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July 22nd 2012
Published: July 22nd 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

July 21: Latacunga from Mindo:

We woke up at 5:30am to catch our 6:30 bus back to Quito. After arriving at Terminal La Ofelia, we tried to do what the bus folks had told us to do in order to get to the south terminal, Quitumbre. First, we took a taxi for $2.50 (although the bus folks had told us it should cost a dollar) to the north terminal, Carcelen. Arriving there, we did our best to find the bus to Quitumbre, but none of the ticket sellers would/could sell to us and kept giving us the roundaround, sending us from one window to another. Finally, we asked one of the guards and he said we just had to wait for that bus to show up, then the driver would tell us what window to go to. We tried that, but the guy at that window wouldn't sell either, and by that time I had to Ecuadorians trying to buy one too. Finally, one guy who was trying to get his wife and mother on a bus to that same area talked a taxi into taking us there for ten dollars. I don't know if that sounds cheap or expensive, as it depends on where you are, but in Ecuador, my experience was that it was okay for a longer trip. It turned out to be a VERY long trip and the guy should have asked for twenty dollars. We arrived at the Quitumbere terminal, after dropping off the other two ladies who'd chatted with my wife the whole way (something like 45 minutes), even giving my wife there address and phone number in case we were in Quito again and wanted to visit.

The north terminal, Carcelen was a chaotic madhouse with nothing in the way of ammenities except for tons of booths selling everything under the sun. Quitumbre on the other hand was ultra modern, with good security and everything. We bought two tickets to Latacunga for three dollars (they charge one dollar per hour of travel!), and went out to the departure gates to find our bus slot. Unbelievably, it was the only one with a real line waiting, so we got in line and waited thru one whole bus until the second one, on which we barely made it. People kept trying to jump ahead or climb on the bus even after the ticket guy told them no. The armed guard finally had to chill everyone out. Even though we were in southern Quito, it took half an hour or so just to clear the traffic and get on the highway. I was under the impression that the panamerican highway was quite fast and well-maintained, but that was true only at its best spots and even then the bus didn't go very fast. The 50 mile trip took over two hours! At several spots along the way, there were folks crowded on the side of the road trying to get on our bus, and even though our bus was completely full, the driver did stop once and let a group of three and a young lady get on. If I'd been one of the folks back at the terminal that didn't make it, and knew they'd done that, it would have pissed me off.

Anyways, we pulled into the Latacunga terminal, grabbed our luggage and headed towards the hostal, or at least where we thought the hostal was. We dragged our bag up the stairs, over the pedestrian bridge and back down again, then walked the 6 or 7 blocks to where Hostal Tiana was supposed to be, but all we found was a sign pointing up the street. We finally found another sign a block or two down and then located the hostal. Apparently, they had moved recently. Hostal Tiana is a fairly typical backpackers hostal, with free coffee, a kitchen, patio, and good information. We are splurging a bit this trip and mostly staying in double rooms with private bath. They run a bit more, for example it was $30 for our room here, but well worth it.

After stowing our gear and getting some information, we headed out to have a long overdue lunch, at about 3pm. The place the hostal lady recommended was back where we'd come from after the bus, but she swore they had the best chugchucaras in town. She said the place was called Chugchucaras Dona Rosita, but we went into the first place with a sign that said chugchucaras for $5 and are still not sure if it was the right place, but it was good. After the waitress described what came with one order, we opted to order just one, even though we were hungry. We were disappointed and didn't even quite finish it
Heladeria PalinHeladeria PalinHeladeria Palin

Where we had a great milkshake,.
all. Chugchucaras is a plate with fried pork rind, chunks of roast pork, potatoes, popcorn, mote (boiled hominy), empanadas, baked corn kernals, and fried plantain. Everything was quite good and went well together. Since this was a major meal (for us), we decided we'd buy some fresh fruit for later on. Since we were going into unfamiliar territory, we didn't take the camera, but we may just eat there after the loop, so we'll get some photos then.

We walked back to the hostal, then to the Banco Pichincha to use the ATM and get some money for our 5-day trek tomorrow around the Quilotoa Loop. Since the loop consists of nothing but tiny villages, there will be no ATMs along the way! After leaving the money in our room (they give you a padlock for your door), we strolled around and picked up some fruit for dinner at the local supermarket. On the way back to the hostal, we couldn't resist stopping in a heladeria (ice cream shop) for a great milkshake.

The rest of the evening was spent doing my blog and photos, eating our fruit, and watching a movie online with NetFlix. Tomorrow we leave
Sitting on the patio at Hostal TianaSitting on the patio at Hostal TianaSitting on the patio at Hostal Tiana

Manoli reading, with her blanket and me doing my blog.
for the Quilotoa Loop, returning here 5 days later to spend another night and pick up our luggage. Since we'll be doing a lot of hiking, we are only taking our backpacks with minimal clothing, toiletries, camera, and computer. I'll try to make these next blogs as exciting and full of photos as I can, so you folks following us can get a good idea of how much fun we'll be having. Until then, buenas noches from Latacunga, Ecuador.


22nd July 2012

I couldn't help noticing the sweaters. Does it get cold at night?
24th July 2012

In Latacunga it was only cold at night. Wait til you see the next blogs from Quilotoa and Chugchilan where we are now. Just now got internet connection.
23rd July 2012

We will be out of Internet range too, but in WV
Hey, John. I may be able to read your blog on 3G but not too sure. We are going to be in the wilds of West Virginia at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop. The Festival is referred to a just "Clifftop". We can get internet if we miss a bunch of music and walk a long way (for me) so won't do it often. Won't be able to follow your travels closely. Leaving Wed, the 25th. Back Aug 6, 7, maybe a couple days later. I know you will be having fun and seeing some incredible scenery.
24th July 2012

The wilds
Hey Juju, glad you're following along. Looks like you'll be having some fun too. Keep in touch.
28th August 2014

Terminal La Ofelia by local bus up to Carcelen Bus Station to get to Otavalo, Ibarra and Quitumbre Bus Station in the South for Latacunga
Terminal La Ofelia go through to other side you pay 25 cents, get the local blue bus . If I remember correctly two platforms across and on the second one turn to your right and go down last one with Carcelen Ato sign above it or just ask. I think it goes about every 15 minutes. Takes you to Carcelen bus station approx 15 mintues or so on bus. Hop of at the end, go through pass the ticket office, straight ahead to where you pay around 15/25 cents to go through, then to your right you will see buses for Otavalo, Ibarra etc turn left and walk down to the end, the one or two last places are buses for Quitumbre just jump on and pay on the bus, it is 45 minutes by bus. I think it was around $1 no more than that. The last time I went, you don't go to the ticket office to get a ticket at all. I was told just to go and wait for it and pay on it which I did after asking the locals there who were helpful and show me the way to the bus. Reading your blog now thanks for your information. Have been to Mindo, beautiful place zipline, walk to a couple of waterfalls, butterfly place etc but have not done the frog concert or chocolate place, next time.

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