Ecuador and Colombia


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South America » Colombia » Bogota
December 12th 2016
Published: December 21st 2016
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Ecuador:

Quito – When Chum and I landed in Quito we immediately felt the infrastructure was a few steps up over Peru. The road from the airport to the hotel was new and it seemed like there were a lot of newer buildings. The main reason to go to Ecuador was to see The Galapagos Islands. We still hadn’t confirmed our cruise because we couldn’t seem to confirm flights to the Galapagos. We discovered that the cheap flights on Avianca that we just couldn’t seem to book were for citizens of Ecuador. There was also a travel agent we were working with the book a cruise. When we got to Quito the first thing we did was try to go to his office. Chum was texting him and we told him we would come over.

I thought it was strange that after Chum told him we were coming over that he didn’t respond. Well, when we got to the office no one was there. It turned out he had gone to another meeting and wasn’t coming back. That was compounded by the fact that there was long weekend holiday coming up as well.

We walked back to the hotel and saw another travel agent across the street. So, we walked in to check it out and to price set. It turned out they were giving a better deal than the original travel agent. They could also book our flights there on the spot. We just had a better feeling about this group. Also, given the other guy’s unpredictability, we felt it was better just to close the deal out.

On day two we headed to the Middle of the World This is supposedly where the Equator lines passes through and there is a large monument and park to commemorate that. However, through the miracle of GPS technology, the actually line is a few hundred meters away. I read some articles on this and even those dispute the actual line, as GPS systems can differ. Still, it’s pretty impressive that they were able to figure this out in the 1500s and be that close. The park was nice with lots of history some science experiments.

After the Equator, we went to the cable car. Apparently, it is the largest in the world. We made it to the top just before sunset. After getting to the top there was some hiking to do still. I was pretty much tired of hiking at this point, but I figure it would probably be the last treacherous trek I would need to take. After doing the Salkantay trek I think I could do pretty much anything.

The Galapagos – We flew to San Cristobal and stayed at this really nice B&B that was run by a family. I’m pretty sure they did all the work themselves. You could tell they put a lot of time into designing it. The rooftop restaurant had an amazing view of the town and bay.

After we checked in we walked downtown to get a bite to eat for lunch. Then, we headed towards the water where there were scores of sea lions. They were just all out laying around. They seemed very comfortable with humans and just went about their day to day activities of laying around and occasionally lifting their heads to see what was going on. Our last day on San Cristobal Island we took bikes from the hotel and road for a few hours to the other end of the island. This was one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen.

The next day we took a boat to Santa Cruz island. We had the rest of the day to kill before we met our group for the tour. We walked through this Darwin conserve. The beach was amazing and there were iguanas everywhere. It amazing how they blend into the rocks. Once I was just taking a break only to look to my side and see a giant iguana just sitting there. That night we went to dinner and randomly ran into a couple from Canada that we had met on Lake Titicaca.

Before getting on the boat we had to meet our group at the airport. A few people we running late so we got on the boat and were told the latecomers would meet us later. Our boat was the Nemo I, a catamaran. Chum and I had laid out all the options for boats and he really lobbied for the Nemo I. I thought a bigger boat would be more stable at sea and that there would be more people. But, in retrospect, I’m really glad we took this catamaran. We got to become close to the people onboard and the experience on a smaller boat I think was better.

The Galapagos has a lot of great wildlife. We went snorkeling every day and took tours every day of parts of the islands. Just to rundown the highlights we: snorkeled with sea turtles, sting rays, manta rays, a shark, sea lions, tons of multicolored fish, and saw tons of coral. I did step on a sea urchin and punctured my foot. I basically limped the whole time. We also hiked in a deep cave and saw tons of birds including the booby and albatross. We also did a tour of a turtle reserve, where some turtles live up to 200 years. Once cool experience was seeing a humpback whale and then having dolphins swimming alongside our boat and jumping out of the water.

It was also during this week that the US elections were going on. On the night of the election we happened to be close to one of the 3 cities in the Galapagos that have cell coverage. Chum and I were checking our phones early in the evening to see if we could get any results. We started pulling out of that area around 7:30 pm and we knew this was probably our last chance to know anything until 2 days later. The last data we were able to get was Florida polling 75% and Clinton ahead by a point. Also, the bigger cities there still needed to report so we thought she would probably win. The next morning when I go up one of the girls told me that our guide, Ivan, said that Trump won. I couldn’t believe it. I thought he was playing an old Ecuadorian joke. But no, he heard correctly. I wished more than ever that I could get a data signal to read everything, but I had zero bars. An hour or so later I was able to cell reception (not data) and I got a text message from my brother saying, “You might not want to come home for four years.” At this point I knew it wasn’t an Ecuadorian joke and asked my brother to text me the data on the swing states and any other relevant data. It just seemed so surreal. I knew it wouldn’t be until the next evening that I could get full data reception and I kept wondering what kind of world I would be coming back to.

As we got back to port we all went out to a bar and couldn’t get off of our phones. All the foreigners on the trip gave their condolences. Everyone couldn’t believe it.



Colombia:

Cartagena – After spending an extra night in Quito, we flew to Cartagena via Bogota. Cartagena reminded me to Miami and San Juan combined. Our hotel between a very modern mall and a fortress that was originally built to protect the city. After checking in we headed downtown to walk through the old streets. I text my cousin to tell her I was in Colombia and she immediately responded to go to a restaurant named “Carmen”. Since it was close we headed there for dinner. However, Carmen wasn’t there.

Day 2 in Cartagena was hot and humid. Chum met me downtown later that day for lunch. He had a friend passing through on a long layover so we all went out for a late lunch. This was Chums last full day as he was heading back to the US the next day.

Medellin – I took a flight to Medellin the day after Chum left. I was politely surprised by the city. I was only there for a few days so I did a hop on hop off tour. I also took the cable car to the top of a mountain for a full flew of the city. I met a girl from Mexico and we hung out and got dinner together and met the next day to check out a park and museum.

Bogota – The last stop on the trip was Bogota. I flew there as well. A Colombian friend put me in contact with a friend of her cousin. Colombians are really outgoing. I didn’t even know this person and she agreed to take me around downtown Bogota all day. I felt like I had my own private tour guide. The next day I went back to the city center and went to the top of a tour to see the town and up a steep cable car to the top of a mountain. Unfortunately, the clouds were too low so by the time you got to the top the visibility was limited.

Bogota was the last stop on the South American leg of the journey. Two months in South America and being in a lot of remote areas gave me new appreciation for the vastness of the continent.



Next Stop – Europe (by way of the USA)!!!


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