When the water rises - head for high ground. And that's just what thousands of ants did the night of our exhausting horseback adventure.
Cabinas Yambala is just outside the town of Vilcabama and is run by Charlie, formerly of Boston, who has lived in Ecuador since the 70's. When we returned from the mountain he told us he was getting worried that we hadn't returned. It had never happened that people hadn't returned, but having rained an extraordinary amount in 3 hours, the rivers were raging and darkness would make it very difficult to return. I didn't ask what could have been done if we hadn't come back! But now that we were back, we could get cleaned up, have something to eat and sleep.
Sometime after midnight I was woken by Ma-Le who yelled "something bit me". I tapped the lamp on the nightstand and it began to softly glow, illuminating the low-ceiling, wood-framed cabin and revealing a frantic Ma-Le who had discovered not only the ant that had bitten her, but the army of ants that had taken positions on the battlefield of a blanket.
As a kid I was known to exaggerate - someday I'll retell the story of the "100 dead squirrels", but suffice it to say that the lesson I learned in telling that tale was only embellish that which can not be proven to be false. So when I say there were several hundred if not thousands of ants peppering the blanket, pillows, floor and walls I have an honest Ecuadorian who can back up this claim. Just replace the snakes with ants from Raiders of the Lost Ark and this was the scene we'd awoken to.
The super saturated earth outside had left the ants with no alternative but to join us indoors and remarkably, only one ant had taken exception to our presence by biting Ma-Le. Had it not done so, we may have slumbered blissfully unaware of the insects that trekked on, over and around us just as we had trekked the mountain the day before.
But it did bite and woe were the ants who minded their own business. They were brushed off, swept up and escorted back out into the rain. So tired were we from our excursion the day before that we didn't care that they would just trot right back in - 6 legs at a time.
A few thousand ants? Far better than rats, snakes or spiders.