One night in Cuenca and the world smiles oysters

Trip Start Mar 29, 2010
Trip End Sep 01, 2010

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Flag of Ecuador  , Pichincha,
Friday, June 4, 2010

   After saying goodbye to Colombia with a nice 12 hour bus journey... we had arrived in the country of Ecuador, fully intent on showing them what we are made of! 
First stop, the capital of course, Quito! On the backpacker trail we had heard quite a few comments from fellow travelers concerning the dangers of Quito. Lots of robbing going on. Well we weren't about to give up our perfect record of not getting robbed easily. So with S.L.R. in hand we went out to discover the city! Old towns, big statues on top of hills, old ladies telling us to not walk down street for fear of robbers, and a gondola to the top of the mountains surrounding Quito(photos below cover all of this)... this place was alright! Once above the city, +4000M, we were met with stunning views of the city and the three surrounding volcanoes. Only problem was that breathing is a major problem at 4000m for out of shape, un-acclimatized backpackers! After a brief walk and photo shoot, we headed back to lower ground to check out Quito's nightlife. It was good. Thumbs up all round...

Next stop on the tour was the spa town of Banos. About 8 months ago I was using maps of this far off place in my digital mapping course. The instructor was using them because he had been there and loved the place. Never would I have guessed I would be there in 8 months time! There was one little problem with traveling to Banos though. The volcano looking over the town was extremely active. Locals in Quito thought we were a bit crazy visiting there. The town on the other side of the volcano had already been evacuated. For the record we emailed an American owned hotel in Banos, he gave us the all clear! So with that secure advice, we headed off!!

On the bus ride in we had a clear view of the peak of the volcano, it was definitely active! Ash was pouring out the top like a volcano in heat. Banos was a beautiful town, surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and active volcanoes! Its temperature was perfect, it felt like Vancouver in spring.(I realize Vancouver is best in Summer, but after 3 months in intense heat, this was perfect).
Our first night in Banos we went out to the local bar street to have a beer with some American friends of ours. We were pretty much the only ones on the street. Turns out active volcanoes don't attract tourists... Oh Oh, speaking of volcanoes, every once in a while the town would shake, and loud explosions  could be heard. Neat-O!! Oh Oh, last time the volcano got bad like this almost was(1991), the town was totally evacuated for 6 months.
Ok, enough volcano talk. Next up, insane waterfalls! One in particular, "El Pailon Del Diablo" a.k.a. the devils bowl. Nobody had heard of it, just saw it on a map. So we biked 20km, walked another km, and we had arrived. Looked cool from a distance, then the local guy at the restaurant told us we could pay a dollar and go close, so we humed and hawed, gave in, and gave him a buck. Un-real, it was so powerful this day apparently, we were able to climb through a tunnel in the mountain and suddenly we were near the top, right next to the power it was producing, completely soaked ( ** See video, in pictures below ** ). So fun!

After that fun, it was time to hit the beach, so we headed to the coastal town of Montanita. Famous for its surfing and fiestas, it sounded like a good spot. Not too much to speak of in Montanita...the surf was Okay, and we were there during the week, so the fiestas were rather dull. A few memories include... the hundreds of birds on the power lines at night, they were everywhere, all lined up in a row for blocks. Needless to say they poo, so the smell got to Lauren a bit. We went whale watching on our last day, that was amazing. After two hours searching for humback whales believed to be in the area, I saw this humpback breach(jump) out of the water from about a kilometer away. Everyone else was looking the other way while I screamed with shock and awe! We had found them, and for the next hour or so we followed them up close, very cool.

Our next and final spot was a significant spot on our trip so far. Cuenca would be the town that we (Myself, Lauren, and Niclas(our Swedish friend) would start our new business!! Bananas... we are going to import bananas to Canada and Sweden for a big profit!!.....
Just kidding!! Hats, we have started our own little hat business with the hats being made in Cuenca. These hats are already somewhat famous, Panama Hats (made in Ecuador by the way). But we aren't going to sell the typical Panama hat (  ). Ours are, for the most part, much more colorful, all one of a kind, and all hand made! We have bought 50 to start with (25 to Canada, 25 to Sweden) and will figure out how to sell them when we get back. Stay tuned! Lauren's current hat can be seen being made in the pictures below. Final product is fedora'ish. So other than starting a company we didn't get up to much in Cuenca. We did meet some good friends from Canada, Holland, and Colombia though.

And that was Ecuador for us!! Had a great time, exceeded expectations which is always nice!!

Next up.... Peru!

xo Dave and Lauren

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