Down from the Mountains

Trip Start Jan 19, 2012
Trip End Feb 03, 2012

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Sunday, January 29, 2012

7AM departure today for Guayaquil. We rise to 13,500 ft at the Cajas National Park before descending to sea level in Guayaquil. Pit stop at a roadside shop engulfed in misty clouds. We pause at the highest point for photo op. I hop out of course. It's quite brisk; I'm glad to have my sweater on.

We finally descend out of the mountains to a new world: ferns, cocoa and banana plants, and Brahma cattle. We come face to face with one herd and accompanying cowboys using the road. Yee haw!

We stop at the Jambil plantation for a lecture while walking through the banana and cocoa fields. The temperature is now quite high as is the humidity. We haven't felt this warm since the rain forest. And of course there are the mosquitoes! We slather on our favorite lotions for the walk.

They also have a wildlife restoration service with spider monkeys, tortoises, macaws, and a spectacle bear. Some will never be returned to the wild due to injuries from their former owners. I get to see my first Galapagos tortoise! Then our hosts prepare a delicious lunch for us of traditional foods and of course bananas.

On the road again and most of us nod out. We finally arrive at our hotel mid-afternoon. The hotel and my room are freezing with the air conditioning. My first task is to figure out how to adjust it. Lacking that, I finally just turn it off. We have over an hour to relax and clean up. I spend my time dividing my luggage in two much like for the trip to Sacha. Then I grab my raincoat and head out.

We have a local guide named Eduardo ("Call me Eddie") leading a tour of the city. We take our bus to some locations and then do some walking. The iguana park is very entertaining. We head down to the Malecon. A beautiful park that runs along the side of the river. The clouds finally fulfill their threat and it begins to lightly sprinkle, which turns into a real downpour. My raincoat is on the bus! We try to wait it out a bit under a tree, but then give up and our driver Eduardo comes with the bus to rescue us. We're a little early yet for dinner, which is at an open restaurant in the garden area of the Malecon. Some opt to go to the restaurant and wait while 4 of us traipse after Eddie (raincoats on or umbrellas in hand- or both) for a walk to the area of the old town at the end of the Malecon. It's quite lovely in the rain with twilight falling and lights beginning to glow. I'm pretty soaked when we finally make it to the restaurant.

Back to the hotel. Gonzalo has confirmed that a local guide, Fernando, will accompany me, Edie and Juanita to the airport at 7 the next morning. We three are the only ones going on to the Galapagos. The rest of us say our goodbyes in the lobby. I finalize my packing, process some photos and head to bed. I can't believe this leg of the tour is over!
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