24.03.2008 - 03.04.2008
Arriving in Ecuador I feel tonnes better already. The city is cleaner, looks and feels a lot less impoverished... with decent roads and new cars... unlike the bangers in Bolivia who would mill you down in a second if you stood in the road because there is no space left on the pavement due to street vendors!!!
Although, even though there is less beeping... the chopping lanes at a split second still occurs!!!
Quito, the capital is charming. A walk of the city reveals and amazing array of old buildings and churches... a lovely theatre square... to sit and take in the city over a couple of cuppucinos!
Climbing up past the bells of the Basicilica church... hold tight!!!
Seeing the city from above is also a spectacle... riding the cable car to the heights gives you a wonderful view of Quito. Walking beyond this further allows you to meet some very interesting people!
How many times in your life will you be stood on the side of a hill talking with 3 Ecuadorian lads, 2 Peruvian girls, two Priests and a priests dad??? Sounds like a joke right... but this one is without a punch line! It was a weird combination... but I relished in the opportunity to discuss life with them! (Well, I would never meet these people if I stayed wrapped up safely in my old life!)
Following that, I went to the middle of the Earth with the Ecuadorian lads...... a place called Mitad Del Mundo... a place where you can hop between the Northern and Southern hemisphere in a flash...
...and when the security team aren't looking... become part of the display in the museum!!
The next day, we had arranged to hire a car to visit North of Quito... only... it couldn't get through on account of the protests... since the protest scuppered our plans we joined in and marched with the Indigenous community to the presidents office at the Plaze Grande!
For good cause as well, I might add...over 15,000 people... chanting to get attention to the fact that it should be a "plurinational state" i.e. the indigenous want their customs, culture and language (Kichwa) to be officially recognised and taught too!
I wish them good luck in their cause... since Ecuador has had 8 presidents in the last decade... and that makes it pretty difficult to see through changes!!!
Otovalo & Why Trusting Strangers Can Be Good
I am not a big shopper, nor a fan of markets... but this one rocked out! The arts and craft here were amazing... as were the selection of wollens!
Ooh... a sample of some art work I have sent home if anyone was interested in buying some Ecuadorian art from me?
I arrived here with a local (Patricio), who I met when he was working at the hostel! Once we had exhausted the market and enjoyed a local cake and Coffee... he suggested that his friend could drive us to see the lake on top of the mountain and the waterfall at Cotocachi! So I risked it... with two virtual strangers... to the middle of nowhere...
and I am glad to day, these guys were no "Danny!"... my faith restored!... and we had a good time!
We even saw locals washing their clothes... in the stream...
I met Nick and Sophie on the way back from Otovalo... and we soon became friends... later that week hanging out in the park playing Frizbee and then off to Guysamin art gallery - which was awesome.
Cotopaxi National Park
After a few beers, I convinced Nick and Arran and Josiah to come with me to Cotopaxi park the next day... where we would bike and hike!!! So, the next day, we found a tour... set off... and had a interesting day!!
Over 3 hours, many car changes... some Chicharron e Pappas on route (Pork and spuds)... and we were at the park entrance... (perhaps 1 ish!) Although... there seemed to be some problems with letting us in!!!!
Apparently... someone in the van looked drunk! It wasn't funny since we'd gone all that way...but the series of events that unfolded were...
Nick gets out of the car... and the guards ask the boy to smell him to see if he was drunk.
Verdict. Apparently he is drunk!!! Hee hee
Despite long debates... going into the park with bikes was too dangerous for us in our current state... but we could go in and trek up to 4,800meters (a bloody hard level of altitude... through snow capped peaks!)
So we did... and built a snowman!!!
Josiah even got into the swing of it and sang us a song!!
Back outside of the park... we took the mountain bikes for a spin down to the main road... going through rivers... bumpy gravel roads... past cows.... it was all great... even when I managed to hit a bank/ pothole combination... and land on my head!!!
It was quite funny really... and I was of course thankful for the helmet!!!
It was all worth it for the view from the bikes...
End of My Time in Quito?
My time in Quito has drawn to an end...which I am gutted about... I still want to see Montanita and Guyaquil...may be I will do that if I come back to see the Galapagos!!!
Right now I should be heading to Chile and then NZ... but I have changed my plans!!! I have heard so many things about Colombia... and it seems so close, I just have to go! So, thats what I am doing... it will mean canning my Australian working Visa for now... and may be losing some time there or elsewhere... but I have a good feeling about risking that for a trip to Colombia....
Watch this space!!!
Plan changing, Quito liking, Mountain climbing snow man making Bees Out!