Trip Start Jan 22, 2006
Trip End Jun 23, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Wednesday, May 31, 2006

When I got into town I headed to straight to the Secret Garden, that was recommended by a girl from Otavalo. The place was very bright and colorful with a very relaxed feel and a great view of old town Quito. I met a French girl named Marie and the two of us when on a hostel recommended walking tour around the old town. The first stop was the Basilica, that had stairs and ladders taking you up to the top of all the tall towers. Every time we would get to a new level we were surprised by another ladder leading higher up. The views were spectacular. We then walked all around the town and through all the great plazas and Cathedrals. The most impressive was La Compaņia de Jesús in which the entire interior was gilded and covered with gold. However, because mass was about to start we could only look for a minute. We ended up walking around for over 3 hours... it was a nice introduction to the city. I then rested and read before it was time for dinner. The hostel is so cool, every night they cook a huge dinner and set the table us in order to have a big family dinner. It is a great way to meet everyone else and make friends. I met an Australian girl named Kate and we made plans to head out to the Media del Mundo the next day. Following dinner they showed a movie called I Love Hucklebees. It was so funny! Everyone should go out and watch it, if you haven't already. It was just so bazaar, I couldn't stop laughing.

Since I am lucky enough to have one of those colds that keeps you awake with coughing fits all night, I didn't get much sleep. However, I did have a nice sleep in and barely made it upstairs in time for breakfast. Kate was up there too and informed me that there was a lot more interesting stuff out at the Media del Mundo than we first thought. So we put it off until the next day. Which was nice and gave me time to catch up with all the latest Hollywood drama in US Weekly. As you can see it was not a very exciting day. Oh, I have to tell you the worst part of my stay in Quito. I was staying in a room with three French guys, who had the worst body odor ever. The first night I thought it was because they had gone out partying and had one too many drinks. However, when the odor didn't get any better the next day, I almost threw up when I walked into the room. It was horrible. How could they not have smelled it every time they walked in. I wanted to gag just walking past our room. I slept with my head under my blanket. I was happy when they checked out the next day... and surprisingly the cleaning lady got the smell out of the room.

After a nice cheap breakfast, Kate, her Dad Frances and I headed off to the Media del Mundo. It took us about a hour and a half, and three busses, but we got there. Before heading up to the monument, we caught another bus and walked up to a near by town that is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. It was a beautiful view, and there was a really nice guy who gave us a free brief history of the volcano and the town. It was a nice hike and we were happy that it only cost 25 cents to get there. The Media del Mundo statue was pretty cool, even though it wasn't located on the exact Equator. The French had located it about 200 meters off of the real zero point. But it was still pretty cool and impressive. We also sat in on a little presentation about some ancient Indians who lived in the area thousands of years ago, who had worshiped the sun and had located the exact Equator without any GPS assistance. It was pretty fascinating. We then headed to the Equator Museum that is set up on the Equator. It was really cool! There was all sorts of experiments that only work on the Equator. Like I was able to balance an egg on a nail, they showed the water draining clockwise (in the southern hemisphere) and counter-clockwise (in the northern) and then STRAIGHT DOWN in the middle... super cool! The craziest experiment was our guide had us hold our arms up and try and keep them up while she pulled them down... she was almost hanging on them and she couldn't. But then when standing on the Equator, she pulled them down with one arm. Something about the forces of gravity and the magnetic fields. It was nuts! Also at this museum was information about the native Indians around Equador. They showed us replicas of their houses, how to us a blow gun (I stuck it in the cactus, I would totally survive the Jungle) and a real shrunken head! They even had direction on how to make your own shrunken head. Too crazy! But the craziest thing happened when we were almost done with our tour. This group of six Americans joined our tour (you can get on and off it where ever) and our guide asked where they were from... WYOMING!!!! I almost fell down when they said that. They were from Cheyenne, Casper, and Wheatland... they too almost flipped out when I said I was born and raised in Gillette! We were all in shock! It was a couple about my age, who were doing volunteer with in Ecuador and both of their pairs of parents. So it was a world record for the most Wyoming people on the Equator at one time. Kate didn't really understand why we were all freaking out, until she found out that there are only 500,000 people in the whole state... and most of them do not travel that much. So for 7 of us to be on the Equator at the same time, is just crazy! I chatted with them for a bit, but then the guide got mad at me for interrupting her tour, so we took off. I was so in shock! That night we had a nice dinner at the hostel before reading my book that night.

I was planning on taking off and heading to Latacunga, so I got all checked out before heading up the Telefanicular with Kate and her dad. When we got there we were lucky enough to end up behind about 50 school children. We had to wait a while, but they were so cute to watch get on the lift. They were giddy with excitement and were about to explode while they were waiting. their excitement actually made me excited to get in... and I have been in a gondola hundreds of times. The views of the city were amazing! We could see everything. The coolest was a near by volcano that was very jagged and breathtaking. We had a great time hiking around and we met a really nice South African guy, Andy, who was getting acclimated to hike Volcano Cotopaxi in a few days. We had a great day, however, we spent too much time up there and I decided to just stay another night and had to check back into the hostel.

After a nice breakfast with Kate and some of our other friends at the hostel, I finally packed up my bag and headed south. It was off to Latacunga to visit Cotopaxi, and do some hikes in near by towns. However, on the bus as I arrived in town, I decided to just keep heading south to Baņos. I just had a feeling there would be more people there and I didn't want to be alone. It was a good choice.
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