Some days are better than others
Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
92Trip End Aug 27, 2010
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We arrived at our Galapagos airport to the news that our flight would be delayed by two hours, and this of course subsequently turned into a four hour wait. It may not seem that long, but as I'm sure you can imagine, Baltra airport isn't teeming with entertainment opportunities.... quite a few souvenir stands, though almost identically stocked. But after the first hour or two and the sweltering heat, the wooden iguanas & stuffed boobies did become quite tempting (hey, can't pass up a perfectly good boobie quip).
We eventually completed our flight back to Quito only to discover that our pre-arranged transportation had given up and left, leaving us to find our own way to the hostel
On our last full day in Quito we decided to ride the Teleferiqo, the second highest gondola in the World, riding it from the edge of the city up the side of Pichincha Volcano to a height of 4200m. Much of the excitement of the ride was lost on the kids as it was "much slower than the gondola at Sunshine" (our regular ski resort). The views from the top were fantastic, looking out over the city of Quito.
Next stop (via local bus) was "Mitad del Mundo" or the "Middle of the World". Just to the north of Quito is a very large and splashy official monument marking the equator; resplendent marble with obligatory painted line running through the grounds to mark the equator. We stopped long enough for a quick lunch and to take the mandatory photos with a foot in either hemisphere. Just around the corner was XXXX, announcing the true 0'0'0" (as calculated using military GPS) and located just a few hundred metres to the north of the official monument... so we grudgingly paid our second entry fee for nominally the same attraction, but were pleasanty surprised as the locals did a much better job of entertaining the tourists than the Government version (so what's new!)
The next morning, while Derek worked, Sarah & kids ambled around the district of Mariscal, buying postcards, browsing through various bookstores (where we managed to trade in some of the books that we have finished for new books for the kids) and generally feeling quite comfortable and enjoying the city. Our warm and fuzzy feelings for Quito were to be short lived.....
After picking up Derek from the hostel we all set off to walk to the Trole (that's "trolley" not "ogre") bus stop to go to the old town. As we walked along the street in broad daylight, a well-dressed man started talking to Sarah in Spanish and gesturing at Sarah's pants. After a bemused interchange, we realised he was pointing out that there was something spilt on her pants!?! He then, very kindly and somewhat fortunately, produced a packet of napkins to help clean off what we now realized was mustard. Since there was an unfeasibly large squirt of the condiment up and down Sarah's rear he gestured that we should step to the side in the shade to clean up, maybe even into the lobby of a darkened building (we didn't think that part was a good idea). He then drew our attention to the mustard on Sarah's backpack and that she should remove it so that he could clean it
The bus to Otavalo was quite fascinating. As we drove through the outskirts of Quito, every time the bus stopped for passengers, for traffic congestion or for traffic lights, one or more vendors would hop onto the bus going up and down the aisle selling their wares and then hop off at the next stop. (When I say "sell" I mean repeat the name of the merchandise as loudly and many times per second as possible..
We arrived in Otavalo and were soon at our hostel - not the fanciest accommodation we've ever stayed in, but what it lacked in quality was made up for in the affability of Roberto the owner. We headed into town and found a restaurant where for $10 we got four bowls of soup, a large roast chicken, rice, fries and salad for 4 people! The surprise came when Lauren went fishing in her soup bowl, bringing up a whole severed chicken's foot. Good training for China!
Next morning was an early(ish) start, since the reason that we had come to Otavalo on a Saturday was to witness the livestock market which is only held from 7am-9am on Saturday mornings
After the excitement of the livestock market we perused the artisans market and felt good about our bargaining skills (isn't that the intent?) as we purchased a panama hat ($7 from $15) and an alpaca wrap ($5 from $9). Roberto kindly drove us to the bus terminal and after a quick lunch ($1.50) we were on our way back to Quito airport for our flight to Lima. Next update from the City of Kings....