We arrived safely after a rather gruelling flight. A twelve hour flight with no entertainment, we had to resort to talking to each other! Oh God!
The hostel (secret garden) is really high up with a great view over the city. We have found the alltitude difficult, and spent today wondering around the old city like an elderly couple. Its surprising how crappy it makes you feel. We embarked on our first spanish lesson this morning, and have been practising all day, but we feel like we are making little head way! Its hard for people with memories like fish!
Quito is really beautiful, with a real spanish feel. We were surprised to hear it stretches 55km along the valley, so still lots of exploring to be done!
Went to the new town, which wasn´t overly impressive but the walk there through a couple of parks was nice. We were able to get a nice panoramic view of the city from el panecillo, a hill in the centre of town. Second spanish lesson down, so we felt brave enough to eat local. A lot of miss understanding, and many hand gestures, but we were able to eat so all was good!
A national park south of Quito. We stayed in a lodge, which was really cosy, with log fires, a hot tub, and a communal dinning table for all guests to eat together, a real home from home! Rick climbed to the glacier on Cotopaxi volcano the highest active volcano in the world. The altitude made him feel rough, but he did get to clamber in the snow. His highlight was cycling rather fast back down! I took the more serene option and went horse riding on one of the extinct volcaones in the park, the views were amazing and the ride was great fun. Unfortunately very cold and wet towards the end.
It was nice to chill out for a few days.
Thee Ecuadorian holiday hotspot. A small town in another volcanic valley. We did a walk to a high peak for amazing views. On the second day we cycled to various waterfalls, on the route we also went across the canyon in a cable car. The highlight was doing a bridge swing, a real adrenaline rush! Its a similar idea to a bungee, but your attached at your waist, you simply jump off and swing! We soaked our aching muscles in the thermal baths in the evening. The hotest was 38 degrees!
Stopped over at Riobamba a city on the way south, then went to Saliñas; a remote mountain village where there is a cooperative, producing chocolate, cheese and wool products, oh and bizzarely footballs! Was really good to sample the products (mmmm...yummy!), see the cooperative working really well for the village, and the villagers were really friendly!
The highlight was the evening meal. We went in search of a restaurant open. There was a local eatery with lights on and a sign on the door, when we entered we realised it was actually a cards den, the men playing all turned to look. They were really friendly though, they seated us and called the owner to cook us some food. We had no idea what we were getting, it turned out to be chicken, chips and rice (the usual set meal). We waited for the food watching and chatting to the card players, then suddenly the all got up and darted off in different directions. We couldn´t understand why until a police officer came in for food, it was so funny. We were left to eat on our own with the copper!
Took a day of travelling to get here, the third largest and most beautiful city in Ecuador. Spent the day wondering the cobbled streets, looking at the many churches and colonial buildings. Couldn´t avoid the rain despite the endless eating in cafes (rain = excuse to do so!). We went to the birth place of the Panama hat, where they are still in production today. There is a small museum there too, a tour in spanish tested mine and Ariannes spanish (rick just did his famous ´í have no idea face`). It was alot of fun at the market trying to get bits to cook for dinner, trying our spannish and surprisingly getting what we asked for. The start of easter celebrations meant the city was alive with people in the evening going to service, and it was great to be out amoungst it. We tried ale brewed in a local micro brewery but were highly disappointed, far to fizzy and sweet.
Arrived on Goodfriday, nothing was open, it was really like a ghost town. The next day we did a trek in the Parque Nacional Podocarpus. We set off on the 5 km loop from the rangers station. 5km you would think would be easy. However the first two kilometres were up hill on very rough terrain. The landscape changed from lush forest to scrub land to moorland back to forest. The weather also changed from glorious sunshine to freezing winds and thick cloud at the top. Although the difficult climb to the top reaching 3500m, the views after we descended out of the clouds was amazing, across the top of the mountains. We ate our lunch in the clouds, which was a true trip highlight so far! Once we had got back to the ranger station we then had another 9km walk back to the road to flag a passing bus, luckily there was one. For the last real night in Ecuador and our last with Arianne we did the usual and ate too much.