Adventure in Ecuador and Peru

In Feb 1999 Ellen and I went to Quito, Ecuador to visit her son who was teaching school in that city.
In 2000 we decided to go back to Quito and then on to Peru. Our 2000 adventure starts here



Friday, we arrive in Quito:
After making an extra circuit of the airport because of a non functioning light that told the pilot the flaps were not down, we land safely. Ralph and Terrance are there to meet us.

Quito is 2,907 meters above sea level and it took us a few days to acclimatize to that altitude. The first day we walked all the way to the downtown area. After exploring the city all day we took a bus back to the Estadio which was near to where we were staying, but then we had to walk up the hill to our place. Ellen's son Ralph lives in a very nice area of the city but it was a fairly steep climb up the hill from the bus station to his street. It seemed like about a kilometer. It nearly did us in. Not a smart thing to do when you first arrive at that altitude.

Saturday we went to the old part of Quito with Ralph. He did not want us to go alone as it is notorious as a place to get robbed. We would have been fine but we humored him. We took a taxi to El Panecillo in the Old City. Here there is a huge statue of La Virgen de Quito on a hill overlooking the city. The view is wonderful, looking north and south the length of the valley. Because of the clouds we could not be sure if we were looking at the snow covered peak of Cotapaxi to the south or not. The taxi waited and took us back down to the main part of the old city where we walked around many of the historical sites. We then caught a train back down to the Parque El Ejido and then a bus home. We went out to another nice restaurant with Terrence and Ralph for dinner

Sunday Ralph and I went for a long walk in El Parque Metropolitino. Ellen decided to stay at the house and rest as her joints were bothering her. We then went downtown, sent e-mail from an Internet Cafe, changed some money and bought groceries at a supermarket for dinner.

Monday In the morning Ellen felt better and we decided to travel by bus to Otavalo, a town north of Quito. We took a taxi to the El Busque bus stop rather then going to the main bus station. Here we were able to catch a bus going to Otavallo. The country side is wonderful. We are driving through this beautiful Andean landscape and the movie they are showing on the bus is the Terminator (very loud). It didn't exactly fit our idea of the area. We found generally the South Americans like their music very loud.

We pass many huge greenhouses on the way. Roses are a big export crop in Ecuador and this is where most of them are grown in these greenhouses. We could see debris on the highways where there had been some demonstrations. There was talk of a big strike coming later in the month.

Otavallo is famous for the indigenous people who are expert weavers. There is a huge market, selling the native crafts, held there every day.

bus station Otovalo

This is the bus station in Otavalo. Just walk down by the buses and they will be calling out the name of the town they are going to.

Arriving in Otavallo we booked into the El Shingra Hotel. It was expensive but very nice with a lovely garden. Great for bird watching. We had some lunch at the hotel and then anxious to see the sights we started out to explore. Walking down the street just a block from the hotel, Ellen was bitten by a dog. It stuck its head right through the slats in the fence and grabbed her arm. Her son had warned us to stay away from the fences but we had to learn the hard way. Thankfully she had on a coat and the teeth did not actually touch the skin, although the skin was broken. There are many psycho dogs in that country. Most are kept behind fences for watch dogs and they hardly ever get out. This dog had pups and probably that is why it was so protective of its territory. We went back to the hotel and the girl at the desk bathed the wound with soap and water. The teeth had hit her watch which had broken the skin. Rabies is always a concern in under developed countries.

We checked out the market but did not buy anything. Had lunch and decided to find a cheaper place to stay the second night.

street in Otavalo

Street in Otavalo.

In the afternoon we traveled by bus to Agato, a small town near Otavallo. Here we visited the shop of Michael Andrango and bought some weavings. Senor Andrango weaves using his hands and his feet. He was a very friendly man even though we had interrupted his lunch. We decided to walk back to Otavallo and on the way to stop in Peguche to check out another weaver.

We had been walking for a long time and thinking we were in Peguche we stopped at a shop for a drink and to ask directions. The lady kept laughing and it took us awhile to realize she was trying to tell us we were back in Otavalo not in Peguche. We had made a wrong turn coming out of Agato.

Jose Cotacachi

José Cotacachi at his shop door.

Tuesday morning we went to Peguche, again by bus, to buy some pieces from the artist José Cotacachi. He signs his work as "José C". He is a young man, has a nice studio and appears to be quite prosperous. He came to the door and let me take his picture. The artisans in this area sell their products all over the world and many of them have become rich.

It was quite an experience riding on the local buses as some of these rural roads are pretty rough. The public transportation is very good in Ecuador. You can get a bus to almost any town. When we returned to Quito we again got off the bus at El Busque. They just let you off on the side of the highway. We then took a taxi back to Ralphs

Next Page: Trip to Riobamba and surrounding area.

To check out some of my other adventures follow these links.
El Camino de Santiago, Spain
Bicycling in France
Trekking in Nepal
A trip to Iquitos, Peru