A Travellerspoint blog

Quito to Baños

Baños -- The Land of Baths

Realized I haven´t created an update recently so here goes...

The week after the Galapagos trip I stayed in Quito. Caught up on some rest and took some more Spanish lessons, since I need all the help I can get. I did make a quick journey with Flat Stanley to Midad del Mundo, the ecuator line. There is some dispute between a couple of neighboring musuems/monuments to where the equator actually lies. Here is a photo of Stanley straddling the equator at the official monument.

TJT_1005_J..ley_Web.jpg

The other monument had some pretty cool experiments where they demonstrated water draining from a tub counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and straight down on the Equator line. Hope I got that right.

I got tired of the cloudy, rainy, cold weather and traffic & smog in Quito. Decided to head south to Baños. So named because of all the thermal baths caused by the nearby volcanoes. It´s a very small town located in the Andes about 4 hours south of Quito. Very small, very safe and much, much warmer. I haven´t had to wear a sweater or warm jacket yet at night in Baños. Great stuff.

I´ve been spending most of my time hiking, mt biking or generally exploring the town and the surrounding waterfalls.
SSCN0077.jpgSSCN0072.jpgTJT_1160.jpgSSCN0076.jpgTJT_1131.jpg

Still practicing my Spanglish. I went to get a haircut the other day and unwittingly walked into a kid´s haircut shop. It took me two minutes of spanish & charades to explain to the senorita that I was a kid at heart still. She laughed, took pity on me and cut my hair.

Here is a view from my hostel balcony of the Virgin Santa Maria waterfalls. Earlier in the day I dropped my laundry off next door to be done and ironically the laundry in the photo is mine. Didn´t realize it until I looked at the picture on the computer screen.TJT_1182.jpg

A few more days in Baños and then on the Cuenca, Loja, Vilcabamba and Peru.

Still having fun!!!

Posted by timtheis 16:41 Comments (1)

Galapagos Trip

8 days & 7 nights on the Nemo I

The Galapagos were in a word AMAZING. Tons of fun making new friends and exploring the islands. I found a last minute discounted fare in Quito at a travel shop. Paid & booked my trip on Friday at noon and two days later was on a catamaran in the Galapagos Islands. Our boat held only 12 passengers so it was a very small group which was great for making new friends and exploring the islands with our naturalist guide, Andre.

During the week we averaged two daily hikes and two daily snorkels. Saw all kinds of wildlife. Iguanas, turtles, tortoises, flamingos, dolphins, rays, sharks and tons of fish.

The snorkeling was simply incredible. We saw so many different kinds of fish. Swam with a 10 foot black manta ray which was definitely a highlight for me. We also swam with some large sharks, although I got out of the water pretty quick after that encounter.

I´ll let the attached pictures speak for themselves.
You can find some additional higher resolution pictures at the link to my website, just click on the Galapagos Images link.
http://timtheis.exposuremanager.com/g/south_america

Cheers,
Tim

TJT_0941_-_Web.jpgTJT_0935_-_Web.jpgTJT_0951_-_Web.jpgTJT_0955_-_Web.jpg143692 TJT_0957_-_Web.jpgTJT_0973_-_Web.jpgTJT_0978_-_Web.jpgTJT_0983_-_Web.jpg

Posted by timtheis 17:42 Comments (1)

Second Week of School

Next up Galapagos Islands

This past week has been pretty routine in Quito. School every morning. Homework every afternoon and evening. Starting to make some progress with the help of my teacher Arturo. He has plenty of patience with me and my broken Spanish. Included a couple of pictures of Arturo along with my amigo, Flat Stanley.

Tim__Artur..Stanley.jpg
Arturo_and_Stanley.jpg

One noteworthy event this past week was a soccer match I attended on Wednesday. Liga vs Arsenal Argentina. Liga is the local team in Quito and both are champions of their respective leagues. I´ve been to several games in the US even including a World Cup match. They all paled in comparison to the excitement at this game. The chants started just before the game and expect for a small break during half-time continued until the game was over. It was so loud you couldn´t even hear the planes flying directly over the stadium from the airport less than a mile away.

I went with a friend from the language school and a young man from her homestay house. Luckily he sort of lead us around Estadio Casa Blanca, Liga´s home stadium. We took our seats before the game and noticed that our section in the end zone was completely fenced in with barbed wire. Shortly before the game the riot police all started creating a line in our section between the seats and the field. Lots of excitement during the game. Liga won 6-1. Each time Liga scored kids would rush through the police, climb the barbed wire fencing and shake the fence & shoot off fire extinguishers into the crowd. My grey hair soon turned completely white since Liga was scoring so much but by the end of the game I could follow along with the chants they shouted after each Liga goal. Very exciting time. No pictures to share unfortunately. Just great memories.

I´ll be leaving Sunday, March 30th to travel to the Galapagos Islands. Found a good last minute fare on a boat called the Nemo I. A catamaran that hold 12 passengers, sailing for eight days and seven nights. Yahoo.

Adios,
Tim

Posted by timtheis 08:04 Comments (0)

Bus Ride to Chugchilan

Just like a Six Flags Adventureland Ride Only Real Life

0 °F

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the bus ride from Latacunga to Chugchilan in passing. Just got some photos from my friends Jason and Joanna that captured the event so I wanted to share on my blog. Thanks J´s for the photos and great memories. Check out their blog if you have the time as it is very well written. Kudos. http://dirtydawg.travellerspoint.com/

Our story begins innocently enough at the bus terminal in Latacunga. We pay our $2.50 for...a 3 hour tour (cue up the Gilligan´s Island theme) and board the bus. A regular Greyhound type bus, like in the USA only about 40+ years older. We are relegated to the seats farthest in the back by the co-pilot. Yes, buses in Ecuador have co-pilots just like airplanes but with different duties as you will learn if you stay with the story. I think we received the seats of dishonor in the back because my backpack wouldn´t fit in the overhead space. Managed to jam it above our seats but lived in fear that a sudden stop would launch my pack against the back of our heads.

The first couple of hours went by innocently enough. We continously picked up passengers along the roadside until the aisle was almost full of people standing. After we left Laguna Quilitoa, the once paved road quickly detoriorated into a muddy, one lane quagmire. We are now at about 12,000+ ft elevation, in the Andes, in a rain shower and riding in a passenger bus down the muddy road. The windows were consistently fogged up from all the humidity. Jason, Joanna and I all learned that an important duty of the co-pilot was to continously wipe the inside of the windshield with a dirty towel so the driver could see the road.

Now the real fun begins. Mountains straight up on one side of the muddy road, a steep dropoff on the other side of the muddy road. Hmm. Going around a sharp corner, the back of the bus fishtailed around and luckily hit the side of the mountain. Remember we were sitting in the very back, the part that obviously hit the mountain. Joanna was sitting right by the rearmost window. The Andean women all started to get nervous and muttering what I suppose were prayers. The three gringos in the back of the bus started to get very nervous. We fishtailed again a few moments later and luckily hit the mountain side once more and just kept on going. Afterwards we were thankful for the fogged up windows blocking our view.

We eventually reached the top of a crest and the bus headed down very slowly. All the locals stood up and tried to see out, like they knew what was potentially ahead of us. Thankfully we really couldn´t see from the back. A significant creek was running across the road. The bus driver tried several times to manuever across but in the end got stuck. The bus couldn´t move forward or backward.

thumb_IMG_3972_1_.jpg

Everyone got off the bus in the rain, which had thankfully turned into just a sprinkle at this point. We all found bushes to take a bio break since everyone just about had the you know what scared out of us by that point. I began to ponder my decision of traveling in South America (probably won't be the last time)

thumb_IMG_3967_1_.jpg

Jason, Joanna and I started weighing our options of walking the rest of the way to Chugchilan but we had now clue as to how far we still had to go. Everyone was standing around scratching their heads. An Andean woman, who had an infant strapped to her back with a knitted shawl, proceeded to climb a trail up the side of the creek/waterfall into the mountains. She disappeared from view a few moments later into the rain and fog. She was wearing low-heeled shoes and her infant couldn´t have been more than three or four months old. We guessed she knew exactly were she was in the world. We were the lost gringos.

We know learned that an additional duty of the bus co-pilot was to rally the men to help unstick the bus. Everyone started moving rocks, logs, etc under the wheels to get some traction. The co-pilot tied a rope to the back of the bus. The theory was that all the men pull backwards, while the driver guns the engine in reverse to free the bus.

thumb_IMG_3974_1_.jpg

That´s Jason at the end of the rope and me in the green jacket and brown pants. After several failed attempts the co-pilot realized that perhaps pulling a bus uphill worked against the laws of physics. While he tied the rope to the front of the bus, Jason and I noticed that the rear tires had absolutely no tread whatsoever. In fact, the steel belts were showing through in several places. We decided that was probably a contributing factor to our current predicament.

With the rope tied to the front of the bus, some of us pulled, others pushed from the back. After rocking back and forth several times we managed to get the bus free and back on the road. Everyone reboarded the bus and for some reason was in high spirits. Maybe to be out of the rain, maybe to be making postive progress down the road. We were still worried a little about what might lie ahead but we eventually made it to Chugchilan safe and sound.

Here is a photo of a section of the road I took the following day. Some smaller trucks got stuck trying to go up the section we drove/slide down in our passenger bus.

TJT_0164.jpg

In South America, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends...

Posted by timtheis 16:33 Comments (0)

Photos

Shameless Self Promotion Plug

Just as a heads up to everyone, I have started loading some higher quality photos to my website.

This blog site unfortunately limits the amout of data(photos) that I can upload each month. Really I can´t complain since the blog site is free!

Follow this link to the South America Page on my website to see some additional photos.

http://timtheis.exposuremanager.com/g/south_america

Just so you don´t think I forgot my friend Flat Stanley. Here is a picture of us overlooking Quito from the Virgin Mary Statue.

TJT_0283_2..sion_1_.jpg

Adios,
Tim

Posted by timtheis 15:22 Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 31) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 »