Blogs from Ecuador, South America - page 3

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South America » Ecuador » Centre » Chimborazo February 20th 2020

Today was a first for me (Jan) when I was heard to pronounce that going up was easier than going down…...sounds a bit unlikely? Unlikely but true! Today was funny old day…..We left our hostel at 0630hrs in a cross country vehicle with 9 bikes on its roof and 8 people in the car- 2 Brazilian geologists (very useful when on a volcano), 2 Dutch youngsters, us, a driver and a guide. Our goal was Mount Chimborazo, which is the point on the earth that is nearest to the sun. It's not as tall as Everest at 6263m but because of the Equatorial bulge, it's actually furthest away from the centre of the earth and therefore nearest to the sun! Well we weren't trying to climb to the top (thank goodness) but we were dropped at ... read more
Before we started....look at those intermediate smiles
The top of Chimborazo in the clouds
The END of the day...why am I leaning backwards?

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa February 17th 2020

The final push.Today was the day when we were either going to conquer the Quilotoa Loop or it was going to conquer us. Even chances, slightly weighted towards victory to the mountain if you were a betting man. We were on our way by 0800hrs with 980m to climb before we reached the marvellous spectacle that is the Quilotoa crater….an ancient volcano that lost its top in an explosion of massive proportions, leaving a crater that is 250m deep and filled with greeny blue water. We had seen photos and it did look amazing. But first there was the small matter of getting up there. The first hour and a half was spent on a descent into a river valley through beautiful farmlands where every inch was cultivated no matter how steep the slope. We promise ... read more
Our ploughing champion
We made it to the crater's edge
How beautiful is that?

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Quilotoa February 16th 2020

Our move to the Quilota Loop didn’t start well, when the taxi that was meant to take us to the correct bit of the hard shoulder of the Pan American highway for the Latacunga bus, failed to arrive. We leapt on the local bus and sped down the hill to the town of Otavalo where we jumped into a taxi and arrived at the aforementioned hard shoulder spot in time to wait for an hour and and half until we could get onto the right bus. (There was an earlier bus and we had got there first but there was no point arguing with a group of Ecuadorians who felt they had a right to get on the bus rather than us.) Luckily we were able to leave our stuff that we didn't need for the ... read more
We had to get the other side of the valley by bed-time....
Contract lawn mowers, arriving at supper time
Dodgy or what?

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo February 11th 2020

Our first 2 days in Ecuador were spent at a great hostel in Quito (Hostel Revolution) getting used to the altitude and finding the central market for supplies and lunch. We decided not to have the potatoes and leather or the leather and booklet! We learned that the bus system of Quito takes a bit of getting used to….we were warned to keep each other and our other valuables closely guarded which seemed ok until we finally, after a couple of false starts due to nerves, managed to barge our way onto the bus which was soooo crowded that you had to literally throw yourself off the approach ramp which are built into the bus stops and onto the bus before the doors shut. At one point I (Jan) was on the bus but the doors ... read more
Lunch at 4000m overlooking Las Lagunas de Mojandas
Scrambling? I don't think so....

South America » Ecuador » East » Misahualli January 30th 2020

Throughout this last week, we’ve been in and out of different parts of the Amazon rainforest and the highlands of Ecuador. One common thing that I’ve noticed on the side of the road is a type of sign that says something along the lines of “Water is life, don’t contaminate it” (written in Spanish, clearly). In the United States, I may have seen billboards that say something like this, put up by private organizations or nonprofits, but it’s very rare to see a sign like this put out by the government. The closest thing we have to this are the signs that state a fine for littering. I found this interesting for a few reasons. The first is that the Ecuadorian government is putting more time into making sure that the environment is protected, which I ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 30th 2020

Looking back at my experience in Ecuador as a whole, one of the things that stands out to me the most is the hospitality we experienced. Obviously the first brush we had with hospitality here was with our host families in Quito. They treated us just like their own children. They took time to ask how we enjoyed our day and we spent a lot of time at meals just learning about each other and just being present together. It will be a long time before I forget how it felt to sit down to dinner with some bread and cheese, laughing and joking. They even offered their house for the future if either Matt or I come back to Ecuador. Their openness and acceptance made it so fun to be a part of Quito for ... read more
A Welcoming Environment

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Baños January 25th 2020

Today we spent the whole day in Baños, which was a really fun experience. After spending the last two weeks in one location, it was nice to take a break and have some freedom to explore a new environment. This morning, five of us hiked up a mountain 2000 ft. to overlook the city. It was definitely a bit more than we bargained for, and we ended up going nine miles by the end of the hike, but it was really fun to bond within our group and to hike in the jungle. In the afternoon, the entire class went on a bus tour of various waterfalls and we hiked down to one waterfall called ‘El Diablo.’ I’ve hiked to several large waterfalls in my life, and just like all the others, this one was unique ... read more

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito January 23rd 2020

Today was one of the most whirlwind days that I think I’ve ever had, full of such different experiences. I woke up early and went to a group salsa/fitness class and ended up being called to the front to help lead. Then Matt and I went to the botanical gardens nearby and saw a really cool bonsai garden. I had some Ecuadorian ceviche and fried squid for lunch. And finally, we went to a chocolate tasting session at Pacari chocolates. It was definitely one of my best days on the trip so far. I want to talk a little more about Pacari chocolate, somewhat because I like chocolate, but also because I really appreciate their business model and I think it fits a very Ecuadorian mindset. They are less than 20 years old, but have already ... read more
Us Messiah People and Our Dance Instructor

South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 19th 2020

Because we spent so much time in Otavalo, I decided that I had more things to talk about. Aside from their absolutely fantastic peanut ice cream and empanadas (both of which cost a dollar), there were some fantastic deals to be had in the market in Otavalo. One thing that's very different than I'm used to, though, was the way that they expected you to barter with them. In the U.S, one of the most aggravating things for me as a consumer is when prices aren't listed, since I like to take a little time to think about the cost without the seller being involved. As you might expect, the fact that no one in Otavalo listed prices, combined with the fact that they wanted you to make decisions on the spot was a little worrying ... read more
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South America » Ecuador » North » Otavalo January 18th 2020

I very much enjoyed the time we spent as a group in Otavalo. It was fantastic to be able to see such a different way of life, and only an hour or so from Quito. By far though, my favorite part of the excursion was being able to relate to them in our interactions. In general, at the various stands I purchased items at, I could tell that they knew I was from either Europe or the U.S. At one stand in particular, I struck up a conversation after my purchase of a Quena (a flute/recorder hybrid instrument), and he asked me where I was from, inferring that he knew I wasn't from around here. He was very kind though, he complemented my Spanish speaking and I'm sure he talked a little slower so that I ... read more
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