cuador — Andes Ambling
October 1 - November 29, 2004
If we knew little about Colombia except for its "guerrilleros" before we got there, we knew even less about Ecuador except that it was on the equator. We flew into Quito from Bogota arriving almost at midnight and trusting ourselves to an airport taxi driver who we think arrived the day before we did given his lack of knowledge of historic downtown Quito.
Our first excursion out of Quito was to do the touristy thing and straddle the line at Mitad del Mundo. It was underwhelming as expected, because for us the exciting moment happened up in the air when we crossed into the southern hemisphere for the first time in our current odyssey. We had both looked toward this moment for so long, counting down the latitude first to the Mexican border, through Mexico, then through all of the countries of Central America, across the Caribbean, and finally all the way south from Cartagena to Bogota
And having finally made it to the southern hemisphere what did we do but go back to the northern hemisphere to spend a week in the Ibarra-Otovalo region.
Eventually, however, what goes north had to come south again, so passing through Quito we moved on to Latacunga where we headed into the mountains to follow the Quilotoa Loop and get a taste of village life in the high Andes.
Next stop was Banos, a thermal spa resort on the cusp of the Oriente, the Ecuadorian jungle. Here we hiked and biked and generally took things easy until the Independence holiday crowd forced us to move on to Riobamba. We stayed only briefly then headed up through the pass at the foot of Chimborazo to Guaranda for a taste of small town life and then back to Riobamba to watch George W. Bush get re-elected President of the United States.
We celebrated the election results for a couple of days then headed south again, this time to Alausi where we took the famed tourist train down the Devil's Nose then hung around to admire the nose from another angle.
And so we came to Cuenca, third city of Ecuador and such an innocent-seeming place. Here we experienced a nightmare that resulted in cutting our trip short and sending us via Vilcabamba to Guayaquil and onto a plane to Miami.