Banos

I spent this last week end in Banos.

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Banos Is located on a little vally between two mountain, right at the base of the most active vulcano in ecuador.

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I did a treck down to several of the water falls.

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They also had a realy cool bridge you could jump off.

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I mett a number of american expats in banos. One owned a small micro brew bar and made real american burgers.

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It’s the little things ya’know.

Sunday, they had a local farmers market near the hostel.

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Filled with all kinds of shoppers

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Banos is a little touristy. So after two days I had to say good bye.

Take it easy,

Paul

Ps: Even though the local might be having a month long party, it doesn’t mean every procession is a parade. On a unrelated note: people dont apretiate tourist taking pictures of their funeral.

Quito

Hey guys, I decieded to do a little longer blog post recapping the last couple weeks. Here it is.

These last couple of weeks i’ve been hanging aroung Quito, Ecuador. “Why Quito?” you might ask. Well i have been looking to do a big trip to south america for quite awhile, and Quito is cheaper than Bogota.

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Quito is a big city. Though it doesnt have many buildings over 7 stories it crams 3 million people into the metro area. At 9,000ft it takes acouple of days to get use to the altitude. The weather is very mild, 50s-60s at night, and rises to 70 durring the day.

The first couple of days, I stayed in a hostel in the la marsceles district, in the northern part of Quito. Hostels are great places to hangout. Filled with travelers, anywhere between 18-30yrs in age, they are also great source of information. And if you are going for food, a trip to the old city, or a weekend excursion, you just have to ask around, and you can put together a group in 15min.

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The first couple of days i got my berings on the city, and made a trip into the old city, plaza grande and la basilica. Then made it to mitad del mundo (the equator) and on a tip from an american at the hostel, toured Pululahua.

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plaza grande

My original plan was to visit a couple schools then choose one. However at the hostal I met several people going to the Simion Bulivar school and when i visited, they were very perfessional, So i decided to go with them.

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I did one-on-one classes, which consisted of  two hours of convesation, and then two hours of grammer. After acouple of classes i decided that i know enought spanish/hand motions to get around south america. But not enough to hold a conversation.  This relieved a little of the preasure of expanding my vocabulary. I did spanish classes in the morning, then toured the city in the afternoons. It was durring these afternoons that I went to Capille de hombre, museo de cultural and el teleferico.

I uses the weekend to do bigger trips. But with big groups of people plans change fast. One weekend i was going to leave on saturday and spend the night in Pululahua, returning on sunday. But then i found out some guys at the hostel were doing a day trip to Cotopaxi Sunday morning. So early friday i decieded to go to pululahua friday night, hang out saturday and return saturday night so i could do Cotopaxi sunday morning. However i got a late start to Pululahua, that and getting on the wrong bus, led to not getting to the top of the crater until after dark. But after 10min of beating on a guard shacks door and 2km hike down later i made it down into pululahua.

Monday the 22nd, i started a homestay with a spanish speaking family. They had been hosting spanish students for 17yrs, they were an amazing family and the best help for my spanish.

After completing my secound week in Quito, i decides i had seen enough of the city, needed to move on. Friday i took a night bus to Banos, a town known for its hot springs, water falls, and extreme sports.

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Banos

Quito was fun but it was time to move on.

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Take it easy everone,

Paul

Graffiti

Like any urban city, Quito has it’s share of graffiti. While most of it is simple tagging  and disfacement, some are quite good.

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Some trancend the medium of paint and wall and are true art.

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Every once in a while you can find some good ones, while you walk around.

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Some are funny characters,

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Others are others are more dramatic.

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I dont condone graffiti, my mind does romantisize it.

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For the idea of an artist willing to break the law to tell his ideas is more compelling,

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than some bored teens, looking for amusement.

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Take it easy,

Paul

Ps: Mimes do not apretiate being made fun of, especially in the form of a mime.

Museo Nacional Ministerio de Culteral

Today I went to the national culture museum.

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It has artifacts from the pre-incan, Incan, colombian, and colonial period.

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The craftmanship on the pottery and the bronze work on the pre incan were amazing.

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The museum had a mummy found in a cave. Though not visible from the photo, you can see a large blue ring bellow where her ear would have been.

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And though the ear ring is long gone the can tell the size and composition from its imprint.

They also had a cool collection of incan gold jewelry.

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By the incan period the indigenous craftsmen already mastered the art of welding, lost wax casting, alloyeding and gold plateting.

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The museum also contained many carvings and paintings from the colonial period. I thought this cross was cool.

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After the museum, I went to a shoe shop. The soles of my shoes were coming off. I tried some “shoe goo” before leaving, which worked for a little while but after Cotopaxi, they were come off again. So i found this place, it’s an odd little shoe repair shop.

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And an hour later. the guy had my shoe done.

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He glued my soles, and stitched around the entire bottom of the shoe.

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All in all im happy this $5 repair job saved me from having to buy a new pair of shoes.

Take it easy,

Paul

Ps: When playing soccer on gravel, dont slide tackle.

Cotopaxi

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This weeekend I took a tour to Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is an vulcano an hour southeast of Quito. This being ecuador, the trip started with a crowded bus flying down a curvy road.

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Finally we arive at cotopaxi

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The road up the mountain was reminicent of pikes peak, except fully unpaved, and with bulldozers.

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On the way the guides devided the group up into spanish speakers and non spanish speaking (linquist guides!) anyway the spanish speaking group got the 4×4 and made it up to the parking lot . The non-spanish speaking got the mini van, which got stuck and had to hoof it.

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But it ended up working out, because when i finally made it up to the trail, this cool family offered me some of thier hot chocolate and some snacks (yeah buddy!)

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The rest of the hike took about an hour and a half, which feel infinately longer when you heart and lungs are playing dodge ball in your chess. But the view was pretty cool.

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We finally made it to the refuge.

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At 15700ft. this sucker is high. And the lack of oxigen makes for a killer buz.

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Unfortunately, while we were hiking up, clouds moved in obscuring the view of the glaciers. Inside the refuge they had a small resteraunt.

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Upstairs they have bunks for people climbing the mountain.

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The elevation of the summit is 19,000ft. When summiting you wait until midnight so the glaciers can cool/harden, then climb up in the dark. Usually you reach the top around 6am, watch the sunrise, then climb down before the ice gets too soft.

Incase you wanted to know how the refuge was built.

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After looking at the clouds that obscured the glaciers, we hiked back down to the parking lot. At which point the clouds cleared.

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We then selected mountain bikes to ride down the mountain.

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Of course having not ridden a bike in years, I took it easy. (I dont always do tricks on a mountain bike, but when i do, it’s on mountain roads with construction equipment and buses of tourist.)

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That and a competive mexican made the trip fun. (mountain bike drifting).

At the bottom they had a nifty lake

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Take it easy,

Paul

Ps: when you’re walking by a bbq stand and someone offers you some meat, check the grill before you accept. On a unrelated note, pig intestins are chewier than you would think.

Seeking Heaven

So, it’s kinda a long story. Filled with twist and turns, but let’s just say i decided to go back to the vulcano in the secound post (Pululahua-pronounsed Lafafulalulufalula, or that’s how I pronounce it) and spend the night. However, i got behind schedule and ended up not getting to the park until it was already dark. (it seems buses dont always go where you want them, and taxi drivers have never heard of Lafafulalulufalula.) but much latter i finally made it to the park, down the crater, and to my hostel. So the next morning I saw this.

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The weather was very nice, so I went on a hike around the crater. Unfortunately, the map was a satilight photo from google maps which someone drew lines on with windows paint. However i did find/make some cool trails, and the views weren’t bad either.

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The many detures aloud me to check out the local flowers and fauna. I saw these along the trail.

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When the spanish arived in ecuador they built this hacienda. It fell to ruins after one of the revolutions.

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It looked like the government was in the process of restoring the place.

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The hostel was pretty cool. Very nice for south america.

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The garden at the hostel atracted several types of huming birds, including this one.

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Over all Pululahua was very nice and relaxing and sometimes the only sound you hear is the wind in the grass, that and the donkeys. Overall an amazing place.

Take it easy,
Paul

Ps: I realy need to figuare out how these buses work. There’s nothing like seeing the sunset on the “other” side of town.

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El Teleferico

We finally had a clear day so I went up to Teleferico or the cable car.

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At the top the altitude offered a great view of Quito.

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The mountain is an exstinct volcano, and if you do the 5hr hike to the top, you can see the crater.

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Unfortunately the cable car topped out 13,000ft, and i was pressed for time so after the first kilometre i stopped and enjoyed the view.

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If one wanted they had horses for rent as well.

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Then after the hike down, I went and found some food.

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Take it easy,
Paul

Ps: Though it might seem like a good idea at the time, one may want to reconsider walking down into the crater of a vulcano….at night…alone.