Ecuador – Part 3

I’ll never clean these again!

With Galapagos mud on my shoe, we said good-bye to our friends in Guayaquil and headed to the coast, then north from there to Manta.

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The coast road was beautiful.

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Montañitas

We visited Montañitas to check out the waves, but couldn’t get anywhere near them. It is a cute little surfer/tourist town with crammed streets, lots of surfers, backpackers and tourists and no access for the car to see the beach – and there was no where for us to stop, so we continued north.

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We were hoping to see our German friends, Ralf and Ramona in another day or two. We had agreed to meet at a hotel in Manta on the following day.

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together again!

Imagine our surprise when we passed up the hotel we were planning on, stopping at another up the street and found them sitting down to lunch. It was great fun surprising them as well. We had a great visit just hanging out together and they prepared a German barbecue for us – goulash over an open barbeque flame – it was awesome!!!

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typical houses along the road

After a couple lovely days with our friends, we headed out toward Quito. The countryside was beautiful and green. Along the way we saw lots of these houses on stilts made of either bamboo or some other cane. They were interesting.

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free car wash 🙂

This is another common site … washing cars and trucks along the road by waterfalls and rivers.

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this was a ministry having to do with Women’s Rights

Once we arrived in Quito and found a lovely place to stay, we set out on foot to see this great city. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, was the first city, along with Krakow, to be named a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978 – it has one of the largest, least altered and best preserved historic centers in the Americas – and we were going to check it out.

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All along the streets are these beautiful buildings with flowers on their balconies. Everything is so clean and neat.

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Plaza del Teatro

This was one of the first of many lovely plazas we came upon. A ‘cellist from the US was going to be playing there the next week.

Plaza de la Independencia

This is the central plaza – Independence Square.

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Presidential Palace

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me in the plaza

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Bacilica del Voto Nacional

The National Basilica of Devotion is found up from the center of town.  It is the largest of its kind in the New World and is quite impressive. It measures more than 450 ft long by 115 ft wide and the towers rise more than 350 ft.

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You can see it from all over town and from far above in the surrounding hills. Construction was begun in 1892 and technically it remains unfinished. Local legend says that when it is finished, the end of the world will come – so I don’t think they are in any hurry.

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… another interesting street with the building in the back arching over the road

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Raul and I with a very serious guard at the Presidencial Palace.

We visited the Presidential Palace and were given a free photo of ourselves. While a nice gift, we had the feeling it had more to do with security.

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Banquet Hall

Our IDs were taken upon entering, our pictures taken – as a free gift – and then the tour began – with guards in front and behind making sure no one went where they shouldn’t or lagged behind.

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Raul with Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of six South American nations, is highly honored in all of these countries.

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Independence Square as seen from the Palace

At the end of our tour, we each received our ID and a nice photo. The security was understandable, but felt weird.

Our moms will get the photos 🙂

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San Francisco Convent Museum

San Francisco Convent Museum is the largest architectural complex in any of the historical districts in the Americas. It consists of the square, the main church, the chapel of San Buenaventura, Cantuña Chapel and the Convent.

There was some folkloric dancing going on in the square when we passed it. I couldn’t get any pictures, but we enjoyed it.

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a view of Panecillo

Ecuador also has its Sugar Loaf – Panecillo (little bread) – a hill that rises above the center. There is a lovely park up there with a 360° view of Quito …

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The Virgin of Quito

… and a very large statue of the Virgin of Quito.

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Central Quito seen from Panecillo

I only got a small part of the city in this photo, but if you enlarge it and look very closely at the left center-top corner, you can see the Basilica. Its stone-grey color makes it almost fade into the background, but when you see it, you get a better idea of its size, as it dwarfs anything around it.

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Mitad del Mundo

Just about 15 miles north of the center of Quito is the Monument to the Middle of the Earth – the Ecuator.

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… checking with my GPS

With one foot north and one foot south, I checked my GPS for the true coordinates …

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barely south of the Ecuator

Well, according to my GPS, it is off by a very slight margin. Not bad when you consider that the measurements made in 1743 were done with nothing so advanced as my satellite-accurate GPS.

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not sure where this was ???

Now, after nearly 8 months we have returned to the northern hemisphere. We were heading to Otavalo – widely known for its incredible craft markets. It also had really friendly people and beautiful surroundings.

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San Luis Church

Of course, we checked the sites out before we hit the market …

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A nearby volcanic lake was the first on our list.

Cuicocha

We heard stories about these small islands from both the man who ran our hostal and our taxi driver. Both grew up here and as children they used to enjoy weekends heading to the smaller of the two islands in the center of the crater where they would hunt cuy (guinea pigs) and have lovely family picnics. They say the name – Cuicocha – is derived from the large number of cuy running wild on the island. Unfortunately, no one gets to visit the island any more. Some careless person didn’t put out his fire well enough and in the night, when the wind picked up, the entire island was destroyed – trees, bushes and wildlife – all gone in a single night.

“Guinea Pig” Island re-seeded

The island was re-seeded and animals introduced, but it is not the same. You can see the difference in the vegetation – and no one takes their families for week-end picnics any more.

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incredible farmland

The trail along and around the lake was so beautiful, with flowers everywhere and views of the beautiful valley you see in background.

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Cotacachi

Cotacachi, a small town near Otavalo is becoming a very popular spot with the retired US people. Because of good prices, lovely climate and even more lovely people, there are whole developments being built just for the expats.

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cool architecture

… all these little towns are so clean and neat 🙂

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Luis Conejo – local artisan

We met Luis on our way to visit the Pechuge waterfall. His specialty is wood instruments. Daddy got me a flute. Luis played it for me so I know it works well – I have yet to get any good sounds out of it. But I’m not giving up. Poor Daddy!

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Raul on the bridge at Peguche Falls

We had a lovely walk through the woods to get to this waterfall.

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One of the flutes Raul got fell from this bridge into the river – my fault. Surprisingly, it wasn’t completely washed down the river. It got caught in some weeds on the side. Raul climbed down the muddy side to the river just as the flute broke free – so he jumped into the water and rescued it! He is my hero!!!

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Otavalo Craft Market

On the last day we hit the craft market. It takes up a full city block everyday but Sunday, when it spills out into the surrounding blocks. It’s a good thing this was a weekday, because there was so much to see. I can’t imagine going on Sunday. Raul never would have gotten me out of there.

The young girl in the photo is in traditional Ecuadorian indigenous clothing.  We even saw school uniforms like this. They are probably the prettiest of all the indigenous groups we’ve seen on this trip – inside and out 🙂

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Police Station at the Ecuador-Colombia Border

Well, here ends Ecuador at the border with Colombia. Ecuador was really lovely. We would love to return and do more hiking, biking, rafting, snorkeling and visiting with our dear friends. What a beautiful country!!!

Into Colombia we go! God bless

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2 Responses to Ecuador – Part 3

  1. Martin says:

    Hey Guys it would be great to add you’re site to OverlandSphere.com, please let us know or register directly on the site. Safe Travels

    Martin & Nicole

    • Raul & Liz says:

      Hi Martin, Thanks for the invitation. We checked your site and registered today. We even saw people we have met along the way registered there. God bless, Liz and Raul 🙂

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