the proper terminal which already had more waiting passengers than possible for a 50 seated bus. There were a few families in the queue, each with large boxes and overfilled bags. An old woman held a cat in her arms and little boy trailed a wild eyed dog. As I leaned back on a post I heard a quack and looked around to see a couple of bags rumbling at my feet. It was a bag of ducks, alive and being transported along with us humans. I felt sorry for those poor birds tied up in a sack. As usual in Latin America there was a mini battle to get on to the bus and although I had booked a ticket I initially feared that I may not get on. Manners and politeness go straight out the window with the locals, its every man, woman and child for themselves and as soon as the bus driver opened his door the passengers barged, shoved and jostled their way on board. I only managed to get on because I was harder to budge and such a hassle to everyone’s embarkation.

I never find it easy to sleep on buses abroad, there is always the apprehension that someone may rifle your bags or pick your pocket as you snooze also tonight I had the constant meowing of the moggie two rows down and as result the squeaky pine of the overexcited mutt. (Luckily for me the ducks were stowed in the hold below). As it was a night journey the lights were turned off leaving the garish luminous glow like those of low end strip bars to enlighten the bus. I did managed to get sporadic moments of sleep in 10 -15 minute spells but as the journey was a good 6 hours I could hardly say it was restful. I remember waking for the last time after a mini snooze and watching the sun rise over the huge mountains.

The landscape had changed drastically and even within the air cooled bus you could tell the temperature had warmed gathered my gear together while the other passengers began to wake and ready themselves for arrival.  I jumped off at Tena bus station, an old broken down building that hadn’t been cleaned or painted in decades. I did have a phone number to call but there was no answer after several attempts and it quickly became obvious that I would have to make my own way to the lodge. As it was early in the morning there were not many people about so I had to hang about until lazy taxi drivers started to show an interest. I finally managed to secure a lift down to the town of Misahaulli where I was promised I could get a 4×4 deep into the jungle where the Lodge was. I arrived in a small town 30 minutes later which had small monkeys nibbling on scraps on the street and chasing cats. These were the famous Capochin monkeys that stole tourists’ cameras and handbags, disappearing up trees with their bounty. Luckily, a local driver was able to leave immediately so we jumped into his new pickup truck and set off down a dirt track and into the never-ending foliage. Plants with huge leaves dominated the sides of the roads, wild banana trees and long grass and vines encroaching on the road and strangling the manmade structures. The only signs of inhabitants were the wooden shacks that were built on huge stilts to protect the owners from floods and crawly beasts below. The track road was uneven and rough and twisted like a long snake up, down and through the harsh terrain.

I managed to strike a basic conversation with the driver.

“Where are you from?” he asked in Spanish.

“Scotland” I replied.

“Where is that, in America?” he asked.

“No, in the North of Europe. Do you know the film Braveheart?” I asked.

“Ahhh, William Wallassh, with the skirts, ha ha” He replied.

“Yeah, that’s the one” I said.

He was middle aged and fairly overweight with a beer belly that spilled over his belt. He was wearing a yellow, Ecuadorian Barcelona shirt (they are the big football team from Guayaquil on the coast) and we were able to share our love for football, our teams and Lionel Messi. Like many taxi drivers the conversation he was keen to learn about the different types of whisky and the women in my country, fed him some invented information given that I knew little about either. After a further 30 minutes and a sore arse from the billion bumps in the road we reached another shack by a dirty slow river. Again there was no one to meet me or offer assistance. The only signs of life were to two horrible spiders lying in the middle of their vast webs that spanned the shacks rafters. I decided to ignore them ad tell myself they were probably harmless. I paid the driver and I reminded him to pick me up again in two days, he laughed and directed me up a dirt path to the Lodge. I could feel the mosquitoes nip my legs and many varied flies bump off my face as I traipsed up the track. There were a million noises made by a million insects, birds and anonymous jungle beasts all around me, this was their home and I was the intruder. In truth, despite the nervous excitement all I could think of was getting a few hours’ kip and maybe a shower before a pre-planned jungle trek in the afternoon.

I was welcomed by a worker at the entrance who needed a bit of coaxing, by showing my invoice, to let me into a room. My room was basic and completely assembled out of wood from the chairs, table and walls to the roof above. The sheets were clean and draped over two sturdy beds at either ends of the room, there was no TV nor internet but one electric plug to charge your phone or IPod. Thankfully there was a net covering the glassless windows as I knew at the dusk those dammed bugs and mossies would be eager to sneak inside. I dumped my stuff and joined a table where a group of tourists were already tucking into breakfast.

As is often the Lodge didn’t look as plush and luxurious as the internet photographs. It was fairly run down and struggling to strive within the jungle. It was really just a big shed decorated with indigenous paintings and ornaments and was attractive in a basic sort of way. It was surrounded by thatched roofed cabanas which were linked by narrow footpaths and shaded by grand palm trees. There was an old swimming pool out front which was full of dank water and green algae with some type of beetles skating on the surface. Large butterflies glided from tree to bush and wasps and dragonflies buzzed in and around the many exotic flowers. At the bottom of the garden were couple of raised platforms where you could lie in hammocks and gaze down the valley. The main reception was also a bar with a beer fridge and spirit bottles on shelves, there didn’t seem to be any computers but a large TV sat above the bar showing some early morning soap opera. In the main dining area there was an old pool table and 5 wooden tables and chairs and some furniture made from tree trunks. There were no windows leaving the whole place open to the jungle but a large corrugated tin roof protected everything from the afternoon downpours.

The other guests were already finishing their breakfast so horsed down my meal of exotic fruits, local delicacies and homemade coffee. I was just beginning to relax when a guide came to my table.

“We leave in 15 minutes, for Jungle trek” he said smiling.

I strained a smirk of faux enthusiasm but it betrayed my utter devastation at the news.

The FIFA rankings don’t lie, much.

The FIFA rankings are notoriously confusing and sometimes spurious however what they show is current form in the World game. Croatia have moved into 5th position and although impressive in UEFA qualification Group B can hardly be merited as the 5th best team in the World. Similarly a faltering Portugal do not deserve their 6th position (they currently lie 3rd in Group F behind Russia and Israel.

The top ten is made up of the usual faces with England even placed at 7th despite trailing Montenegro in Group H. Ecuador have been boosted into 10th position but this probably a fair reflection given the Andean nations recent form.

1 Spain
2  Germany
3  Argentina
4  Croatia
5  Portugal
6  Colombia
7  England
8  Italy
9  Netherlands
  10 Ecuador

Brazil have plummeted to their worst ever ranking at 19th suffering from their lack of telling international games in the run up to their hosting of the World Cup in 2014.

Scotland (deep breath) continue their decent into oblivion and lie in 77th position between Congo and Canda. This doesn’t deserve a comment.

Montero shines in Quito.

Ecuador 4 Paraguay 1


Ecuador took a huge step towards qualification with a comfortable win over Paraguay. The win puts “La Tri” on 20 points thanks mainly to their home form in the Atahaulpa stadium.

Ecuador started with a full strength team that included Antonio Valencia, Cristain Benitez, Jefferson Montero and Filipe Caicedo. The only change from the usual 11 was the dropping of Luis Saritama for Pedro Quinonez. With a crammed home crowd behind them, Ecuador must have felt full of confidence but they didn’t reflect this on the pitch, early on.

Paraguay took the lead in the 15th minute through Luis Cabellero who shot low past Dominguez to silence the partisan hoards. It was a well taken goal but the defenders should have cleared the ball instead of dallying in the box.

The goal stung the Ecuadorians into action and they attacked Bolivia mercilessly, mainly down the flanks through the tricky Montero and Quinonez. Achilier saw his header hit the crossbar in the 24th minute then Valencia volleyed home 5 minutes later, only for it to be chalked off by the linesman. It was clear Paraguay were not going to hold out.


The equaliser was as inevitable as the scorer. Felipe Caicedo was brought back into the fold by Reinaldo Rueda for this campaign and he has repaid his coach with 5 goals at vital moments during these qualifiers. Just before half time he bustled his way past the Paraguayan defence to head in an Ayovi close from close range.


Ecuador started the 2nd half in similar fashion destroying the Paraguayans with their pace and long, deep cross field balls. In the 50th minute Quinonez dropped a splendid pass onto the feet of the onrushing Montero. The Morelia midfielder slipped past the left back then drove the ball into the net to take the lead.

Four minutes later Montero again was tormentor in chief dribbling past two defenders, cutting back then crossing for “Chucho” Benitez to head home for the third. Paraguay were being over-run by wave after wave of yellow shirts with only the woodwork saving them.


 With 15 minutes Montero exchanged a one-two with Saritama and set-off on another mazy like run, snaking through the red and white jerseys with ease. Upon reaching the goal area is shot wrong footed the helpless Baretto and the ball trickled into the goal. It was fortunate but he had made his own luck.

Another home win sets Ecuador in an excellent 2nd position behind Argentina. Their next games are against Peru, away then Messi & Co in Quito. The Argentinians are notoriously weak at altitude so two draws are not overly optimistic. With Montero is this type of form another home win could seal a summer in Brazil.

Barcelona come to town

On Sunday it was back to the Atahaulpa Stadium to watch the current champions : Deportivo Quito against the champions elect: Barcelona.

Although i arrived with my friend at the stadium 15 mins before the game it took at least half an hour to get into the Atahaulpa. Long lines were snaked around the ground with the police doing their disorganised best to slowly, filter the throngs throw the narrow, turnstiles. One gate was for blue and red bedecked fans of Deportivo the others for the vast amount of yellow, Barcelona” hinchas”.

Only when Barcelona had scored and the many fans became restlessness did the police and authorities begin to shepherd the fans through at a acceptable rate.

Barcelona enjoy a huge support in both in Quito and Guayaquil and are probably only matched in popularity with Liga de Quito. Although the base of support is in Ecuador’s biggest city they can count on supporters from all over the country.

In much the same way Rangers and Celtic  attract fans from all over Scotland, Barcelona and Liga gather the most fans from all over Ecuador.

In recent years the Quito teams have dominated league titles with Deportivo Quito, El Nacional and Liga sharing 9 titles between them. You have to go back to 1997 for Barcelona’s last title although city rivals Emelec did win the title in 2001 and 2002.

Upon entering the stadium it was clear that the Deportivo Quito fans or “chullas” were totally outnumbered by about 4-1. The yellow and black of Barcelona covered 70 % of the stadium and with their team already 1-0 up to a Nina header they were in fine voice.

Deportivo had only the main stand to fill and numbered around 6-7,000 but as their were some spare rows of seats the police began to funnel some yellow and black fans into the Deportivo end. This did not go down well with hardcore members at the front and they immediately rushed to confront to the opposition, forcing them back into the Barcelona section. A few bottles were thrown and insults traded but in truth it was little more than handbags from very, young looking “hooligans”. The riot police and their batons and Alsatians seemed to dampen their enthusiasm.

nI such an atmosphere it’s sometimes difficult to concentrate on the match, especially when you know Deportivo are so poor in front of goal and have little chance of  scoring but the game ebbed and flowed with Barcelona seemingly content to let Deportivo attack.

Luckily, again we had the benefit of enthusiastic beer vendors  and police were happy to let us stand at the back and peer over the crowd.

Much has been made in the Ecuadorian media about the country’s hooligan problem but in the 20-30 matches i have attended here in Quito I have yet to see some trouble bar the throwing of plastic bottles or the odd plastic beer cup. It’s certainly no where near the levels that the UK or Europe had but i guess it doesn’t take much for things to get out of hand. The police were very aware of the threat and quick to intervene.

The only kerfuffle in the terraces today happened in the Barcelona hoards in the south stand. A yellow shirted youth (my friend was convinced it was a girl but not I) was thrown around like a rag doll and unceremoniously booted and punched through throngs of people and out of the exit. It was unclear what he had done to deserve this treatment but it must have been bad as his own brethren turned on him. The police pounced on him and escorted him away.

In the end Barcelona won two nil, thanks to; some dreadful refereeing decisions, two Deportivo red cards, some dreadful Deportivo forward play and a wonderful free kick form Michael Arroyo in the 90th minute (who in turn was strangely red-carded).

The Barcelona fans were ecstatic at the end, knowing they had all but secured their first title in 15 years while the Deportivo Quito fans solemnly shuffled out of the Atahaulpa. A feeling they have known all to well in a disastrous season.


Barcelona on the brink of Championship

Barcelona all but sealed the Segunda Etape title (and overall championship) with a lucky win against Deportivo Quito yesterday.

They took the lead through a Narcisso Mina header in the 13th minute then seemed happy to sit back and let Deportivo control the game. However it quickly became clear that Deportivo were not going to score especially when they lost Paredes to a second yellow and Morales to a straight red in the second half.

Deportivo were finally punished for their profligacy in front of goal when Arroyo sealed the win with a fine 30 yard free kick in 90 minutes.


Elsewhere, Emelec confirmed their involvement in next years Copa Libertadores by winning 2-1 at home against El Nacional while Olmedo cemented their relegation to Segunda B after another home loss, this time to Deportivo Cuenca.

Independiente recorded a fine win against Liga de Quito. A Daniel Angulo strike in 57 minutes was enough to grab 3 points and continue their push for a Libertadores spot. The team from Sangloqui are universally recognised as the best youngsters in Ecuador and it remains to be seen how many of their players they can retain for next season, especially with their links to Spurs and the bigger Ecuadorian teams circling


The final places are calculated over the two “etapes” or stages and as Barcelona should win both their will not be a final play-off match this year.

With two teams to be relegated to the Segunda B El Nacional, Macara or Ted de Universitario may yet join Olmedo and drop down a division. This would be particularly disastrous who are an historic giant of Ecuadorian football with a record equaling 13 championships.


With two games left to play it should be a a tight end to the bottom of the Serie A.

Cumulative Standings
Team P W D L Pts GD
1. Barcelona
41 21 13 7 76 +37
2. Emelec
40 21 7 12 70 +20
3. Indepndiente del Valle
41 17 11 13 62 +4
4. Liga de Quito
41 14 18 9 60 +11
5. Deportivo Cuenca   41 17 8 16 59 -5
6. Liga de Loja
41 15 13 13 58 +4
7. Deportivo Quito  


40 13 14 13 53 +8
8. Manta FC


41 14 11 16 53 +2
9. El Nacional


41 12 13 16 49 -13
10. Macara


41 13 7 21 46 -18
11. Tec de Universitario


41 11 13 17 46 -19
12. Olmedo  


41 9 8 24 35 -31

Barcelona win the battle of the big two.

With 2 teams to be relegated from Serie A, El Nacional’s home victory against Macara will do much to allay their supporters fears.

After last week’s Derby defeat they were hovering around the relegation spots and although these 3 points moves them 3 points away with a game in hand they are not out of the woods yet.

As the the final league standings are calculated over two mini-seasons Olmedo look certain to fall into Serie B despite having a fairly impressive 2nd term,Macara and Tecnico Universitario (who currently sit 2nd of this term) have a battle to see who joins them.


At the top of the table Barcelona continued their arch to the title after a 1-o win at home to Quito giants, Liga. José Manuel Ayovi grabbed the winner just before half-time.

Elsewhere Independiente compounded Emelec’s misery from last week with a 2 – 0 defeat while Deportivo Quito recorded a 0-0 stalemate in Ambato versus Tecnico Universitario.



Deportivo Cuenca 1 – 1 Manta F.C.
Técnico Universitario 0 – 0 Deportivo Quito
Independiente del Valle 2 – 0 Emelec
El Nacional 2 – 1 Macará
Liga de Loja 2 – 1 Olmedo
Barcelona 1 – 0 Liga de Quito
In Serie B Deportivo Universidad Católica and Deportivo Quevedo ensured their promotion to Serie A after topping the hexagonal series.