A Travellerspoint blog


I´m not a celebrity, don´t get me out of here

overcast 18 °C

Quito is just a distant memory now and I´ve since teamed up with 9 other intrepid explorers. We headed to Otavalo to see the "famous" markets ( no I had never heard of them either) and a chance to try our bartering skills. I was nearly tempted to buy a couple of things but I know how souvenirs have a habit of transforming themselves into hideous pieces of tat as soon as you get them home.

Pretty street light in Otavalo

The next day we endured two long bus rides and a river boat trip to reach our lodge in the Amzon jungle. Our accommodation was surrounded by lush green foliage, spiders that were the size of my hand, set to a chorus of insects and frogs. The "rain" forest lived up to its name as we hadseveral torrential downpours hard enough to make Noah consider building another Ark.

Amazon Red Funnel Ferry service

It´s the Amazon (but you can´t order books here)

Of all the things I expected to learn in the Amazon, the rules of contract Bridge were not one of them. With little to occupy us in the evenings myself and another volunteer came under the tutorledge of two other travellers from the UK who are veterans of the game. It seems bridge requires a fair amount of brain power, something I forgot to pack...........

Our last day in the Amazon involved river tubing down the river Napo, which just involves sitting inside an inner tube and floating downstream, followed by a visit to a local Quechuan family to stay how they live and have a christmas dinner with them. The evening started well enough as I watched the men playing football, the children running around having fun whilst the women prepared the food. It was when a large bowl of beetle larvae were introduced to the menu I begin to have my doubts. They were about the size of a thumb and as I watched one of the women removing their inners she then threw them into another bowl where they writhed around whilst a yellow substance oozed from within. Yum yum, I could hardly wait. Still, when in Rome etc.... so I swallowed my pride and a couple of grubs (once they had been cooked of course, I´m not THAT mad!) Crunchy, smoky and full of protein is about as descriptive as I can get. Our tour guide made a slight blunder when she decided to wash her hands in, what she thought was a bowl of water, but turned out to be a bowl of lemongrass tea for everyone to drink. We decided it would be better not to tell anyone, ignorance is bliss and all that.

Christmas lunch, Quechuan style with a grub surprise within the leaves.

Well we´ve left the jungle behind and another couple of bus journeys later I am now in a town called Banos (pronounced Banyos). It is the adventure capital of Ecuador, with all sorts of activities to do. This morning I went canyoning, which is basicaly walking down a river with the occasional bit of abseiling and leaping into water pools. The local volcano is rumored to be active again so I may be going to see that tonight (from a distance of course), although I did consider taking a couple of potatoes to see if I could make supper while I was there.

View from the hotel in Banos (mistle murkle)

Next stop is a couple of days away, in the city of Cuenca.

Posted by esotericmind 13:21 Archived in Ecuador Tagged amazon banos Comments (0)

Quito, A Tale of Two Ciudads

semi-overcast 18 °C
View South American Odyssey on esotericmind's travel map.

I´m not normally a nervous flyer, but on the flight to Ecuador, the woman sat next to me performed the Catholic holy trinity action no less than 3 times before we were about to take off. I wondered if she knew something I didn´t. Similarly, after the wheels finally hit the ground in Ecuador a round of applause echoed through the cabin. It seems the saftey of air travel in this part of the world is left, not to the professionals that fly them, but to more spiritual beings.........

Quito is divided into what is known as the Old town and the New town. The New Town consists of mainly concrete buildings, of dubious build quality, not much character and choked with traffic. The Old town, by contrast, retains its oringinal colonial influence and is full of plazas and more interesting architecture. Various Latin music belches out of different shops and I´m pleased I didn´t rush to judge Quito on the New town alone.

I did take a couple of unremarkable pictures but the computer at the hotel is an eMac (no, not an iMac) and I have no idea how to transfer them. The one thing I didn´t get a picture of was of some of the local electrical stores. Alongside the usual fare of fridges, washing machines and TV´s, you can also purchase a motorbike! I´m sure this seems perfectly logical to the Ecuadorians but I cound´t see the connection.

I did try to venture up to the towering Angel statue that over looks the old town, but on setting out on the long climb up the hill I spotted a sign sprayed onto a wall in English stating "TOURISTS BEWARE: Robbery Area. Do not use this street". How efficient I thought, they have contained their crime into a single street. Needless to say I did not venture any further.

Unbelievably, despite the low temperatures (about 18 degress) and cloudy skies, I have managed to get sunburned AGAIN! Apparently the sun´s strength is 3 times more powerful at this altitude. Really must learn my lesson soon, although my face is now colour co-ordinated with my red fleece.

I suspect that internet coverage will be more patchy from now on, so my next post may be a while....

Posted by esotericmind 15:02 Archived in Ecuador Tagged quito Comments (3)

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