And I’m back! Apologies for the extended absence. The week was a whirlwind filled with all of my favorite things about Ecuador and family, made all the better by the mixing of the two. A breakdown of our week’s highlights follows, hopefully it will encourage some of you to plan a visit down south some time soon!
Sunday: Met the Manna girls at the terminal and hopped on a 3 hour bus out to Otavalo for a day of artisan market shopping and haggling. How my mother is more successful at haggling in English than I am in Spanish I still don’t know... Highlight of the trip: getting to watch a Korean soap opera on the way out, and Black Dog 1 & 2 on the way back. Never seen them? Boy do I feel sorry for you... Dinner at Boca del Lobo, a place I’ve been drooling over since we first walked by in on break from language school back in July.
Monday: Out to the markets at Sangolqui to do the week’s fruits and veggies shopping. Loaded everyone up (including Dana who’s now a market expert!) with bags and subsequently braved the bus back. Out to programs for the day; Apoyo, English, Women’s Exercise and then back home. Highlight: Seth and Dunc were making dinner!
Tuesday: Exploring Quito by foot; hit the dvd shop for my brother, the alpaca wool shop for blankets and the most incredible slippers (which I will never be taking off), and the English bookshop where you can get US magazines for 1.50 (Economist and Time if you’re lucky, Decor and Electronic Digest if you’re not, Vogue if you’ve hit the jackpot). Stopped for lunch at the theater cafe before tackling the Basillica! I managed to convince the boys to climb into the top spire with me while my mom enjoyed a coffee and her book at the restaurant halfway up :) Dinner at Latitude, a wine and tapas bar; intense political discussion followed.
Wednesday: Toured the incredible Guayasamin museum in the morning (opens at 10am most days) before grabbing the coveted bagel with cream cheese at Magic Bean and hopping on a 4 hour bus to Baños, an amazing town tucked into the side of the Andes. Dinner at Casa Hood, my favorite restaurant in Ecuador.
Thursday: Our adventure day! Rented bikes at a little shop off Calle Martinez at 10am; 5 bucks a pop for the whole day, and hit the road. After a “little” accident in the HORRIFYING tunnel (ie. my brother hit the wall, went in a ditch, and busted his arm horribly...don’t think my family has forgiven me yet for that), we continued on the ride through the Andes. Took a ‘gondola’ over the river gulch to get closer to El Manto de la Novia waterfall, hiked down through the forest for lunch overlooking the famous Pailón del Diablo waterfall, climbed up and behind Pailón for an incredibly wet and wonderful experience, and biked on/climbed down to swim in the final waterfall. Hitching a ride back to Baños at 7pm found us all wet and sore and beyond ready for dinner.
Friday: Caught an early 8am bus back to Quito where we were greeted by torrential rains and a gypsy cab driver who took advantage of my exhausted Spanish and over-charged us for our ride out to the Marriott Hotel. Taxied out to Conocoto (where we just missed the rest of the Manna crew who headed out to the mountains for the weekend) to carve our ‘pumpkin’ ie. green squash with REALLY thick edges. Piled back to Quito, indulged in a Marriott burger, the best bit of red meat I’ve found down here, swam in the pool, and had cocktails in the lobby after long showers.
I’m now sitting back in Conocoto catching up on work that I missed last week and relaxing in my pjs (and slippers!); gotta love slow Sundays.