28.06.2007 - 07.07.2007 18 °C
Ahh, Ecuador. I feel a little sorry for poor little Ecuador as I didn´t really give it my full attention. Desperate to get to the beaches in Colombia, and a little bit over the Andes, altitude and the cold, I whipped through Ecuador in 10 days. And it´s a shame really, because the scenery, the towns and the people are really beautiful. I went straight up the middle through lush countrysides and little villages.
First stop was Cuenca and lovely as it was, it was another colonial city, and I´m a wee bit sick of them by now! I stayed only one night.
Then off to Banos, a little place known for it´s hot springs and waterfalls (also for the comedy value of a town effectively named "toilet"!) Getting in and out turned out to be a bit of an adventure as they had a landslide that took out a part of the only road in. Wasn´t so bad getting in, just had to wait an hour in the rain till they opened up a part of the road they were working on, and then a 10 minute walk to some awaiting trucks that took people into town. Getting out wasn´t so easy. I didn´t want to wait till 6pm till they opened the road that I´d walked in on. Instead had to do a 45 minute, gruelling, zig zag walk up a mountain to get to the buses. I paid some guy $5 to carry my backpack! I actually think the locals were rather happy about the landslide, they were making a nice little profit out of it...selling water and food along the way, trucks to take people to the buses, boys to carry backpacks and taxi´s charging extortinist amounts! Anyway, back to Banos. Lovely place. Spent 3 days here, taking in some time in the hot baths, of course, some walks to lovely nearby waterfalls and a day white water rafting! I´ve met many people who´ve been white water rafting who seemed aghast at the fact they went overboard! Personally, I think it´s not a good rafting trip without a good spill!! So I was happy when we hadn´t been on the river even 20 mintues before we went surfing and then finally flipped and we all went in the river! Aah, took me back to my days on the Zambesi!!
After Banos, was Quito. A really nice city. I stayed in the New Town and it was nice to be back in a modern city with some good food. I spent a day checking out the Old Town as well, which was all lovely and white and colonial. Also went to Mitad del Mundo for some Equator fun. You know, putting a foot on each side, watching water spin different ways on each side, that sort of thing. Oh, also saw a real shrunken head in a museum there too, fascinating stuff!
After Quito was Otavalo and surrounds. Ok, so I admit it, I went to Otavalo for the sole purpose of shopping at their famous markets. And boy did I shop. My back pack is overloaded and I had to buy another bag to fit in all the goodies! Also visited a nearby town, Cotacachi, known for it´s cheap leather goods. I bought a jacket...I have a problem...
Also near Otavalo is Ibarra, where I tried the. best. ice. cream. EVER! This is a big call for me. I love my ice cream and have more than my fair share in South America (they´re obsessed with it over here!). Anyway, Heladaria Rosalia Suarez is an ice cream shop that was opened by Rosalia herself some 90 years ago. She perfected the method known as paila, which is ice cream hand turned in copper bowels. It was amazing, I had a big bowel and a cone to take away! Dare I say it, it was even better than Italian ice cream!
Me at the Equator
Quito old town
Rosalia´s ice cream