Since I haven’t been on one of those life-changing adventures in a while and I have at least another month to go until my next one, I’m going to do a throwback trip post. A year and a half ago I traveled to Ecuador and had one of the best experiences of my life. I was there about three weeks and have enough stories and memories to last a lifetime. If you love to travel as much as I do, if you crave adventures and exploring, if you’re excited about trying new food, if you’re psyched about seeing wild animals, or if beautiful landscapes are more your thing – I highly recommend making your way to Ecuador. I didn’t have a travel blog when I went on this trip, but I did have email so here is what I wrote about in June 2014 – I’ll divide it up in a few posts as always!
We got to Quito very late on Saturday night. We were both exhausted and sick from the travel and altitude change. We were met at the airport by a nice taxi driver who works for the hotel (he’s driven us a couple times now) but he doesn’t really speak any english, like enough to ask how things were and understand if we say okay or good or something basic. We had to drive down main highway style roads and then down a dirt road that was kind of sketchy. I was like where did we rent a room from? But then we pulled up to a fancy tall wooden gate and waited for someone to open it and the owner’s son did and greeted us and helped us with our bags and everything. We were exhausted and went straight to bed then. Here’s what the room was like:
The next morning we got up pretty early and were excited to see the hotel in daylight. Beautiful isn’t it?
We left for a private tour of more the city area with a hired guide. He took us to a small town, about 40 minutes away through the mountains, that’s famous for biscuits.
We ate freshly made biscuits and fresh cheese. He said the people there wake up around 3am every day to make it all. We walked around briefly to get a sense of the place then kept driving. The guide stopped at the side of the road where they had fresh fruit and bought us some fruit I’ve never heard of, it was good. He also stopped and bought us water and chocolate to help with the altitude change (he was very nice).
We stopped at a place with an old giant sun clock where the equator line runs through. It was awesome to stand on either side of the equator and feel what it’s like to be at the center of the world.
Then we went to this other town that was a long drive away and that’s where the market was. It was pouring rain, which sucked, but we had an hour to walk through the market area that was somewhat covered from the rain. We got to use our bargaining skills. Like they would have a tablecloth and ask for 50$ and we’d say no how about $8. Usually they met in the middle somewhere and regardless even if we paid the full first offer price, it would be nothing compared to what it would cost in America. After an hour of shopping and bags and bags full of things for us and gifts, then we dropped off the stuff in the car and went out to lunch with our driver/guide. We all got a huge meal. They first bring drinks, then popcorn (everywhere in ecuador serves popcorn and it’s great – I love popcorn!), then we each got a plate full of little things including pork, large beans, and salad and corn. Then we got a big bowl of soup with veggies and meat in it, and then we got the lunch we ordered which was a huge plate of fried trout and fries and more vegetables. I was full after the popcorn so I had a hard time finishing it all.
Then our guide let us have a half hour and we went walking on this street in the town that has tons of leather stores and shops, so we found really nice gifts and things for us made of leather and again it was half the price we would pay at home. For example, we found a nice jacket that was $100, at home it could easily cost $400 if not more. So that was cool. This is still all on the first day, and we had hours of driving mixed into it all. I love that about traveling.
Then we drove bit to this state park kind of thing in the mountains. We had to go up a lot of steps and hills. The altitude change made the walk a little harder than it would be in different circumstances.
But when we got to the top, it was so worth it!
We walked around up there and then climbed down a different side to this museum about the area and native people. We made it to what is an old volcano crater filled with water like a giant lake. It was really breathtaking and amazing.
We took a boat ride around the lake, which was very fun and the views were beautiful.
After this we finally went home, it took us almost two hours to get back because of how bad traffic was.
They have pretty much one main road that goes through the mountains with one lane for each direction. The roads were up and down and winding around and it was super foggy, misty, and dark out – so traffic was slow and buses kept stopping on the side of the road and blocked traffic. We were exhausted when we came home because it’d been like a 12 hour day. We ate dinner at the hotel and then went straight to bed.
This was a long day, but the next day we headed into the Amazon!