Ecuaaaaador (in an Sash stylee)‏

Trip Start Oct 16, 2013
Trip End Mar 09, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, November 8, 2013

Shame I canīt get this song out of my head!!!

Day 23: 8 November 2013

Today we said goodbye to Panama and headed to the airport for our flight to Quito. On the way into the airport I was stopped by an American who started quoting the bible to me. I was a bit unsure as to where he was going with this but apparently when he sees backpackers it reminds him of this passage as he always wanders what they are searching for. My answer to this question was something different. Maybe not what he expected but that is why I wanted to take this trip to see new places, experience new things and find out more about different cultures. So far we have seen part of Central America and as we are moving into South America now I am keen to see how it compares to what we have seen so far.

After some googling to find exactly where our hostel as the taxi driver didn't know we checked in and headed out to get some food. It turns out we were right between the old town and the Mariscal area where the nightlife is so we were pretty central. After all of the fast food in Panama we were keen to try something typically Ecuadorian for dinner. We found a restaurant and ordered some humita and tamals (parcels filled with cheese, corn and vegetables wrapped in leaves) and locra de papas (potato, cheese and avocado soup) which we washed down with an Ecuadorian Club beer.

Day 24: 9 November 2013

Today we headed to the craft market in Otavalo, a small town 2 hrs north of Quito. We were told to be at the bus station at 7.30ish as it gets busy after. We didn't realise that it would take so long to get to the bus station as we had to take 3 different buses. There was quite a few people there by the time we arrived so we had to queue for a bit to get tickets for the next bus. Arriving in Otavalo was like stepping back in time! All of the locals were in traditional dress, carrying their children in pouches on their backs and there were makeshift stalls everywhere selling anything from fruit to chilenos (small maiz balls) to shaved ice to maggots to coca leaves to mystery meat and fish to juices. And this was before we reached the market! There was lots of crafts and jewellery... I could have spent a fortune but was conscious there wasn't much space in my rucksack plus given my track record I will probably just loose it anyway! We were both feeling a bit rough after the bus because of the altitude so we bought some caramelos de coca and some coca leaves to help.

We checked out the main square (which had free wifi and even electrical sockets!) and church (where an eldrerly couple were getting married) and then headed back to the bus station. The bus back was showing a movie but I spent most of the time looking out the window as the scenery was so impressive! Mountains, lakes, rivers. When I did start paying attention again I realised another tourist had been robbed as he left his bag under his seat. I felt sorry for him but there are warnings everywhere not to put your bags out of sight.

Back in Quito we headed to the old town for a wander around the colonial centre. It was the first place to be declared a UNESCO world heritage sight and there are lots of nice churches, buildings and squares. The Campania de Jesus is the most ornate and in La Mered there is a possessed tower that noone has been in since 1870 when the previous bellwringer died. As there was a service at the Basilica when we were passing we went inside for a bit before getting a bus to Mariscal again for dinner. We had a nice meal in a cute cafe where people had written all over the walls then headed to a nearby bar for some wine. Again we needed a beer break as have been drinking too much recently!

Day 25: 10 November 2013

Quito -> Banos

Feeling a little worse for wear this morning  we headed to see the rest of the old town and to find the cathdral which we were close to at points yesterday but didn't manage to find! As it was Sunday there was mass in most of the churches so they were open for the services. I have never been to Catholic mass before but saw part of 3 today! Including one by the Archbishop of Quito in the cathedral. We hung around after the service to see the painting of Jesus and his disciples eating guinea pig and humitas. There is another where there is a llama peeing on Jesus! Outside the cathedral there were people dancing and music and the city felt more alive today than it did yesterday... Maybe because the sun is out now :) I realised that this was what I missed in Panama. Costa Rica was really colourful and fun in most places in Panama there wasn't really much atmosphere... or maybe we just picked the wrong time of year to visit!

We walked back to the hotel to pick up our stuff (minus my snack bag which I think I dropped earlier with the coffee I bought in the plantation in Panama) and head to the bus station to get the bus to Banos. We had the chattiest taxi driver EVER which was nice as we learnt a lot about Quito (its 7.5 km long and 50 km wide... that explains why it takes so long to get anywhere!) and the new government (less corrupt) and the ecuadorian people (not materialistic) and things to look out for in Banos (jugo de cana).

After buying our tickets Anna remembered she wanted to go to Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world). We looked into how to get there and decided it was best to change our tickets to get a later bus and jump in a taxi and see it now rather than coming back up to Quito later. We did a deal with the taxi driver outside the station and were soon on our way with his wife and son tagging along for the ride. Think as it was Sunday they wanted to spend the day together. Aw.

We did the usual touristy poses on the equator line and then grabbed something to eat before heading back. We found an old lady selling cevichoco (a mix of popcorn, roasted corn, beans like habas and yuca chips with ceviche sauce) which was yum and another with freshly made cheese empanadas. We spent less than $1.50 which is the total opposite of tourist attractions back home where the food is overpriced and not very good!

As we had a bit of a wait before the next bus we found somewhere to stay in Banos and had some dinner and our first local Pilsener beer in the station food court... even though it was a Sunday and technically they shouldn't sell any alcohol ;)

The bus (3.5 hrs) was boring as it was dark and we couldn't see anything. We jumped in a taxi when we arrived and went to bed ready to explore tomorrow morning.
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