A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about andes

White-water rafting and some thermal baths

Baños and the River Pastaza


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Monday 9/6/14

This was a quiet day... breakfast, several games of pool, then a look round town. I showed Dave the traditional taffee-pullers on our way to the Basilica, our first destination.

2014-06-09-09h23m27.JPG2014-06-09-13h51m54.JPG2014-06-09-13h51m32.JPG2014-06-09-19h02m27.jpg2014-06-09-18h59m20.jpg

We had a good look round.

2014-06-09-12h22m22.JPG2014-06-09-12h30m40.JPG2014-06-09-12h44m06.JPG2014-06-09-12h46m07.JPG2014-06-09-12h45m30.JPG2014-06-09-12h18m45.JPG2014-06-09-12h39m07.JPG

Then we booked a white water rafting session for the next morning and a ziplining session for Wednesday afternoon at a travel & tour agent and had a delicious lunch at a restaurant - a vegetarian pizza and a tuna fillet in a shrimp sauce (we both had half of each one). Then we went to an internet café and gave our nearest & dearest our happy news by Google Video Chat and by phone! After a while Dave went back to the hostel and I stayed online for an hour or so. In the evening the hostel gave every guest who wanted it a free dinner of pesto pasta, so we had that. We finished the day with some more games of pool and several games of whist and 10-card rummy.

Tuesday 10/6/14

Although it was raining this morning, we still had a brilliant time rafting on the River Pastaza! Aside from our guide Patricio and us, there were four Americans. Before we got on the river Patricio gave us a talk about and demonstration of instructions, safety strategies, what to do if we or someone else fell in, etc. He gave us our sitting positions as well; Dave and the only other guy at the front, the rest of us in rows of two behind. I was sitting directly behind Dave. Patricio sat at the back.

P6102577.JPG2014-06-10-11h49m21.JPGP6102573.JPGP6102589.JPG

As soon as we got to the riverbank and saw how incredibly fast the water was running (it had rained a lot overnight and the night before that) one of the Americans, who had been acting nervously on the minibus on the way to the river, had a moment of panic - she stepped away from the raft and said she didn't want to do it any more - but was persuaded back by her friend to give it a go. Patricio said that there was a potential stopping point halfway along if she wanted to be dropped off there.

Due to the swollen nature of the river part of it was no longer accessible to us, but the section we did go on was still long. The scenery was beautiful - it was a lot like the River Napo, with large, round stones on the banks instead of mud and beyond that a selection of rainforest and other lush greenery on every side stretching into the distance. Photos were taken throughout by the safety kayaker, who amazed us with his skill manoeuvering his kayak around through the rapids.

P6102732.JPGP6102669.JPGP6102765.JPGP6102611.JPGP6102638.JPGP6102622.JPG

After a while Patricio asked me if I would like to sit on the 'prow' of the raft facing out, sitting on the edge with my feet in the water whilst holding onto the rope that ran round the side of the raft as hard as I could with both hands. I jumped at the chance and it was very exciting, especially considering that when waves crashed over us head-on I took the full force of them.

P6102709.JPG2014-06-10-12h45m12-12.JPG

I managed not to fall in the river at any point, luckily. After ten minutes or so one of the other girls wanted a go, so we exchanged places and I took her paddle. Once she'd finished her go nobody else wanted to take her place so I did so for a second turn. The nervous American had chosen not to get dropped off halfway along, by the way, because she said she was enjoying it more than she thought she would. The whole experience was really exciting and we would both definitely do it again like a shot!

On the way back we stopped at a tiny village called Rio Negro and were given some lunch - grilled fish, rice, salad and some massive slices of watermelon - before returning to Baños. It was about half past two by the time we got back.

Back at the hostel we stayed only for a chocolate brownie (Dave), a crumbly blueberry slice (me), a drink each and a game of pool before going out on another excursion - this time only round the corner from the hostel to the open air hot thermal baths.

2014-06-10-15h03m54.JPG2014-06-10-15h17m33.JPG2014-06-10-15h08m11.JPG2014-06-10-15h20m40.JPG

The sun had come out by now. We had a great time soaking ourselves in the two hot pools that were available during the day (there were three others, including one extremely hot and two cold, but apparently they are only accessible in the evening session). It was quite surreal in an extremely good way.

2014-06-10-15h37m00.JPG2014-06-10-15h35m36.JPG2014-06-10-15h37m29.JPG2014-06-10-16h28m04.JPG2014-06-10-15h38m52.JPG2014-06-10-16h19m44.JPG

On our way back to the hostel we saw these not-quite-ripe clementine and tomatilla (tree tomato) bushes.

2014-06-10-16h36m28.JPG2014-06-10-16h36m58.JPG

Dinner was free once more at the hostel - risotto this time. It was good but we were still hungry afterwards so we paid for a chocolate brownie to share and a Cuban Libre cocktail each. To top the night off we played some pool, rummy and whist before going to bed.

2014-06-09-19h19m51.JPG2014-06-09-21h08m40.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 08:15 Archived in Ecuador Tagged basilica hostel dave cocktails banos andes ecuador white_water_rafting ecuadorian_cuisine river_trip thermal_baths Comments (0)

Arrival in Baños

Cuenca and Baños


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

No time to wait for our free breakfast in Cuenca this morning because we had a marathon journey to Baños ahead of us. The first leg, from Cuenca to Ambato, started at 8.10am and took just under seven hours; the scenery was even more spectacular this time than it was yesterday.

2014-06-08-07h08m11.JPG2014-06-08-10h46m39.JPG2014-06-08-09h24m18.JPG2014-06-08-09h33m44.JPG2014-06-08-09h27m43.JPG

On our way into the centre of town we passed some restaurants with whole roast pigs hung up outside. The one in this picture is just out of sight.

2014-06-08-09h19m49.JPG

Instead of Ambato bus terminal we were dropped off at the side of a road on the outskirts of the city instead, something I was momentarily slightly concerned about. Dave got a nosebleed just then as well. Luckily it stopped after a minute and then I noticed Baños buses passing by so I knew we were in the right place. We had to cross the road but only two minutes later the right bus came and we got on with no problems.

The Ambato - Baños leg took one hour. At one point we passed through Pelileo, a small town full of jeans shops - many of the shop signs had an apostrophe where there should not have been any ('Pelileo Jean's' instead of 'Jeans'), something I point out because this type of English mistake is actually so rare here. I see it much more often in the UK!

2014-06-08-15h33m11.JPG2014-06-08-15h34m39.JPG

The scenery continued to be fantastic right until we got to Baños.

2014-06-08-15h53m02.JPG2014-06-08-15h55m04.JPG

We arrived at Baños bus terminal at 4.10pm. Since then we've spent our time playing free games of pool and having a couple of cocktails at the hostel, going out for dinner at a restaurant (we had half each of both a shrimp ceviche and a Pizza Continental; I also had a blackberry yoghurt shake and Dave had a Coke and some iced tea) and looking inside the Basilica briefly just as the last service of the day ended.

2014-06-08-19h21m22.JPG2014-06-08-18h26m50.JPG2014-06-08-17h52m00.JPG2014-06-08-17h51m09.JPG

We also took some photos of the Basilica from the other side of the main square.

2014-06-08-20h03m08.JPG2014-06-08-19h54m02.JPG2014-06-08-20h00m45.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 07:39 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains basilica hostel buses dave cocktails banos andes ceviche ecuador cuenca ecuadorian_cuisine ambato Comments (0)

Cuenca with Dave

Montecristi (Panama) hat


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

By 8.10 we were on the bus to Cuenca. The scenery on the way was as spectacular as ever and we arrived between 12 and 12.30.

2014-06-07-09h04m40.JPG2014-06-07-10h07m48.JPG2014-06-07-10h17m00.JPG2014-06-07-11h43m12.JPG2014-06-07-12h15m32.JPG

We walked from the bus station to Bauhouse Hostel (sic), passing some streetsellers with baskets of guinea pigs on the way.

2014-06-07-13h03m06.JPG2014-06-07-22h56m10.jpg

Dave had a snooze once we'd got there but I went out to the launderette to get some washing done... as soon as I arrived at the main square I noticed that a parade was going on with soldiers in ceremonial white and either black or navy blue uniforms. They were raising and occasionally twirling batons and some trumpeters played at one point. Drums were beating as well. I was really pleasantly surprised because as far as I was aware there was no festival or special occasion today.

2014-06-07-14h08m38.JPG2014-06-07-14h07m11.JPG2014-06-07-14h18m05.JPG2014-06-07-14h12m39.JPG

After taking some photos of the parade I went on to the launderette and got most of my clothes done. Once they were in the dryer I went back to the hostel for 40 minutes and then returned with Dave. I picked up my clothes and then we went to the same small traditional Panama (Montecristi) hat workshop where I bought Dad's hat for Christmas. Dave will be 30 in July and I wanted to get him a hat as an early birthday present from me, because we won't be in the same place on his actual birthday. Unfortunately, when we arrived we found that it was all locked and shuttered up! I'd thought it was open until 6pm on Saturdays. Instead, we went to a different place nearby and Dave tried a few on before settling on one.

2014-06-07-17h05m10.JPG2014-06-07-16h56m20.JPG2014-06-07-16h57m08.JPG2014-06-07-16h53m20.JPG

After I'd paid for it the guy put it in a cloth bag shaped like a hat.

2014-06-07-23h45m55.JPG

On the way back to the hostel to dump our stuff, I suddenly remembered about food for our long bus journey to Banos tomorrow and the fact that we would have to leave too early to get our free breakfast from the hostel, so we went on a quick bakery hunt. The ones I found didn't have what I was looking for but then we passed by a streetseller at the side of the pavement - mostly they sell fruit and vegetables, with the occasional basket of chickens or guinea pigs, but this one had a big basket filled with plastic bags of buns. There weren't any sweet ones so I bought a bag of about ten with cheese in the middle instead.

After dumping our stuff we headed out again. Dave brought his DSLR with him and between us we got a few photos of different parts of the historic centre.

2014-06-07-16h03m30.JPG2014-06-07-16h38m44.JPG2014-06-07-16h28m32.JPG2014-06-07-22h58m51.jpg2014-06-07-23h10m43.jpg

Then we had some dinner - I had a lovely dish of white fish chunks in white sauce and vegetables, with rice as a side, and Dave had 'churrasco', a large thin steak with two fried eggs, rice, avocado, chips and salad. Lovely. Then another few photos, now it was after dark, and back to the hostel to pack for tomorrow.

Posted by 3Traveller 04:53 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains market hostel dave andes ecuador procession cuenca unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine Comments (0)

Easter Sunday in Quito

Quito


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Emma, Mark and I had to head off to the airport at lunchtime today, I back to Guayaquil and Emma & Mark back to London via Amsterdam, so we decided to just wander around Quito Old Town in the morning and see whether there was anything particularly Easter-related going on.

After having breakfast and opening Easter things from home, we hopped on the Trolebus and got off at Plaza Grande, before heading to the Cathedral. Before going in Emma, Kate and I chose a candle (blue because it was Dad's favourite colour), I bought it and we then lit it inside for him.

IMG_1223.JPGIMG_1221.JPG

While we were inside an Easter service started, somewhat startlingly with the first couple of lines of the tune to 'Joy to the World' - perhaps in Ecuador it's the tune to an Easter hymn? A little later on the cantor and congregation sang a hymn that we all recognised, despite it being in Latin American Spanish: 'When All the Saints Come Marching In'. It felt a little odd hearing a normally familiar hymn in a foreign language! Shortly before we left they started singing another hymn that was clearly Eastery because it mainly consisted of alleluias, though going by the tune and the proportion of alleluias to other words it wasn't 'Jesus Christ is Risen Today'.

IMG_1227.JPGIMG_1229.JPGIMG_1236.JPGIMG_1232.JPG

On the pavement on the road to one side of the cathedral there were some artists working on paintings (in oils I think) with completed works for sale. It was interesting seeing them at work. Emma and I both bought a small painting from one of the artists. We then wandered up to Plaza San Francisco to see whether anything much was going on there. There wasn't really, but we did stop at Tianguez café and some of us had drinks. Kate and I had big glasses of thick, delicious, freshly squeezed guanabana juice.

1012587_992576748090_4571792045340236256_n.jpg

After this we wandered round a bit more.

IMG_1240.JPG

We went into a centre with a museum in it and, I think, the Ecuadorean national archives, but all we could find was a gift shop and a smallish gallery of religious art, so we didn't stay long. Then we made our way to the right Trolebus stop to get back to the hostel; as we passed through Plaza Grande we stopped to watch some traditional dances that were being performed.

IMG_1244.JPGIMG_1242.JPG

After getting off the Trolebus at the other end, we nipped into a branch of 'Oki Doki' convenience store for me, Emma and Mark to stock up on snacks for our flights. Then a quick stop back at the hostel to finish packing, check emails and have a lovely unexpected Google Hangouts video chat with Mum, before Emma, Mark and I left for the airport. It was sad saying goodbye both at the hostel and the airport. Their flight left before mine did. Kate and Andrew were staying in Quito for the night and flying back to the UK the next day.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:57 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art airport cathedral sisters dad mum quito andes ecuador explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_grande plaza_san_francisco traditional_customs easter_celebrations Comments (0)

Easter Saturday at the Equator: Cayambe and Quitsato Sundial

Cayambe, Quitsato Sundial, the Line of the Equator and Quito


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

We were only in Cayambe for about twenty minutes because we were there to get a taxi to our next destination. We did however make sure to buy some 'biscochos', the town's speciality. These are very buttery biscuits sold in fingers. Then on to the line of the Equator! The Quitsato Sundial is at the roadside about 3km south of Cayambe, on the road to Quito. This place is very untouristy in comparison to the much more famous Mitad Del Mundo complex, which is a tourist trap and peddles several equator myths as if they are facts. The Quitsato Sundial is much more scientific.

IMG_1219.JPG

The sundial is huge; big enough to walk around on. I would guess the diameter to be about 50 metres. We had a talk (in English) about the site and about the work of the Quitsato Project. We found out such interesting information as the fact that from the Equator you can see all the constellations visible in both hemispheres, that many pre-Inca sites have been discovered in the area that align exactly with the position of the sun at various equinoxes etc., that the Equator runs right through Volcano Cayambe (a snow-covered peak that we could see from where we were standing), and that the word 'north' means 'left' and is so called because it is on your left as you face east, the direction of the rising sun.

IMG_1206.JPGIMG_1188.JPGIMG_1186.JPG

After the talk we couldn't resist taking photos of us standing with a foot in each hemisphere, standing on the exact Equator, etc., some including a post at the centre of the sundial that announces that it is at 0 degrees latitude.

10172849_992575765060_6770632293391237278_n.jpg10301132_992575740110_8931664420293117124_n.jpgIMG_1183.JPGIMG_1190.JPGIMG_1198.JPGIMG_1194.JPG

To get back to Quito we flagged down a passing bus and jumped on. It was around 7:30 by the time we got back to the hostel.

For dinner Emma, Mark, Andrew and I went to a Cuban restaurant round the corner, but it wasn't a great experience because the service was so incredibly slow, despite the fact that there was only one other group of customers there. I've been in Ecuador for nearly a year now and have never experienced service that slow before. My rice pudding was lovely but the portion was very small.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:18 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains hostel sisters quito andes ecuador cayambe ecuadorian_cuisine quitsato_sundial the_equator easter_celebrations Comments (0)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 31) Previous « Page 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 » Next