Thursday, May 8, 2014

Yoo 602 - The Last of Ecuador

Our final day in Ecuador! Dawn struck Otavalo and this was the view from atop our hostel. I wish I'd had more time there because I wanted to explore the city and surrounds. But we had a market to hit! Alisha needed to buy all the things because it was her birthday. THIRTY YEARS OLD.

Laundry was strung out on paracord tied throughout the hostel room and Greg was down for the count with a migraine. I medicated and left him to rest while Alisha and I set off to market.

We passed at least 20 piles of poop (really) on our way there and I couldn't find a bakery to save my imploding stomach. I was so hungry I paid $3 for a chocolate crepe at some fancy street bistro. It was lame but life goes on.

The game plan was to hit the market early, buy all the things, explore Otavalo a bit, and then head back to Quito. Except we spent all morning at the market. It was a slow start and the market is huge, but once we found the sweet spot our game faces went on.

My bartering game wasn't A+ and there was this super wool llama blanket that I wanted with my whole heart because it was crazy but no one would sell it to me for $15. I ended up with a $6 rain stick, $15 fancy chess set, wooden nativity figures, and a few clothes for the baby we don't have. And a llama magnet.

I'd list what Alisha bought but suffice it to say, everything.

^^ another awesome $2 lunch...with coke to kill all the things ^^

A $1 taxi ride got us from the market back to the bus terminal and not 5 minutes later we were on a bus en route to Quito. I really love buses in Ecuador.

Then we kind of got ripped off for a $10 taxi ride to the equator, just north of Quito. The driver was nice though and actually had lived in Chicago for a while so he spoke good English. Greg and him talked excitedly about the NBA for the whole of the ride and Alisha and I snuck pictures from the back and talked about how glad we were that Greg could do all the talking.

^^ alisha, suddenly faced with complex packing problems due to excessive souvenirring ^^

^^ problems solved ^^

It's the equator! Except not really. This monument was built before they had GPS to tell where the actual equator is. It's actually a few hundred meters off.

We had to pay $3 to get in and the whole place is a tourist trap. But oh well. We got a really great dancing video on the equator wearing our huge packs that is quite the gem. I'll have to post it sometime.

^^ i think we're fighting over which half of the world we're going to be on? ^^

^^ the real equator! ^^

The people at the real equator (it has some fancy name...that i forgot) were not super friendly or helpful and the museum/demonstration cost an additional $4. I thought it was a better deal than the "fake" equator though.

Problem was it started pouring rain during our tour and we spent most of the time running back to save our stowed bags from a sudden waterfall and digging out the rain gear.

^^ balancing an egg on a nail ^^

^^ success ! ^^

They demonstrated the rotation of draining water on the equator, a couple meters south, and a couple meters north. It worked too! Right on the equator the water went straight down the drain. North and south drained counterclockwise and clockwise respectfully. I know there's debate and this can be random depending on different factors. But I saw it happen....

^^ soaked and repacking ^^

We snuck out of the tour early, had our complimentary umbrellas snatched back by an angry employee (he was not friendly!), stamped our passports at the equator, and then repacked for a jaunt in the rain. All while the hut we were taking cover in slowly became a lake.

^^ ecuador, we'll miss you too! ^^

We finished our equator explorations early evening and decided to just head to the airport for our morning flight. The "Quito" airport takes at least 90 minutes to get to from Quito and we didn't want to risk it. So we stood on a corner in the pouring rain waiting for a cheap taxi.

The first one that stopped wanted to charge us $50. A few seconds later another taxi driver hopped out, asked what the other driver wanted to charge us, and then offered $30. Sounds like a lot but it was a steal. We were in the back of that taxi for 2 hours! Totally worth it.

^^ time to leave ecuador...sad ^^

There was a nice restaurant with comfy booths and cheap food that became our home for the next couple hours. After we'd changed into "dry" clothes in the restrooms. Then it was time for bed on the bench below.

^^ long night. also, alisha in her technicolor dream coat. ^^

There were a couple dozen or so other airport sleepers so cushioned bench space was limited. Greg was on the floor and Alisha was curled up and had to be playing footsie with the guy passed out next to her. I was on the end with my head hanging off. They never did dim the lights and the cleaning guys were super loud for three straight hours and the radio was BLARING all thru the night. I didn't get much sleep and eventually traded Greg my bench spot for the floor. I curled up under a chair and actually was more comfortable.

At least the free wifi was decent.

^^ our accommodations ^^

An airport security guard came around at 5am and nudged all the airport sleepers awake, announcing that it was 5am. I don't know if that was a courtesy or if they were trying to get rid of us so the place looked better for day travelers...

^^ final sights in ecuador ^^

The flights back were fairly routine. Alisha almost lost her didgeridoo due to some weird baggage policy but it was safely recovered. We had a long layover in Mexico City again so we set off to explore the Zocalo.

It was absolutely packed. I just wanted to eat more delicious street food but it was Sunday and they were all closed. Eventually we found a restaurant that was open and looked decent. I'm also 100% certain that I found and ate at the same restaurant back in 2008 when I was in Mexico City on my travel study. Fun times!

Oh! We had a really fun experience buying bus tickets at the airport. There's a kiosk machine and it ate 50 pesos without loading our bus card! It was a sad day. We tried really hard to explain what had happened to our bus driver when he pulled up. This involved making sound effects to mimic the machine with the three of us interchangeably blurting out the few words we could come up with in Spanish. I'm pretty sure he didn't have a clue what we were trying to describe so we just went on with our lost pesos.

We traveled all day and got to Houston just before midnight. I NEEDED to brush my teeth and, thinking we were thru customs, dug out my toothbrush and went to town as we were walking out. Except I soon found out we hadn't made it all the way thru customs and I had to clear the passport check with a mouth full of toothpaste. Fun.

Then we drove all the way back to San Antonio and it was a super huge struggle to stay awake but I kept thinking about the furry face waiting for me and the excitement got me thru to the end.

He was so excited to see us!

I loved loved loved Ecuador and would go back. Even for my next vacation. I feel like there is so much more to see there, most of the people are so friendly, it's pretty cheap, and super fun. A variety of adventures!

My little sister is on her way to do a nursing rotation in Ecuador in a couple days and I'm so excited for her! I'll miss you Morgie but spoil your guts silly for the next month.

Have a great day :-)

1 comment:

Nicole Jessop said...

Is it bad that all I could focus on was the baby clothes for the baby you don't have yet? Aw! A Baby Teagan! That can be friends with Brae! Also, Kaylie brought back baby clothes from Mexico and they were DARLING. So fun for the babies.