Ecuador first steps in South America

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May 30th 2011
Published: May 30th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Now I have been two weeks in Ecuador and it is time for me to update my travel blog...

I must say, that I can much more adapt to South American culture than to Indian culture, for it being similar to the European culture. I just need to get used to people not being punctual and not keeping word, but as I am never punctual myself, I can cheerfully deal with that.

For one week I aclimatized, as Quito lies at about 2,800 meters above sea level, which means dizziness and head aches for the first couple of days. When it got better we started doing some of the tourist attractions. We've been to the Equator at point 0-0-0 (sorry dad I didn't really check which way the water flushes...but in any case scientist found out that the French who originally placed that point 0-0-0 were wrong by a couple of meters, and the toilets are at the wrong place...), I visited the old colonial town with all the magnificent palaces and churches. There we went to see a museum for precolumbian culture which was absolutely great as we were joined by the designer who decorated and organized the exhibition and could tell us all the details. It was fascinating to see that in many ways these cultures were far more advanced than we are today in terms of religion and social behavior. The essential thing is to be in balance with nature and to respect everyone's role in it. Most impressive for me was that females were verry much respected for being life givers and female anatomy was very well known in those days. Sexuality did not know tabus. It is incredible that our western medicine books just knew about female anatomy a couple of decades back. But these precolumbian cultures existed thousands of years ago. When I was feeling a bit stronger (for having been feed with Coca to be energized), we went up the Pichincha, one of the Volanos of the Andes. We went up by tellyferry about 4,000 meters high. The air gets really thin up there and waqlking is a lot more strenuous than below. But we had fantastic weather and Coca tea with us. I also got to know a bit about the night life here in Quito where Clubs are comparable to any bigger city.

And then we went to Galapagos!!! A paradise spot through and through. Where nature is still untouched and animals are not afraid of humans. Our destination was Isabela island, not the main one, but the biggest of them all. We landed on another island and had to travel nearly the whole day to get to Isabela. First by plain from Quito to Guyaquil and then to Galapagos, then by bus, then by ferry, then by car and then by another boat. This boat ride lasted 3 hours and was the most horrible boat ride I have ever encountered. The sea was quite rough, we had heavy winds and waves going and the boat was quite small, pushed by twin Susuki 300 motors. I really thought my last day had come. It is amazing how one can feel when your are face to face with the force of nature which makes you feel so insignificant and small. The boat was pushed through the waves, ass deep down in water and snout clearly out of it, slitting through those waves and falling had on the other side before being roughly picked up by another wave. What did I read in the brochure on the plane about the wild life...there were sharks in these parts...and at that moment (not joking) I saw fines. At first I thought I was imagining things but the pour terrified guy next to me who was reading the bible all the time pointed his finger and I nodded that I had seen that too. The atmosphere on the boat was funny when I think back. There were two young English girls whose hair was perfectly done before we set off and completely ondone when we arrived, throughout the whole trip they pressed their finger nails into the seats of into their stomachs. Even the Galapagos Islanders themselves were quite scared at first but fell fast asleep after an hour, just waking up once or twice when the wave that we hit was too hard. The women on the other side of me cluched a handkerchief to her mouth and chut her eyes throuout the whole journey and prayed (i guess...). It was thrilling but also just horrifying. One advantage is that you forcibly get to fre your mind of everything because you are just afraid of dying. Your survival system is fully active, but family issues, carreer problems or being lonely does not bother you any more. You just want to get out of this alive and you tell yourself how grateful you should be just to be alive and appreciate the world a little longer. In the end we reached Isabela, knees shaking and stomachs twisted, but alive...
And then we had just good days. Even if the sun was not shining every day, it was just beautiful! Our hotel was happily situated at the beach, and Iguanas where everywhere! The first night I even dreamed that an Iguana was sleeping by my feet and when I felt it I pushed it away and saw the long black tail and screamed. Poor Ricardo had to calm me down, and all day long I really thought I had seen a real Iguana in my bed - hahaha. The first day we were on the beach sun bathing and Ricardo (the friend from Hamburg whos family has adopted me in Quito) went surfing. The next day we went out on a boat to do a tour around an area where we saw more Iguanas, blue feet boobies (birds), Penguins, sea lions, sharks, fishes of all colors and sea turtles. We went through an island which was made of cold lava. A weird volcanic landscape. And then we went snorkeling and swam side by side with turtles penguines and were teased by sea lions who were not scared at all but curious. The last day I went to see one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) crater of a still active volcano - la Sierra Negra. It was a 7 hours hike and we were quite high so that we had cold and wet air around us. I had to blow my nose so may times and I did not realize that in so doing I removed all the sun screen I had put on. So I burned my nose on the volcano - and just my nose hahaha. The crater was impressive, you could hardly see the other side! On one side of the crater I saw a sea of cold lava which once flowed into one of the bays. The whole field is plastered with volcanos. We climbed around this dry and arid landscape which did not let much to grow on except cactuses. We had to be very carful where to go. It is absolutely forbidden to leave the path as lava tubes are scatered all around and may not be so deep underground. If it cracks you could fall into boiling lava. We saw some of the old tubes which cracked open and from the inside you could feel the hot breath of the volcano. In the evening we always ate warm chocolate buns from the bakery which were absolutely delicious, as all the food on that island. Isabela is not as tourity as the other islands, for it only had tourism for 4 years while the others experienced over 50 years of tourism. I enjoyed to be quiet and calm on Isabela (my island by the way). Just the south tip is inhabited. All the rest is national park and protected. We met very nive people. Some surfers, some divers and classes of school kids doing some first hand study on nature. In the evenings our hotel was a meeting point for all the young people of the town, with a beach volleyball ground and happy hour from 5 to 7.
Our return home (to Quito) was much more enjoyable than the way to get to Isabela. I was drearing the boat ride, but this time it only took 2 hours and was really nice and relaxed. Still we had to do the whole thing again - boat, car, ferry, bus, plane. We've used all possible transportation devices in Ecuador on one day for the whole day.

Now I am back in Quito. Ricardo left for Hamburg and I am now on my own to learn Spanish. This is my next project. Today school will start and I will have classes every day for 3 months. Hopefully I can have decent conversations after that for I already experienced some Spanish overload and frustration because I could not follow conversations. But that will come eventualy. One other funny thing that happened to me is that I may have the chance to go on an audition for Cabaret! Imagine that! Me as a dancer in Cabaret in Quito - I would have never guessed such a thing. But a friend of mine told me that the Iguana dream may hint to some special social occasion or someone new in my life who might be inspiring, so who knows...

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