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Baños, Ecuador

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Well, I´ve made it to Baños, Ecuador. We started off leaving Canoa, Ecuador (on the coast) at about 7:00 am and made it to Baños around 9:00 pm. It was a pretty long set of busrides, but incredibly scenic through The Andes. I ended up changing my plane ticket to leave from Lima, Peru, so I don´t have to backtrack 3 days in a bus at the end of the trip, I think that will be better. I also don´t come home now until the 30th. Had I changed my ticket to come home the same day (on the 27th), it would have cost around $800! Doing it this way it only cost $300-something, and I get the 3 days I would have spent in a bus, backtracking, getting to sightsee instead. Plus an extra couple days.

So last night, we all got to Baños around 9:00 pm and just walked arounda little bit, bought a coconut ice cream and then all hit the beds pretty hard. Oh, and this town is really, really cheap! We all ended up with separate rooms with full bathrooms in a hotel (not a dorm or shared rooms), for a whopping $5 per night! Baños is a town full of outdoor recreation, and cheap!

My first morning here in Baños started off when I saw what I thought was a traffic jam (this town is way, way too small for any traffic problems). I knew there had to be something happening. I saw an ambulance, but it was just sitting in the line of traffic with the lights on and going nowhere. Cars were just stopped in the middle of the road, and turned off with nobody in them. There were other flashing lights down a couple blocks in front of the police station. I, of course had to go investigate. There were TV cameras, photographers, local police and some other sort of police I´d never seen all over the place, sporting their machine guns and rifles, but no sign of any violence. I kept looking for the protest, but it turns out that wasn´t the case. I turned towards the small crowd to figure out what was going on, and the President of Ecuador was about 15 feet away! Fortunately I did have my camera, but I wasn´t at all gutsy enough to ask him for a photo, though I think I could have, and probably should have. Oh well!

In Baños, there´s options to go whitewater rafting, repelling down waterfalls, kayaking, zip lining, ATVs, guided tours from one to 5 days in the Amazon jungle...the list goes on and on. A lot of the excursions cost around $20-$25 per half-day ($90 all-inclusive for two days in The Amazon). I am not sure what to do first, I think either rafting or repelling down the waterfall or zip lining through the jungle. I think I will probably do at least an overnight in the jungle at some point too. Well, that´s all I have for now, since we just got here. I´ll post more about Baños later. Hope you´re all doing well!

Posted by elddif 02:49 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Canoa, Ecuador

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So the past few days I've been in a great town called Canoa, Ecuador. It's right on the beach, and the hostel is costing around $10 per night. I'm enjoying just sitting on the beach and exploring. The streets are all even sand! Yesterday I tried surfing and managed to stand up a couple times. I may try again today. I'll upload a couple more pictures of the town here soon for you all to see. I would definitely come back here for a vacation. Either tomorrow or Tuesday we are going to head out to Manta, Ecuador and then back in to Quito, and off to a town called Banos (just a couple hours south of Quito). If we can go directly to Banos from Manta, then we won't go via Quito. Alot of it depends on if we will fly or take a bus. A bus is about 8 hours back to Quito, and a flight is less than an hour, and costs around $45 one-way. They say that flights within Ecuador are really cheap, so we'll see! After that, it looks like we will head south to Vilcabamba and Cuenca, Ecuador, and then cross the border into Peru, but those plans aren't anything set in stone yet. I hope you all are doing well and I will write more soon!

Posted by elddif 10:17 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Canoa, Ecudador

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This morning, in about an hour we´re heading south with a private car to a town called Canoa, Ecuador. It´s supposed to be a nice small town right on the beach, supposedly known for good surfing...I think I may have to try surfing while I´m down here. By the way, the ocean here is just like bathwater, and the grade of the beach is so flat that you can walk out quite a way and enjoy the waves coming in. I rented a boogie board the Wednesday for an hour and it cost one dollar. Atacames is getting pretty busyand, because it´s Friday, people are coming in by the busloads for the weekend. We´re going to stay in Canoa for a couple nights, and then head to Manta and back inland towards Banos, just a couple hours south of Quito. I´m not sure if they´ll have internet in Canoa, so I may not be able to add anything until after Canoa. Yesterday, we headed to a wildlife preserve area about an hour south of Atacames. We formed a group at the hostel, and hired a pickup truck to take us...there were six all together in the back of an old Datsun pickup with a cattle rack. The ride was just fine, and I got to see some other great towns. There´s a lodge, and a really great beach. There´s these little sand crabs (the kind that run sideways). I got some good pictures that I will upload the next time I´m online...the car is going to be ready in about an hour, so I don´t have much time. Well, that´s about all I have time for now, but I´ll try to get some pictures up while I´m in Canoa, if they have internet. If not, it´ll have to wait a couple days.

Posted by elddif 06:47 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Atacames, Ecuador

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So we made it, with a 12 hour busride form Otovalo, Ecuador to Atacames. We took the north route, through Ibarra and out to San Lorenzo, near the border of Colombia. It was interesting to say the least. We had to change busses 3 times. San Lorenzo is very poor, and has an interesting population. It´s all African people, who I think are decendents of slaves. The music is way different, and played everywhere. It´s called Rumba. It was a beautiful, downhill drive all the way to San Lorenzo from high in the Andes Mountains. At San Lorenzo, we changed busses and had about 4 hours more to the city of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. That was the most culturally interesting part of the ride. Most locals used the bus service, including schoolchildren as young as maybe 5 years old (on their own, riding the bus from school for an hour or so!). Kids here are way, way more self-reliant, and seem much older than in the US. From there we changed busses again, for about a 30 min drive to Atacames. We are staying at a place owned by a Swiss lady called Chill Inn. It´s pretty nice, and a fairly new place. The beach at Atacames is really nice, and it´s clearly "the place" for all Ecuadorians to go for a vacation. The Malecon (walkway along the beach) is spectacular. It´s lined with bars, clubs, small stores and markets. All the taxis here are what they call mototaxis or conservativas. They are modified motorcycles with a cart you ride in, either on the front or the back of the bike...sort of like a 3-wheeler. The plan here is just to hang out and enjoy the beach. Tomorrow we are planning on heading out, south, I think (as long as we can find busses)...there´s a part of the coast highway that doesn´t show a road, so we may need to go inland. I could definitely spend a month or so here, it´s really cheap and the weather is absolutely amazing. Today I may head south about a half-hour to a town called Sua, just to check it out. You can look down the beach to the north and see the city of Esmeraldas, and south and see the town of Sua. We can go deep see fishing and whale watching for 5 hours, at a rate of $20 per person. Anyway, you can check out where I went by looking at my travel map. I´ll try to upload a couple pictures of the area too for you all to see.

Posted by elddif 09:07 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Otovalo, Ecuador

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Hey all...Happy Fourth of July! This was our last day in Otovalo, Ecucador, and I managed to do just about everything. I woke up pretty early and headed with a taxi driver to a Volcano, called Coicocha (not sure about the spelling). It was similar to Crater Lake, and absolutely amazing. We were able to hike the entire crater rim, at about 12,000 feet. The hike was 18 km, or about 12 miles, with lots of steep climbs. At that altitude, it was a little tough, but I did it in about 4 hours. We saw tons of things, including wild orchids and even pine trees along one side of the crater rim. After that, we ate at a restaraunt at the lake inside the crater. There were two islands also. The last 4 km of the hike was on a road through an agrigultural area. It rained a little during the last part, but it wasn´t bad at all. When we left, we went to El Parque de Condores (a Condor Park). It was sort of like a zoo, but it was really cool. They even had a bald eagle! The taxi driver then wanted to take us to a famous waterfall just outside of town, called Cascada Peguchi (again, not sure on the spelling). It was really nice too. There was a cobblestone trail meandering through the Ecualyptus trees, which smelled really good. Then he wanted to take us to a small town where the local indiginous artists live and do their work. They have started something I´ve seen other places, sort of a local community tourism program. The artists open their homes up to people and offer a demonstration of how they do their art and then, of course you get an opportunity to purchase. It´s a really good model and good for the indiginous communities. The driver did all this for us for only $10 per person! Tomorrow, at 6:30 in the morning, the same driver is going to take us a half hour north to Imaburra to the bus station that has busses going to Esmeraldas and Atacames, Ecuador, on the coast. We´re planning to stay there for three nights too. The place is called the Chill Inn, it´s owned by some Swiss people. It´s $9 per night and only 50 meters from the beach...I´ll keep you all posted and let you know how it compares.

Posted by elddif 18:12 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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