Tradition in Transition

Trip Start Jun 12, 2011
Trip End Oct 22, 2012

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, July 13, 2012

We arrived in Quito after 3 long days on busses, only to find our hostel booking was for the wrong date, the rude staff were really unhelpful and at the same time a girl came in who had just been robbed so our first impressions weren't great. Despite ending up with a really nice room, our opinion didn’t really change but I think maybe if we had stayed in the old part of the city (we wanted to stay at Secret Garden but it was full) and not in La Mariscal, a modern but not necessarily safe area, our experience may have been different.

We spent some time doing Galapagos research and hit the travel agents so we knew what last minute deals and what boats were available.  We then did a speedy tour around the old city, climbing up the Basilica steps and also took the cable car up for a view of the city and the surrounding snow capped mountains.  We of course did the obligatory trip to the Mitadel de Mundo monument which is supposed to mark the equator.  We then visited the real equator which is next door and has been marked by GPS.  It was quite interesting to learn about the ancient beliefs about the centre of the world and they believed this was a mountain that isn’t far off the Equator, not bad for folks that didn’t have GPS in a time when some thought the world was flat.  We stood on each side of the equator to watch water go down the plug hole in different directions and did a few other fun games.  We also saw a shrunken head and learned how they used to make them as trophies, and avoided eating the spit roasted guinea pigs!

After Galapagos we flew back to Guayaquill and headed straight to the colonial Andean mountain town of Cuenca.  Cuenca is a world away from Quito, smaller, laid back and definitely has a mountain vibe about it.  It is here that the Panama hats are made, not in Panama despite the name.  The name came as many of the colonists in Panama wore the hat and so it was typical of that area, but they actually come from Ecuador.  Will of course bought himself a hat from a family who has been making them for years.  We found a lovely restaurant for a menu del dia lunch, strolled around the cathedral and the main square and visited the flower market. 

Unfortunately that was all of Ecuador we had time for. :(
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