Phillip Bannowsky


The Mother Earth Inn

Broken Turtle Books

and iUniverse

Cover Painting: Fiesta de Vaca Loca,  By Francisco  Toaquiza

Provincia de Cotopaxi, Ecuador1993

           Neoliberals, neocons, revolutionaries, folk musicians, an ambassador’s New Age wife, river-damming landslides, and one entrepreneurial idealist all collide in the Andean paradise of Phillip Bannowsky’s satirical romance, The Mother Earth Inn.  Hal Rivers, Bannowsky’s feckless hero, descends into the Republic of Esmeraldas just in time for the elections of Bill Clinton back home and an insane populist in Esmeraldas. Hoping to do good while doing well, Hal ends up on a quest that is both picaresque and exposé.


Recipient, Delaware State Arts Council 1998 Emerging Artist Grant

Winner, Delaware Literary Connection Prize for Fiction


Available from

Broken Turtle Books



Chimborazo, Ecuador

The Mother Earth Inn

Chapter 1

La Tarea


Equatorial snowcaps beamed rosily up at Hal as the airliner drifted down. The approaching earth drew on Hal, as a dream draws on a sleeper, down to its luxuries and snares.

A towering Andean volcano slowly crossed his window, and Hal twisted against the seat belt to watch it pass, like an iceberg a-blush in the setting sunlight. Forehead pressed against the cool glass, he gazed down upon the great brown, green, and gray ranges looping round and crunching against each other like the convolutions of undersea coral. Beyond, a crowd of leviathan-like prominences cast broad, black shadows that devoured distant valleys out to the skyline, pink and green and deep blue.


Cascada Peguche, Ecuador

“This cascada is where we celebrate the Inti-Raymi,” began Rafael, “the festival of San Juan and the Inca Sun God. On that day we drink the puro, bathe naked in the cascada, and see the future.” Hal strained to see what sort of oracle lay ahead.

At their approach, the drone seemed to utter a deep, drawn-out o-o-w-a-a-h and blow against them with frigid breath. A heavy, rolling splash beat against the earth. Finally, they climbed up a wet outcropping of quaking dark rock, down through a mossy narrow, and out onto a natural stone balcony, slippery and black. It shook as they gazed on the roaring, white blur, pulsing out of a mountain crevice like blood from some immense heart and spilling into a dozen churning pools a hundred feet below. Hal gripped the walls in terror and howled inaudibly, “God!”


Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Two towering rainbows straddled the rosy-glowing Yahuarpampa Valley, shinning so brightly they lit Hal’s face.

Below the glorious array of rainbows, slant sunlight outlined in black and gold the green of hardwood copses and pastures unevenly landscaped. A stream on the left threaded among scattered huts of tapia and cinder block and meandered southward down the gentle slopes to the broad Yahuarpampa River. There, overlooking the river on a small peninsula, was a tiny pueblo, and in the center of the pueblo was a church that stood among the other buildings like a hen with so many chicks. The bus that had just passed Hal had circled around and descended into the town by the cobblestone road. A paved road, parallel to the river, came into the town from the west, crossed the road the bus was on, and emerged as cobblestone on the far side.

Hal gazed up the other side of the river, where shallow pastures gave way in the distance to a steep quilt tinted every shade of green: aquamarine and fire green, deep sea green and limestone green, glass green and eye green, green of grass and horizon green, smoky green, and every shade of emerald. Among the quilted fields were occasional dots of orange tile or gray thatch, and above them rose the dusty green of the paramo.

All photographs and text © 1986-2011 Phillip Bannowsky