Ecuador leg almost finished...

Trip Start Sep 16, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, October 10, 2005

Can I just start by saying wow Im in Ecuador!

So far its going well... well apart from when I arrived in Lima they lost my bag for a week. I wasn't really very struck on Lima which seems to be the general opinion and it is where I am suppose to be volunteering in about six months so im trying to change over to Cusco instead as I don't think I would like to spend a month there.
The host family I am staying with here are great they have really looked after me and they lent me clothes from one of the granddaughters while my bag was lost, shes twenty and they fitted ok. Im just glad to have my things back after careful consideration of what to pack and buying all those new things I didn't want to have to contemplate starting over. The food here is great and the people really nice, things are going ok with the Spanish but I wish I had a couple more months to stay here. It makes me feel so ignorant when there are people speaking three or more different languages at the language school and Im struggling with a extra one, lol well at least Im giving it a go!

Quito is really nice although majorly polluted and its hard to get to grips with how poor some people are compared with others! Theres people begging in the street, many street vendors of which quite a few are children and in contrast theres shopping centers with all the major highstreet shops so its a bit of a mind bender to say the least. Ive met some really good people, at the language school its a mixture of people mainly from England, US and Holland. Quite a few of us started at the same time but all studying for different lengths of time with different onward plans Jay and Ishler are volunteering in the rainforest, Jenny and Gemma are both staying in Quito a little longer with a 6 week visit to the language school in Cusco to really perfect their spanish and then volunteering locally. Phil is volunteering on the Galapagos islands. Matt and Suzanne have travelled to Banos and then there off to Rio. Also Matt who was finishing up at the language school to continue travelling in South America. At the language school we study in the mornings from 8.30 till 1 and sometimes they have excursions in the afternoon or just a group of us will get together and go and do something.

We went with the language school to visit la Carcel de Mujeres the womens prison here which was quite a eye opener. We had to take tooth paste and toilet roll to give out to the inmates several of whom were English and Irish. Most people are there on drugs related charges with most quite happy to tell there story. The prison is quite over crowded with little funding however it seems quite open with the womens boyfriends visiting and people all around the place with much business taking place. It seems if you have money there then your life could be much easier. Its also sad that if there is no one else to take care of them that the children are in prison with the mother or at least until five.

Now for some slightly less intense and more touristy stuff, I went up the cable car called the teleferiqo (http://www.teleferiqo.com) which goes up the slopes of pinchincha rojo or cruz loma I think its called which is one of the foothills to the pinchincha volcano. We went up in the afternoon and hadn't realized how much scope there was for hiking so decided that we would return earlier on the weekend and take our time as the altitude quite literally takes your breath away! When we returned on the weekend we hiked for about 6 hours in total with some of it getting pretty hairy at the end, just as we were reaching the top the cloud started to come in thick and fast so we had to move fast to get back arriving finally just before the heavens opened. Then they stopped the cable cars as there was a lightening storm and we were stuck for about two more hours! All an adventure. The same weekend we also travelled a couple of hours taking one of the many hair raising bus journeys to the biggest market near by which is called Otavalo where indigenous people sell there crafts to the tourist but also they have the locals side of the market selling livestock, fruit and vegetables and food and wares.

Another excursion with the language school was to the Mitad del Mundo the center of the earth where the equator crosses Ecuador. There are a couple of monuments to this, firstly a huge impressive monument but then next door the real center solar museum which is where the Indians said it was which has now been proven by GPS. Here you can have a tour where they do various experiments based around the equator and you also get to hear a little about the Indian way of life and see an original house and see original crafts.

We've had a few nights out to the Mariscal area of Quito otherwise know as Gringoland which was great fun as a big group. I may have rather warmed to my new favorite cocktail Mojitos. That is the decent ones made with proper white rum not the local sugar cane alcohol which leave you feeling rather rough around the edges. lol lets just say I felt interesting the day after a few of those when I went back to the mitad del mundo with one of the students who hadn't been there and proceeded to have stomach problems for a week or so after but I don't know if that could have been attributed to the ice in the place we were drinking probably made from tap water. Still not feeling at my healthiest on the Sunday, Phil (one of the students from the language school) and I decided to go to Cotopaxi one of the big snow capped volcanoes as the others had plans further afield in Banos and at the coast which I will be visiting later at the end of my over landing. Anyway the organization was a shambles we should have set out much earlier and didn't bank that the trains to cotopaxi on Sunday would only be once a day really early, finding the train station itself was a mission and when we arrived it looked out of use. So we revised our plans and went and got a bus which took about a hour and a half to two hours when the conductor told us it was out stop we got off for the national park entrance to find out it was quite a way back up the road so this guy offered to drive us back up there for $5 each. When we arrive we wanted to check if we could take the train back to Quito but by this time it was one o'clock and the last train back was going to leave in a hour so we decide we would go for a hike and try and get a good view of cotopaxi which was what we were there to see but unfortunately it was covered in cloud and about 10 minutes into the hike the heavens opened! We trekked round for about 4 hours but our persistence paid off as we were rewarded with clear views of cotopaxi when the cloud lifted for just a short while (see my photos). Anyway back on the Panamerican hi-way loads of buses were passing us with Quito signs but none of them were stopping so we continued to walk up the road but these buses which usually stop everywhere and anywhere weren't stopping and it was going to be getting dark soon so we took the decision to hitch hike, luckily a Ecuadorian family from Quito in a pick up truck stopped and let me ride up front with the mum, dad and baby and Phil went in the back with the kids and various other people who where getting a lift. A couple of hours later we arrived back in Quito absolutely exhausted after the days adventures!

Early monday morning four students including me and two of the teachers from the school met ready to go to the bellavista cloud forest reserve where we study for 4 hours per day and spend the rest of the time going hiking through the various trails with a guide and horse riding. You can check out the details of the reserve at the web site also take a look at some of my pictures including the group by the waterfall and our guide Gabriel who decide to jump in and take a shower in another waterfall!(http://www.bellavistacloudforest.com) The weather was quite cold and rained a lot but a good time was still had by all and the food was really good, shame my stomach wasn't up to much all week.

This week Im finishing my studies at the language school and leaving my host family who have just had another student arrive. Saturday ill be departing for the next leg of my journey overland beginning in Caracas, Venezuela. Almost forgot we all took Salsa lessons at the school this week which was definatley a laugh! Ive now seen the doctor about my stomach bug and Im on some medications and feeling much better!

Thats all for now sorry its took a while guys,
Chao for now.
Karen.

P.S.Dont forget to check out the pictures as I post them.
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Comments

nibbler
nibbler on

About bleedin time an all.
Hi Karen,
See you've been busy.
Was starting to dust of my rucksack, boots and rescue kit.

Sorry to hear you got the travellers runs. But glad you are getting better, tip is get yourself a bottle of tequilla. Any time you think you have taken local water, take 3 shots of tequilla. Local water can taint, as you said ice, but also what they wash the salad in as well as the cutlery (always dry the cutlery) and don't accept any bottle of water where the seal is broken.
So doctor Nibbler prescribes :- no salad or ice and plenty of tequilla just in case ;-)

Then just to be safe more tequilla!

To stop flys landing on the rim of the bottle of cerveza or your glass (and then leaving their nasty footprints), stick a slice of lemon or lime in the top of the bottle or rub it round the rim of the glass and then hang it on the rim. The citrus oil wards them off.

How's the hair? Still straight or is it getting a little frizzy ;-)It looks straight but a lot lighter.
Another tip, cut a potatoe in half and use the two halves as you would a straightner. The starch firms it up. But remember to comb it shortly afterwards(don't ask, I just know too much stuff)

Cotopaxi was definately a sight worth seeing, so beautiful. Where'd you get the wellies from for the Bellavista hike?

Missin ya.
Nibbler
xx

johnno.ball
johnno.ball on

Aha...the Wellies
Personally I think they are Llama Preventatives...but enough said....Potatoes for hair straigteners?...earth calling Nibbler...well who am I to say...being a slap head

Love the pics....not the welllies...good luck Girl

xx

nichola
nichola on

The return of the purple woo woo stick!
Shit gal, it took you long enough :op

Sounds like you've been muchos busy gringo! I've made the picture of Cotopaxi my wallpaper. Some good photo's taken - i'm impressed!

I'm sat here in my dressing gown, about to watch Labyrinth. Yep, it's 15:14 and i'm in my dressing gown! Wish you were here! With some Haribo! And midget gems!

I start my new job on Monday, so i'm taking the opportunity to be a complete scruff for the last few days of freedom. Well, that's my excuse and i'm sticking to it.

Anyway, David Bowie is calling my name. Ooh David, with your gobin king mullet, and variable colours.

Love you loads... Miss you more.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

karen_buxton
karen_buxton on

Re: The return of the purple woo woo stick!
Missing you too hun and I wish you the best of luck for monday. I´ll be thinking of you.

K. x

karen_buxton
karen_buxton on

Re: About bleedin time an all.
Cheers for the tips Keith I´ll keep those in mind. They lent us the wellies at bellavista, necessary for walking through streams and rivers on the walks. Hope your keeping yourself out of trouble and that your backs still on the mend. Kaz.

karen_buxton
karen_buxton on

Re: Aha...the Wellies
You guys crack me up!

suzyb
suzyb on

Hello
Hi Karen

Open my mail on a monday morning to start work - read your email and now i so dont want to do any work. i so proud of you going off by yourself. It sound like you are having a great time.

I go to Lima next month ( but i'm only staying 1 day as someone said cusco is much better ) I hope they dont lose my bags. i still not fit enought to do the 4 day trek but i got a month to get down the gym.

I post you pictures when i return.

Hope you are ok. You take care and enjoy it. x

willtong
willtong on

No more work ethic for me either...
Hi Karen!

Great to hear from you - was beginning to wonder how you were getting on. There's only one problem though - I'm supposed to be revising for exams (jut had one today and got another tomorrow) and I've absolutely zero motivation left... Think I might go and pack my bags and book some tickets instead...

take care and ttfn,
Willxx

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