BootsnAll Travel Network

We’ve Moved

August 6th, 2009

Our blog, that is.

While I’m still working on moving old entries, from now on we’ll be writing new entries on our own website, where we’ll have some more flexibility for design, and other, non-blog content. Update your links and feeds.

The new site is Our RSS feed can be subscribed to at

A new entry about our recent weekend bike trip can now be found there.



March 5th, 2009

We’ve been home for a few weeks now, and have finally gotten all of our pictures online. Our attempts at creating a group to pool both our pictures at haven’t really worked out – I can’t put them in order – so they’re on our individual pages.
Neil’s pictures
Kathy’s pictures

A few favourites are below

Juvenile Galapagos Hawk
Juvenile Galapagos Hawk

Blue Footed Booby
Blue Footed Booby

Kathy biking down the Volcano
Kathy biking down the Volcano

Male frigate bird
Male frigate bird

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February 15th, 2009

Yesterday we biked down Cotopaxi. Despite a bit of rain – including some sleet while we were at the top of our ride, just shy of 15,000 feet, it was a lot of fun with extraordinary scenery and would have made an outstanding end to our trip.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. We arrived back in Quito and got to the airport with plenty of time to spare…around 4:00, a good 3 hours before our flight was scheduled to depart. It was raining, which had never really occurred to me as a problem and I enjoyed watching the planes take off streaming water behind.

When our plane arrived, there was immediately something off. Several vehicles with flashing lights came out, and I saw some grab something that looked like an air tank – I later figured out it was an acetylene tank for welding…they were making some kind of adjustment to the front landing gear. Whatever it was, it didn’t work. We sat and sat, and waited. The word was that we couldn’t take off because the runway was too wet, despite the other planes doing precisely that.

At one point, the airport did close entirely, for about 30 or 40 minutes. As far as I can tell, though, ours was the only flight that didn’t leave at all. Finally at 10pm, they collected passengers connecting to Toronto, and attempted to make alternate arrangements. Although Air Canada can book Avianca flights they are not formally partners, and Avianca was entirely clueless about what to do. They did speak to Air Canada in Bogota, but all they did was refer everyone to an 800 number that was only open during the day. Eventually, the Avianca employee who was “helping” us wandered off, never to be seen again.

Us and the two other Canadians with the same connection headed back to a hotel…getting ripped off by cab drivers in the process – us for $10, the other couple for $20. But at that time of night, there’s not much to be done…there weren’t many cabs around.

I spent most of the morning on the phone with Air Canada, and they’ve rebooked us (charging for the process, because it was an Avianca problem, but Avianca was basically unable or unwilling to help us…we will be seeking a refund for that when we return.) So now we’ll be arriving back in Edmonton on Wednesday night, after some long layovers – 12 hours in Bogota (I asked for that because I did not want a similar situation to crop up again), and 13 hours in Toronto…which I didn’t ask for, and am a bit of a loss how there can be no earlier flights we could be on.

So we’ll be home late Wednesday. Not what we’d planned, and unfortunately not enough time to leave Quito, which we’re pretty sick of. Normally, I don’t look forward to a trip ending, but this time, I’m definately ready to go home.


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The Inaccessible Andes

February 11th, 2009

After Baños, we were ready for a quieter place. Cities and towns of all sizes here are very noisy. So we headed off on what the guidebooks describe as the Quilotoa loop, basically just a series of mountain roads roughly making a circle through some fairly remote regions. Our destination, Chigchulán, was only about 80km away from Baños as the crow flies, but required about 6 hours by bus, not counting the 30 minute delay while they added branches to shore up the mudslide so it could be driven over.

As it’s quiet we wanted, we were not disappointed. We opted to stay at a fairly pricey ecolodge called the Black Sheep Inn (Fairly pricey in our case meaning it cost $65/night for the two of us in a shared room with full board.) It was an amazing setting. The inn was about a kilometre from town, which only houses about 100 people anyway, so it was fantastically quiet, and from everywhere – room, balcony, bathroom, yoga room, outside, etc… – you could see across a lovely canyon and set of plateaus, all green, except two peaks you could see in the distance if it was extraordinarily clear.

Our first day there, we got ambitious and attempted a hike. The directions they gave us described it as about 2-1/2 hours to the cloud forest. It turns out that hiking uphill when your starting point is over 10,000 feet high is tiring. After 3 hours, we were about 2/3 of the way to our goal, and we decided it was time to turn back. No cloud forest on this trip, unfortunately. We did get some rewarding views. We tried coming back by a different route – taking a path up over a ridge the overlooks our inn, which was marked as an easy hike on the map – and managed to get ourselves lost. We could see where we wanted to go, but couldn’t figure out how to get there. A wrong turn took us down onto private property immediately above our hosts’, but the owner was of the opinion that it was his trail and we were not going to cross. So we had to climb back up to the top and try again, ending up on an extraordinarily steep slope that was no good for Kathy’s ankles (and knees, not to mention Neil’s paranoid fear of heights!).

The next day we were not so ambitious. I finished my book, and we walked over to watch the sheep and chickens in the yard.

Getting into Chigchulán is much easier than getting out from it. The busses going there leave from Latacunga at 11:30 and 12 every day, arriving around 3:30-5pm. The busses leaving go at 3am and 4am, and 5am on Wednesdays. We are not morning people. So we splurged and spent the $30 to hire a truck to take us as far as Zimbahua, where there is hourly bus service back to Latacunga, which is on the Panamerican Highway. We also threw in a stop at Laguna Quilotoa, one of the famous things to see in Ecuador. While the view there is also fabulous, I wouldn’t mind sticking to the postcard. The lake is a volcanic crater, and the rim where the hikes start is about 14,000 ft above sea level, and it’s pretty inhospitable up there. Icy cold and windy. So we ended up skipping our intended hike, though two others from our hotel were doing the whole 6-7 hours around the rim, which seems nuts to me. We did, however, buy ourselves some alpaca wool scarves, and a sweater for Kathy.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt guiltier about a purchase. Normally it’s the price that bothers me, but I felt what we paid was fair. But I’m at a loss to understand why touristy places always feature long rows of stalls of maybe 10 or 20 people all selling exactly the same thing. One woman didn’t have a sweater in Kathy’s size and a colour we wanted, and ended up almost begging us to buy something from her. It made me feel terrible, but at the same time, you can’t buy from everybody, so what can you do.

We’re back in Quito now, after yet another long day of transportation. There’s many lovely things about Ecuador, but I have been frustrated that no matter how far apart things are, it seems to take about 6 hours of tiring bus travel to get to where you’re going. From here, we’ll try to do a biking trip to Cotopaxi on Friday, and on Saturday night we fly home.


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Horses, Volcanoes and Kitsch in Baños

February 7th, 2009

Baños on a Cloudy Morning
Baños on a Cloudy Morning

We´ve been in Baños for a couple of days, and have spent some of that time resting in the very nice room we found – it overlooks a lovely garden, and has plenty of hot water! Baños hasn´t quite been the town that I expected it to be – instead of being a sleepy tourist town in a quiet and beautiful mountain setting, it is a noisy, trafficy town in a beatiful mountain setting. Many of the tourists here appear to be Ecuadorian – we had heard that it´s a popular weekend destination for ‘Quiteños’, and it most certainly appears to be. There are odd theme-park style trains running around the town in the evening, complete with loud theme-park music. Lots of motorbikes, quads, and dunebuggies, which do look like a lot of fun, but are quite noisy. I´m kind of thinking it’s like the Ecuadorian Disney-land (it even has weird Disney character heads on top of the garbage cans). It’s an interesting town, to be sure, but not the serene town I was for some odd reason expecting.

It has been an enjoyable stay, as the setting is really lovely, the air mostly fresh (when cars aren´t zooming by), and today we went horseback riding for a few hours with a lovely guide and nice quiet horses, that didn’t try to throw us off – always a plus. We even saw the volcano smoking – not sure if it was a lot or a little bit, as we have no frame of reference, but it was still neat to see.

Tomorrow we are off again, this time to an even more remote, and much higher, Andean village (Chilchugán), along what´s called the ‘Quilotoa Loop’. Hopefully tomorrow’s bus ride won’t be quite as white-knuckled as the last. The distance certainly isn’t vast (maybe about 200km or so), but the whole trip is expected to take about 6 hours. The thrill of the ride really depends on the driver. Third time’s the charm?

We’ve booked a couple of beds at a wonderful (though a bit pricy) place called the Black Sheep Inn – I am looking forward to hopefully a few nights of peace and tranquility and stars (to be fair, we did have a few nights of this on the boat in the Galapagos, too).

We expect to be heading back to Quito on Wednesday, where we will try to book a day tour to Cotopaxi (another park with a volcano in it), where we wish to tear down the side on mountain bikes. 😀 And who knows what else we might get up to.

We probably won´t have internet again until Wednesday. We´ll post again in a few days!


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Mad Dash to Cuenca

February 4th, 2009

Fields of the Ecuadorian Lowlands
Fields of the Ecuadorian Lowlands

When we’d booked our flights to the Galapagos, we’d arranged to fly back into Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. While it sounds like there is a lovely riverfront promenade and some neat historical districts, Guayaquil itself wasn’t really the attraction, just where the flight lands. Mostly, we’d heard great things about Cuenca, which is a good 12 hour bus ride from Quito, but only a mere 3-1/2 from Guayaquil. Theoretically.

When we’d booked them, we’d intended to spend a night in Guayaquil and then head up into the Andes the next day, but having just had a one night stay on San Cristobal, we weren’t really up for another night of just unpacking our bags so that we could pack again. We decided that though it would make for a long day, we’d head straight through to Cuenca.

Since our flight from the Galapagos didn’t leave until 12:45 – no planes overnight in the islands, so we had to wait for a flight from the mainland to come in – and there was an hour time difference, we weren’t out of the airport in Guayaquil until about 3:45. The Guayaquil bus station is basically right around the corner from the airport, so we figured we could be on our way quickly. No such luck. The bus station was basically a really big mall, except with a multilevel bus parking garage on either side. You’d think the location of the ticket offices would be obvious, but that would be asking a bit much…you have to walk the entire length of the building on the main floor, and the only signs are pointing you to the departure areas. So we didn’t get on a bus until 4:30.

The ride was great, though. We were able to see a bit of the lowlands, where there is a lot of agriculture. Most identifiable were the many banana plantations, but they grow watermellon and various other fruits there, too. It was sunset as we started climbing the Andes. A steep climb, as Guayaquil is at sea level, and Cuenca is at 2500m – plus there’s a pass in the middle that’s even higher. The road was kind of sketchy, as it only seemed to be paved sometimes, snakes around like crazy and guardrails were a rare sight. Our bus driver, happily, was not as crazy as some we’ve heard about, and didn’t push the bus to the limit. There was one area washed out in a mudslide that we had to drive around on a temporary bypass road. It also turns out that the 3.5-4 hours is an optimistic estimate of how long the ride is – it took about 4.5 hours, but we got here safely. It was really remarkable to see, along the mountainous road to Cuenca: houses, the odd cafe, and various assorted other buildings, built right on the precipice – it really looked like if you tried to stumble home drunk one night, and took a couple of wrong steps, you might just topple over the edge. Some of them looked abandoned, so maybe that’s what happenned?

Cuenca is quite a lovely city, but it’s kind of ruined by the cars. It’s only a city of 400,000 people, but the traffic is crazy, and there’s almost nowhere you can get away from it. The pollution is quite tangible – the smell of exhaust lingers everywhere. We’ve seen far fewer busses here than in Quito – which has a similar city layout – so we’ve been theorizing that the traffic disaster is a result of poor public transit. It’s also a little baffling, since I figure you can probably take taxis everywhere for very little money – $1-$3 for most parts of the city – and I figure that you can take an awful lot of taxi trips for the cost of owning a car.

Acclimatizing to the altitude has been a bit of a challenge. You’d think that being at sea level for a week wouldn’t do that much damage, as we had already spend some time even higher up in Quito. But you’d be wrong. Earlier today, we were actually getting a bit dizzy, but after a nap (and lots of food and water!), that seems to have passed. We’ve done a lot of walking though, and I don’t suppose it helps that we picked the hostel on the 6th floor (7th floor by Canadian reckoning, since ground floors here are not numbered) and the lift is broken.

We’re off again tomorrow, this time aiming for Baños, a popular hotspring town a couple hundred km north of here. We’ll stick around to see a bit of the market in the morning, but should be on the road before noon, since we’re told it’s about 8 hours by bus.


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Swimming with the Sharks, amongst other things

February 2nd, 2009

Sea Lions at Bartolome
Sea Lions at Bartolome

Our past few days on a boat have been fantastic. The scenery and animals have been fantastic, as has been the food and the snorkelling.

Day 1

Our schedule worked out well, since the boat had gone to the Darwin centre in the morning, something we’d already done, and in the afternoon the Santa Cruz highlands were on the schedule. The main attraction was the tortoise sanctuary, basically just some private property that has ideal conditions and lots of food for the tortoises, but with open access to the national park. Our guide talked about how the tortoises had been decimated during the 18th and 19th centuries, when they were a popular food supply for pirates. Since the tortoises can live for up to a year without eating, they can be a fresh source of meat when a ship doesn’t have many ports it can safely stop in for resupply. It’s estimated that about 300,000 tortoises were taken or killed during this period, and since they have such long lives – 150-200 years or so – recovering the population is a slow process.

Also on tap was a walk through a lava tube – basically just a cave, though interesting in that it was almost as perfectly regular and about the same size as a subway tunnel.

Day 2

For our first uninhabited island, we stopped at North Seymour, just north of the airport on Baltra. Don’t ask me where South Seymour is, I have no idea. The island itself wasn’t overly interesting, as it was covered by similar vegetation as the Santa Cruz lowlands. However, it was an island with no history of Iguanas until the ’30s, when scientists of the time figured that they must have been wiped out by some sort of calamity, so they introduced them from Baltra. This was good, since later the conversion of Baltra in a US military base during WWII killed off the iguanas native to that island, and they’ve been able to reintroduce them using the new population on N. Seymour. However, though the plants look the same, they’re far less resilient to iguanas, and they haven’t been doing so well. Estevan, our guide, told us that once the population on Baltra was large enough to self-sustain, they’d go through and remove all the iguanas that remained on N. Seymour.

Then came snorkelling time, which was fantastic. The visibility was great, and there was a bit of everything on the bottom. The most common fish in these parts is a large flat fish with a yellow tail, which we later learned was called a yellowtail surgeonfish. Also, we saw a cornetfish (a long, almost clear, tube-like fish), a stingray, sea lions, and a white-tipped shark. And loads of various colourful fish. It was fantastic. Though Kathy would like to mention that while snorkeling off a Zodiak seems practical, getting back in isn’t a skill that everyone possesses.

While making our crossing to the second stop, Bartolome, we had the real treat. Our ship ran into a pod of dolphins, and they came to investigate the boat. The snap decision was made to go snorkelling right there, at a random spot in the middle of the pacific. So we did. To be honest, the dolphins are far more interested in boats than people, so the view from in the water wasn’t as good as it was on the boat, but the crew used the zodiacs to attract some, and it was good. The sounds of dolphins under the water are quite different and more melodic than the squeaks you hear on the surface. Stay tuned for the fantastic dolphin pictures taken from the boat.

At Bartolome, we snorkelled again, this time with penguins. The cold water currents allow this very northerly species of penguin to live on 4 islands in the archipelago. Again sharks and stingrays, which seem to be everywhere in these islands. Like everywhere else, the sea lions are everyone. A couple of large ones had planted themselves on the beach, right in the midst of another group of visitors.

The land trip to Bartolome wasn’t all that interesting. It’s mostly lifeless, as the volcanic rock contains too much magnesium to support most species. One of the two types of plants we saw was a type of cactus which breaks up the rocks, allowing more life to move in. Eventually – like maybe a couple million years – you might be able to see similar species on Bartolome to the other islands. The landscape is kind of neat, though – from the top of the island looking down, it’s much easier to see the volcanic tuffs and dried lava flows – it really does look like it erupted only recently.

Day 3

For our last full day on the boat, we had stops at Plazas and Santa Fe islands. No snorkelling at Plazas, just a land trip with much the same species of cactus as elsewhere. The land iguanas were out in force here, as were the dove-tailed gulls. Many pictures of those to come when we get home. Once again, the sea lions were everywhere – we had to step over one on the small dock, just to get back into the Zodiak. They really seem as though they couldn’t care less about all the people around them.

Santa Fe was a bit more interesting. The cactuses there grow taller than elsewhere, making them harder for the iguanas to get at the food. So a unique species of land iguana evolved there. It is a different colour than the usual land iguana, but the main difference is that it is territorial, which most iguanas don’t seem to be. This was, all it has to do is wait for fruit to drop from the cactii in its territory, and then eat once it’s on the ground.

This was our last snorkel stop, and it was again amazing. The bay where we snorkelled had maybe 30 or 40 eagle rays just kind of swimming in circles. The eagle rays are much more majestic and active than stingrays which are just kind of bloblike and sit on the bottom. There’s also a small reef there that is a popular resting stop for sea turtles. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually find the reef while we were in the water, but we did run into a (very large) turtle while we were returning to the boat. I was also very startled when two huge sea lions swam past me at full tilt. Kathy thinks swimming with sharks and rays is just a wee bit intimidating, even if the real danger is minimal.

Day 4

Which brings us to today. Our last excursion as part of the cruise was a bit disappointing, as it was just a visit to the interpretive centre at San Cristobal, which pretty much reiterated much of what our guide was telling us. And I couldn’t quite figure it out, but I think that the part on sustainable tourism was trying to tell us that tourists should spend more money, and that would make it more sustainable. Kind of fuzzy logic if you ask me.

Anyway, we’re flying back to the mainland tomorrow. We’ve decided not to stay in Guayaquil, since it just means another one night stop, which I don’t think we really want right now, so instead we’ll probably just get straight on a bus for Cuenca. That also means just one long travel day, instead of two shorter ones.


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A’Sailing we will go

January 30th, 2009

Just a quick note to say that we are boarding the boat today, the Estrella del Mar II, and will be back on solid ground come Monday. Don’t expect to hear from us until Tuesday evening, when we’ll be back in Guayaquil (on the mainland), though maybe if we’re lucky we’ll find some ‘net on Monday.

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Dancing in the sand and sea

January 29th, 2009

Giant Tortoise
Giant Tortoise

We arrived in the Galapagos on Tuedsay morning, and have been having a great time. The first night we stayed in a not so nice motel type place, but have since moved to a very nice hotel, complete with air conditioning and hot water – aren’t we spoiled!

We were planning on travelling over to Isabela island, but decided against it for less travel time, and more bumming around time. It was a good decision.

The first day we pretty much walked around town, got a feel for the place, watched the local wildlife – pelicans, sea lions, marine iguanas, crabs, etc. We took a walk over to the Charles Darwin research station, which was nice, but crowded with tour groups (one of which I’m sure we’ll be a part of on Friday). We got to walk through a couple of enclosures with the giant tortoises, and got some really nice pictures (as above). The better photos will come once we’ve returned home, as the files from the Canon are very large, and cumbersome to upload, and we’re not sure that these computers can handle raw image files. Unfortunately, there were a couple of tour groups at the centre that were not really obeying the ‘don’t get too close to the animals’ rule, and were getting right up close and personal to one tortoise in particular so they could all have their pictures taken.

The town of Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz (the main island), has a very nice small town feel to it, despite all the tourism (ie, gift shops and overpriced tourist restaurants). The people have been very friendly and welcoming, and have been humouring us with our broken and minimal Spanish. Though we are improving. Today is our last full day on Santa Cruz, and we’ve finally figured out where all the local restaurants are hiddden – sort of on a side street a few blocks away from the main strip. We had a set lunch there today, including pop, for $8, which is less than what one main dish costs at most of the restaurants on the main strip. And it was quite good.

Yesterday, we switched hotels and signed up for a snorkel trip. About 20 minutes or so out by motorboat, to a small island, and along the way we watched marine iguanas swimming in the bay, and saw a couple of blue footed boobies along the rocks. The snorkeling was really nice, once I got over my water panic (tends to happen with me every time I try diving or snorkelling – it takes a few minutes to convince my mind that I CAN actually breath under water). We saw many colourful fish, including a large school of them that swam all around us – what a neat experience. The second stop we made was near a small cove – we swam around the rock outcropping, then got out and climbed over some rocks (not easy in bare feet!), and back into the cove, where we swam near sharks and tortoises! We missed the tortoises, though our guide borrowed the underwater camera (thanks Beth!!), and hopefully we’ll get a picture. We did see the sharks, and I must say, that’s a bit of a freaky experience. They were about 1 to 1.5 meters in length – not huge, but not exactly small either.

The last stop was at another part of Santa Cruz, where we hiked a bit to see some sea lions, and many marine iguanas, sunning themselves on rocks. We got to see what the inside of a large cactus looks like, and I regret that we didn’t have the camera to take a picture – the inside looks a bit like a beehive, except instead of individual cells, the cells are formed by long ligaments that touch in intervals all the way up the stock. Very fibrous.

All in all, sunburn aside, it was a very fulfilling day. The water was fairly warm, and wildlife amazing, and the excercise felt good. The air is clean and fresh, and we’ve been taking a very relaxing pace. And the air conditioned room has done us worlds of good!


Thus far, coming here has been a great experience. There’s all sorts of amazing animals around. Today we took a walk to the beach, an hour long slog which was great fun going out at 8:30, when the sun was still low in the sky. There were chirping birds that will come right up to you (I later had trouble with one at the beach that wanted to land on my foot – not the most comfortable experience). They even seem to be happy to pose for pictures. At the first beach along the path (you can’t swim there, due to currents), there were probably 30 or so marine iguanas hanging out sunning themselves. They’re really strange creatures to watch, as they kind of waddle to get around. The iguanas at that beach were probably the most active we’ve seen, since most seem to prefer just to stick to their rocks and sun themselves ’til the tide comes in. The walk back at noon was not nearly as fun, as the sun was overhead in full force – we were happy to get back to our A/C and shower.

We’re off on our cruise tomorrow. We’ll see how well it goes…we’re a little concerned we might end up with a tour group with whom we have absolutely nothing in common – a lot of the cruises seem to be filled with people who freak out when they get asked a question they don’t know the answer to. Either way, though, it’ll be a great chance to see some of the other islands.


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Adventures in a New City

January 26th, 2009

We awoke today to pouring rain. Pouring.

The rain stopped around 10, about the time we stepped off the most sardine-packed tram I have ever ridden in my life. But that’s part of the adventure. We wandered around Mariscal Sucre, also known by some as Gringoland, or the tourist district. Travel agencies abound! We were in search of one, though one in particular that had been recommended. We did inquire at the travel agency located in the hostel, but didn’t think the offered deals were really great.

We ended up at the Galasam travel agency, where we booked our Galapagos cruise – 4 days on a first class boat, for $700 USD each. That was a much better deal than others we’d seen, albeit a day shorter than we were hoping for. I think she said regular price for this was $1300. She offered us 8 days, which would have been great, for $2200 each – and that was the last minute deal. Ouch.

So we leave for the Galapagos first thing tomorrow morning, will spend a couple of nights on our own on a couple of the islands (there are local boat ferries between some), then hop on the cruise on Friday morning. Yay! We’ll also get one extra night on the island of San Cristobal at the end, and fly out from there.

We’ve also changed our plan a little bit, in that instead of flying back to Quito afterward, we will instead fly to Guayaquil, then maybe make our way over to Cuenca, which we initially thought we wouldn’t have time for. From there we’ll head north, making our way slowly back to Quito. There is the possibility of a brief jungle excursion, but we haven’t figured that out yet.

After the travel agent, we wandered about Mariscal for a bit – very different from the old town, and more… European. Not nearly as distinct or unique or interesting, not to mention more expensive. Spent some time in a botanical garden. Nice, but nothing special. Ate lunch at the mall – it was close by – the neat little places that are found in the old town are harder to find near Mariscal.

Later in the afternoon, we made our way back to the old town, to try and cash our traveller’s cheques (the cruise deal was cash only – draining our reserves). The one bank that had been recommended wasn’t able to do it, so she told us to go to another bank. 20 minutes in line later, we were told they couldn’t do it – go to the cash exchange. Well, if we’d known the banks couldn’t do it, we would have started there, but we were hoping to get (and were told we could get) a lower change fee. Oh well. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. A lot of people everywhere, but not very pushy. And people are helpful, despite the language barrier. We can understand some of it, and can mostly communicate what we need, but there are still situations where all we can do is look confused.

We took several cab rides today (one sardine experience was enough for me for one day, and we don’t think we can figure out the buses). They are easy to get, and cheap. So far, it’s been a pretty easy experience. Nothing overly challenging, though maybe a bit frustrating.

So we’re off to Galapagos tomorrow! We’re not sure what internet facilities will be like – I know they are plentiful on Santa Cruz, but we’re going to try to get the ferry straight to Isabella, and there I’m not sure.

So basically, if you don’t hear from us for a few days, don’t worry! (though you probably will hear from us)


Kathy has completely neglected to mention much about our wanderings on Sunday. Basically we just went out for a walk in search of lunch, and ended up wandering the old city for most of the afternoon. Eventually our wanderings took us past an irresistable smell. Lunch was extra cheap – $1 each – but the crab soup that Kathy ordered ended up just having half a crab sitting in it staring back at her. I went for the somewhat less adventurous pork chop with rice, and was pleased with that decision.

Sunday is biking day in these parts. I’d heard a lot before about Bogota’s experiment in closing the streets to traffic on Sundays, and Quito has a toned down version of that. There are still some cars out – and of course busses and taxis, naturally – but a lot of the lanes are open only to cyclists. Loads of people participate, making walking almost a little hazardous. There’s watering stations all over the place, and we saw one tent that looked like it was free bike repair.

It’s been great here so far, and we’re sure excited about the islands tomorrow


Oh, yeah – and I bought a coconut from a guy with a wheelbarrow full – I thought I was going to eat it, he’d peeled it and everything, but instead he stuck a straw in it, and I had coconut milk! 😀


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