South over the Andes
Trip Start Nov 13, 2010
91Trip End Jul 20, 2011
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Made our way to the Guesthouse in Guayaquil where we had stayed a few weeks prior. There we met my Dutch friend Andrea who had arrived in Quito about a week earlier. We stayed the night and caught a mini bus ($12) for the 3 hour journey south to Cuenca.
Carolyn was able to finalize all her flights to Brazil before we left for the islands and she only had a day and a half to spend in Cuenca before having to get back to Guayaquil to catch her flight out. We had heard great things about Cuenca and she really wanted to see it, even if it was just going to be a really quick look and see. The minibus saved us a couple of hours over the regular bus and allowed the luxury we had become accustomed to! Easy to get soft while cruising!!!!.
The drive, up and thru the Andes, was beautiful.
We saw Llamas grazing and lots of really expensive looking dude ranches, acreages and tidy small mountain towns along the way. About 60 km outside of Cuenca we entered Cajas National Park. Very beautiful and renowned by birders. of course with our very recent Galapagos bird experience, we were able to yell 'bird' more easily than we had the week before.
Arriving in Cueunca around 3 pm, we checked in and the three of us headed out on the town - Saturday and then Saturday night in the big city.. First impressions confirmed what we had heard - it really is a beautiful colonial city. Clean, organized, booming, as is most of Ecuador, and really very walkable. But cold. The nights are quite chilly - we are in the Andes, and even more chilly for us considering the sweltering heat we had just left in the Galapagos. Daytime is perfect - bright blue sky and warm from 10 to 4, night is cold and there is no heating. Deja vu to Mexico!!!!
Sunday morning Carolyn and I took the local bus up to a couple of villages where we heard they had Sunday markets.
Sunday morning we decided to take the local bus to some nearby villages where they had Sunday markets.
Carolyn and I meet the nicest people on the bus and Sunday was the same. Of course we standout - especially Carolyn because the Ecuadorians are all around 5 foot 3 or 4.....I'm normal here!!!! OK, that might be stretching it!
We had no idea where to get off so I kept showing my little piece of paper ( like in China) to people and wait to be adopted. Sure enough an older man with a .little English (he had worked in New York) adopted us and our 'problem to be solved' and made sure we got off the bus and on to the next one without any problems.
All in all a great day.
Monday morning Carolyn packed up and started her travel day from hell. 24 hours straight travelling. 3 hours back to Guayaquil through the mountains, wait for her flight to Lima, Peru. Fly to Lima, 3 hour layover, fly to Rio, 5 hour layover, fly to Brasilia and start her pampered, live by the pool with staff peeling her grapes and spritzing cool water. She has had many Rotary exchange students over the years and is going to the home of her student from last year - Marco, who lives in Brasilia, Brazil. He is an amazing young man and his mom is also really really nice. Marco spent the year going to high school in Calgary so mom came back and forth a few times. They have a house with a pool and staff so Carolyn will be well looked after.. She needs the rest so it will be good - she wants to spend a lot more time travelling in the near future. Work - it does seem to get in the way often!. I was going to join her in Brazil but it was so difficult to arrange the visa for Brazil that I gave up. The restrictions Brazil has put on their visas if you do it from your home country is more arduous than any of the other many visas I have acquired. Now I hear it is really easy to get one from the Brazilian embassy In Peru....maybe????? I do like grapes and pools!!!.
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