Imbabura Province

Trip Start Apr 03, 2008
Trip End Apr 27, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  , Imbabura,
Sunday, April 27, 2008

It felt like home to be at the Mercur, flaws and all.  OK, it is a little different than home; brush your teeth with bottled water, don't flush toilet paper and don't be surprised when things like phones and door locks don't work - oh, and no climate control; air or heat.  But it is clean, spacious, has great beds and an excellent breakfast buffet.

We were out the door at 7:30 this morning for a day trip to Imbabura province.  The Amazing Tania was there to introduce us to our guide, Santiago.  We also had a driver, Jesus.  He didn't speak English but Santiago's was excellent.  We had spent some big bucks on this tour, Imbabura Trails, about $300, so I was relieved that the altitude combined with getting my land legs was manageable.  We were out for eleven hours, enjoyed hiking and lots of neat sites, and picked Santiago's brain about Ecuador's history, social climate, political situation and lifestyles.  For instance, outside of the big cities, it is very common to see women (in classic Andean clothes) pushing the laundry in wheel barrows and washing it in the river or aqueducts.  In Quito middle and upper class people have washing machines, not driers, and rarely dish washers.  The min. wage is $200/mo.  If that's a 40 hour work week it would be around $1.15/hr.

Anyhow, about the day, our first stop was what I would call a convenience store about 1 1/2 hours North of Quito on the Pan-American highway.  I bought a Panama Hat (miss-named - they are Ecuadorian) for my dad and then we went down the valley to the Otovalo market.  It's a great big outdoor vendor market of textiles, crafts and some basic supplies for locals, as well as lots of yummy smelling food we couldn't eat.

We stayed there for about a 1/2 hour and finished up some gift buying for dear friends, like a creepy green devil mask for Eggerdings and 15 thread bracelets for students.  Next stop was hiking around a crater lake.  It was beautiful and felt great!  We didn't cover much ground - about 2 km, but were at 11,000 ft and ascended about a km.  I was really pleased that the altitude didn't knock me flat.

Then we drove through pretty little towns, past rose nurseries and farms to a very nice restaurant, Hosteria, La Casa de Hacienda.  Good food, great atmosphere and Simon and Agnes showed up from their day trip also.  Next was a drive to a waterfall park nestled in a Eucalyptus forest.  The waterfall was no Snoqualmie, but the forest was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen and smelled amazing!

Back in the van, our driver took us through San Pablo to an equator marker which was surprisingly cool.  It was a massive sundial with a 30 foot cylinder in the middle to catch the noon light.  This was not the big monument you see in the media, because we were on a less traveled road.  But it was staffed by a volunteer who was deeply passionate about the equator.  We bought a world map from him that shows the world the "right" way; East on top, West on the bottom.  It meant more of the continents were on the left, which sounds really good to me.

That was the last stop before a long drive back to the hotel.  We cleaned up and met Richard and Ross for dinner.  Margaret was sick the whole day so we gave her some of our Cepro pills.  I really hope it worked.

That was the end of our trip!  The next morning we left for the airport at 3:30 AM.  The Amazing Tania took us.  Twelve hours later we were with the kids, my parents and the cats in Bellevue.

Thank you so much for reading the blog; especially those of you who made it to the end!  It has been a pleasure to create it, but even more of a pleasure to know that people are learning from it.  In just the first two weeks it has had 525 hits!  Please leave your comments - I'd love to know what you are thinking!  Sincerely and gratefully, Nancy
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surtrek on

it so beautiful location ang beautiful pictures.

Kay on

Really appreciated the honesty, the joys and the annoyances, of the trip. We're planning to go in April, and it's good to have a feel for things. Travel companies don't always give you the real spiel :).

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