Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Into Ecuador

After taking a brief respite from life on the road, Matt and I bid farewell to Colombia's coffee region and approached what we were warned was one of the most dangerous borders on the planet.  After many police checkpoints and luggage searches, rerouting of the bus route due to a possible car bomb, and the usual incredibly confusing bus terminal changes, we arrived exhausted but safe in Ecuador.  The first stop was Odovallo, a high mountain indiginious town that hosts the largest market in the continent every Saturday.  A morning spent honing my bartering skills in the midst of countless food, artisan crafts, and livestock sales, and I soon had filled my backpack completely.  No more markets for me!

From there, we spent a day in Quito, before escaping the sprawling chaos of the capitol city for the more remote mountain town of Latatunga.  Surrounded by active and inactive volcanoes, we got a few days of great trekking in.  Next, we´re planning on checking out the thermal springs in Banos and possibly volunteering on a farm for a few days before heading to Peru.

It´s hard to believe the trip is already half over.  Time certainly flies, except for during this morning´s endless and over crowded bus ride which found me paying a terrible price for the folly of ingesting some questionable food items for breakfast.  I have been quite cavalier about eating just about everything up to this point, so I guess I deserved it.  Lessons learned: south american busses require an empty stomach and little to no regard for personal safety or space.

Colonial architecture is a trademark of Colombian towns
Picking up some steak for dinner
What looks funnier than a gringo walking around latin America in blue jeans, t shirt, and flip flops? A gringo walking around in blue jeans and native Ecuadorian clothing, of course.
All sorts of fruit and vegetables on offer at the market
View of Quito´s Basilica from our hostel
Hiking around the rim of a 12,000 + foot tall extint volcano
Getting our Indiana Jones on with some river crossings
A market speciality, extremely fresh (and grinning) roasted pork, cut and served to order
Unbeknownst to me, Ecuadorian dogs can fly
Despite being originally turned away for arriving after hours, a friendly security guard let Matt and I in to see the Natural History museam of Popayan, giving us a high speed personalized tour
The Santuario Las Lojas, just before the Colombian Ecuador border.
A small llama farmer´s shelter inside the volcano crater

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