Nobody told me that the mystical place where the old tree stood was such an abandoned and lonely. On the contrary, kind hostel guy advised me to visit the place, can not be missed, and Mr.policeman even explained me how to get there by walking!
All right, I spent more time at the animal fair as I planned to so instead of walking to the tree, I asked a few taxi guys to drive me there, two of them looked at me and refused to drive there without any explanation. Well, I though that maybe it wasn’t worth of it for them in terms of money but to be honest, 4€ seemed a quiet a lot for me supposing that the tree was only 2-3 kilometers away from Otavalo, the city where I was.
“Do you really want to get to Lechero?” asked me the third taxi driver.
“Of course, I was said it is a lovely place“.
“But do you go alone“? he kept asking me.
“Do you see anybody else with me?” I dared to respond him that way.
“You are right, but I just want to warn you- it is a bit dangerous for a girl who is alone, there is nothing special“.
“Do not worry, I am used to wander alone, I has been traveling alone in Colombia“.
“Then it is okay, I see you know what you do… I hope so”.
The driver started to tell me about his bad Colombian experience and perceptions and how he doesn’t like Colombians because are too talkative and always want to take advantge of others.
Meanwhile he was talking, I was looking through the window thinking “where the hell are we going?“. The road was in very bad condition and was dusty, there were a lot of rocks on it, no traffic signs, no other cars passing by, no other people. It was not the first time I thought that I had been kidnapped (no jokes!). We drove more than supposed 3 kilometers and passed some shabby houses. Then I noticed a sign telling “El Parque Condor” (Condor Park) and got relieved because I knew that Condor Park was near the famous tree.
Suddenly we turned right and went uphill, crossing fields of some grown plants which I could not identify. After few meters the yellow taxi cab stoped and taxi driver pointed to abandoned tree saying “here we are chica, this is Lechero tree“.
“Is that that famous tree?” I wondered because I imagined it a bit prettier, bigger and without fences around it.
“Yes, I warned you before- there is nothing, only one tree. How do you get back to Otavalo?” he showed a kind of concern for my situation, “because it is very rarely that some taxi passes by and walking is too far“.
He was right. I was about to ask him if he could wait 15minutes meanwhile I took some pictures but then I thought: “Come on, that place is supposed to me touristy, for sure I can get somehow from here“.
So I said: “That’s okay, thank you very much, I will get back by walking or if not, then I go to San Pedro lake and for sure there is a bus connection to Otavalo. Have a nice day!”
I paid, closed the door and the last words he directed to me were ” Good luck“.
So there I was completely alone and completely disappointed. I could not approach closely the tree because of the iron fence that protected it since some people are too stupid and find a pleasure in damaging not only historical buildings, but also nature. The perfect photo-composition- the tree and nice blue lagoon in the background which I created in my head vanished like a vapor. I could not get to the tree, the sky was cloudy and the day a bit dull, just all wrong- wrong. And there was no one except me and small hidden tent I saw few meter away. Noise of wind and barking dogs where the only sounds I heard.
I stayed only 5 minutes at the place, made a few shots and swearing to myself I decided to return back to Otavalo, but how and which way? The problem was that there were many paths and I somehow forgot which direction we came from.
” You are such a idiot!” I thought.
I heard the sound of motorcycle and then I noticed it was a police officer checking out the place. I started to wave at him like a recently released from an insane asylum. He approached me, stopped, put his helm down and asked me what I was doing there alone.
“Visiting Lechero tree” I replied.
“Alone? You shouldn’t be alone here” he said.
“I should or not, please take me back to Otavalo”, I thought.
I hopped on the moto, did not put the helmet on and like main general of troops I said: “To the Peguche Waterfall please!”
Nothing would have been strange if he had not kept kept asking me kind of weird questions: “Do you know Ecuatorian police officers’ uniforms look like ? Is the same I wear today? How do you know I am a real policeman?”
“Well man, to be honest, you are confusing me right now. Do I get kidnapped again?” I thought.
I did not. Juan was real police officer, he took me to the Peguche waterfall as promised and moreover gave me his phone number, just in case. That case came Monday afternoon when I was about to cross Ecuatorian- Colombian border again and he called me.
“Do you want to hang out?” Juan asked me.
“Sorry, I am back in Colombia. Maybe next time if I get lost at Lechero Tree again“.
Travel Tip: I was said that it is pretty common to call Ecuatorian police officers when you are lost. They will look for you, pick you up and take you to the place where you are staying. No idea if it is a funcional pattern for whole Ecuador but in my case it worked.
I got lost and then rescued by police officer. Thank you Juan!