Trip Start Dec 08, 2004
Trip End Dec 07, 2005

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Not wanting to spend hours in an internet cafe, sadly im gonna keep this one short and sum up our time in Ecuador in one post.

It started with an excellent long weekend spent with Rowena in the market town of Otavalo:

* Walking around a beautiful volcanic crater lakes with Rowena and other volunteers.

* Trapsing the streets and plazas of the never ending Otavalo Saturday market, desperately fighting the urge to buy EVERYTHING!

* A visit to a nearby village and lake at which we ended up being offered a shot of home made sugar cane licour and invited to join a trail of people walking to the next village to celebrate Inti Raymi Festival. (lots of dancing round in circles in masks to repetative guitar music and getting very drunk) We were the only Gringos there. Excellent fun!

* Watching the chaos of old ladies being dragged around in the mud by pig-headed pigs on ropes at the animal market.

* And drinking lots of beer and deliciously cheap apple wine, yum yum.

We sadly said good bye to Rowena again and went south to Quito for a day, visiting the fake equator.

There is a Middle of The World theme park devoted to the equator complete with a statue and a big line which is actually 200m out! A lesser hyped and tiny musuem down the road is actually GPS 0.000 correct where you can do the water down the drain experiment and balance an egg on a nail. I was the only person who managed to do it and I have a certificate to prove it, I am very proud.

Over the next week we:

* Stopped off in Latacunga to go to the famous Thursday morning Indian market in a nearby village of Saquisili. The whole village becomes a market, with giant plazas each devoted tova different product ie animals (sacks and sacks of Guinea-Pigs), fruit-veg and clothes ect. It was HUGE!

* visted Baņos (meaning toilet or baths in Spanish) a tourist town famous for its hot springs where we went mountain biking for a day to lots of waterfalls, took a ride in shopping basket cable car thingy over a huge gorge and waterfall and ate chicken foot soup. We decided to opt out of a visit to the thermal baths when we saw the crowds cuing to get in at the entrance. The idea of sharing a bath with hundreds of sweaty people didnīt appeal.

* Took a roof top train ride down a remaining stretch of Ecuadors rail way for Rio Bamba to Alausi called the devils nose.

* Chilled out in the lovely colonial City of Cuenca with a night out at the cinema to watch Batman. From there we ttok a short bus ride out of town to a tiny village on the outskirts also called Baņos with thermal baths. This time there were only a handful of other people, much better. We also managed to sneak up the church bell tower for a few of the village. It was a really old rickety wooden staircase and I nearly got stuck up there unable to move with an attack of vertigo and Keith nearly got his head taken off by a huge and particularly territorial owl.

* A brief stop over in Loja in an unsuccesful hunt of Cuy (Guinea pig) for dinner.

* And then on to the beautiful village of Vilcabamba set in a valley basin surounded by stunning mountains. Vilcabamba is a real chill out place so we thought weīd reward ourselves after a few weeks in $4 a night rooms and upgrade. We stayed in a beautiful hostel. Our own cabin had a garden and views over looking the whole valley. We also treated ourselves to a back massage and reiki treatment. Just what the doctor ordered.
Vilcabamba is also becoming famous for its locally produced hallucinagenic cactus juice called San Pedrillo, its side effects are so damaging they have been medically named as a condition called Vilcabamba Syndrome. Suprisingly we didnīt sample any, im mad enough.

Tearing ourselves away from heaven and back to the reality of ridiculously long and painful bus travel we headed 170km south to Chachapoyas in Peru. The journey only took us 2 days!
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