Goin' Up....

Trip Start Sep 04, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  , Pichincha,
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Some of these bus journeys don't half test you mentally aswell as physically. To see a TV at the front really lifts your spirits.....but then when they put Anaconda 1 (which is tosh!), followed by Anaconda 2 AND THEN F@CKIN ANACONDA 3.....it's time to get off the thing!! We've watched 'Dinocroc v Supergator!', weird Spanish concerts, a film about a mental patient and even one about a boy who grows leaves on his legs!!.....All TERRIBLE!! Ace Ventura Pet Detective (in Spanish, with no subtitles) is the best we've had! (That's brilliant even in Spanish though!!).
Our flight from Sao Paulo to Lima was quickly followed by a bus straight to Guayaquil in Ecuador, where we sorted a Galapagos Island trip out for the 20th May. NOT CHEAP....and an 18.5%25 increase in the price for paying on a card was NEVER happening, so withdrawing all that money over a few goes and ferrying it back to our hostel was not something to savour - particularly as around these parts, 'cash machine theft' is apparently rife! All sorted though and looking forward to that. There wasn't much else to Guayaquil, so a bus to Quito was next up. FARCE!!! We didn't have long to get to the bus after buying the ticket, so when the woman pointed right, then got out of her seat and gestured 'over there, far away' we thought we had to rush. So we upped the pace, ran out the door - wrong way, ran back to check again and a different bloke said the same thing so we ended up charging over a bridge, Kala ahead with the two rucksacks and me TRUDGING behind with the big bags, SWEATING coz it was red hot.....wrong way AGAIN!! Where the hell is this platform!!!?? Nobody knew......then Kala spotted some buses going ABOVE where we'd bought the ticket......we went back inside, got ONE escalator up from practically where we'd bought the ticket and we were there! Jesus!! Why didn't the woman just point UP!!!! Aaaargh!!
So Ecuador....first thing to notice is that the bananas are HUGE here!! The route between Guayaquil and Quito climbed dramatically towards the end and we found ourselves at 2800m above sea level - the highest elevated capital city in the world. This just basically means that you can't walk anywhere without getting KNACKERED!! The streets of Quito's charming 'Old Town' aren't exactly flat either, a wander round the town becomes more of a hike!! Still, grand old churches and historical monuments are scattered everywhere, making it a pleasant place for such a wander. We're still getting ripped off aswell....as a 10 dollar taxi ride ended up costing us 15...!!
The next day we joined forces with a couple of Aussies and went to 'The MIDDLE OF THE EARTH!'......Or to put it in its simplest form, travelled nearly two hours on a bus to stand on a LINE!! (The line represented the equator, so we were able to hop between the northern and southern hemispheres). EXCEPT.....GPS has since determined the line is actually a couple of hundred feet out! So the equator was somewhere 'near' where we were ha ha!! Crap day! The only good thing was the very random 'INSECTARIUM' on site, where there were massive beetles and tarantulas to look at!
From Quito we did a two-day tour to a couple of attractions surrounding Quito. First up was a trek up another volcano, Cotopaxi, before coming back down it on mountain bikes - for 10km or so back to the car park. Cotopaxi is a MONSTER, and at 5,897m, is the second highest active volcano in the world. It looked pretty similar to the one we went up in Chile - Villarica. Our guide told us to sink LOADS of water beforehand to help with the altitude and it just made us need the bloody loo every 10 minutes! It probably helped though, but a routine uphill walk is made SOOOO much tougher at altitude.....my robot-ness went right out the window!! I was bolloxed!! We made it to the mountain hut (4864m) and then onto the foot of the glacier (5000m). That was enough for today! (Especially after I fell on the glacier!!). We turned back, to where we'd set off and got out the mountain bikes for the descent! I fell off that aswell!! I'd like to say that I was flyin down the track and came off at pace...........but I was just tottering, turned round to see where Kala was for a photo, my front wheel went in a ditch and I toppled over and cut all my hand!! Tart!!! Not my day!! The mountain biking itself was quality.....the bikes were up to it and you could fly down the route!! The van came down just after the slowest rider......I'm not mentioning any names as to who that was he he!!! An argument with the owner of our very posh overnight base (over a free meal!) took the gloss off a very decent day!!
Sunday saw us on a bit more a random day. It started with a bus ride to a typical Ecuadorian market, then to a very basic Ecuadorian house, where our guide presented the owner with a 'big shop' from the market. We then walked down, and back up Quilotoa Lake, formed inside another volcanic crater before we went back to eat chocolate cake in the foyer of our posh hotel that now really didn't like us! The lake was pretty special from up top. The walk up from the lake TO the top, after we'd walked down, was not!! Very hard!! Tour over.....not much sun but a top couple of days!
More 'bus misfortune' for me again......"Paul, just pass me the water from your bag".....so after I bent down to get it, why did the driver chose that moment to EMERGENCY STOP!! WHACK!! My head nearly went THROUGH the chair infront! No Kala, it WASN'T funny!! The bus was on its way to Banos. Banos is a place where you can get stuck into a few activities, so we had a crack at rafting and canyoning. Rafting was first. It absolutely leathered it down all morning which I suppose didn't matter, as we were gonna get soaked whatever. There were six in our boat - us two, two Germans, an Israeli and an Argentine, plus the guide. We belted along the river Pastaza for just over an hour in the rapids, which weren't ferocious enough to throw any of us out, but we're certainly enough to get the heart racing a bit! We had a swim in the river at one point which was good fun and very C.O.L.D!! Perhaps the only disappointment was that the three 'rescue kayak people' were showin off doing rolls and whatever else clever kayak people do, instead of takin any pics of us!!! Rubbish!!
The same cannot be said of the guide who took us canyoning in the afternoon. He took LOADS for us. Canyoning is basically abseiling down a waterfall. So abseiling down slippy rocks in the freezing cold!! The first two were quite small, while the second two were a lot bigger. We both had a couple of slips down the rocks. Kala was petrified but did a sterling job!! We must have been pretty slow, or he just REALLY wanted his tea, because on the fifth and final descent, rather than us abseiling down, he wired us up and said "just slide down!!" Oh.....ok. After I'd got halfway, got dunked and then cracked my coccyx and elbows on the rocks, I thought.....she ain't gonna like that!! We both survived it though!!
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SheilaG on

This blog made me laugh Paul. It sounds like you've been in the wars a bit - you poor thing...lol. Loved all the photos.

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