BIG Tortoise (sculpture)

This guy was at the airport, a big sculpture of a tortoise eating a cactus:

As it turned out I would be seeing real ones in the afternoon but first on the agenda was a trip to the beach! Which is what we will start next week with, now the fun and adventure really begins!

Landing In The Galapagos

OMG I’m in the Galapagos. That was my thought when I landed. It was a beautiful clear day, warm weather and I was really excited about the next stage of my trip. Not much at the airport a sign welcoming us:

We waited expectantly for our driver as our guide told us about what we would be doing that day. At this point I didn’t care what we did I had made it to the Galapagos somewhere I didn’t think I would ever be.

I could not stop smiling and even at the airport I was happy. What would the next week bring, would it be as exciting as this moment? (As it turns out it was MORE).

Condorito de Oro!

I liked the cover, it made me laugh so I bought it.

Then at the airport I tried to read it and was surprised by how much I understood. Of course with a comic you have the benefit of the drawings as well. I enjoyed working it out and what a fun way to improve my Spanish! Certainly beats saying phrases over and over.

Also if you are travelling I would like to pass something that many people have pointed out and I myself agree with. Phrase books are almost useless, the problem is you ask the question and then where ever you are they answer back in their language. At this point you think “huh”, flip through the phrase book and often for some reason repeat yourself. If you are going to ask questions from a phrase book try to make them “yes” or “no” questions, then you have a fighting chance of understanding the answer.

OMG I wandered around and didn’t get lost …….

Having a day to myself I wasn’t sure what to do. I am notorious for getting lost. In Cuzco while travelling with Becca (Team Squirrel! We have done several trips together and on this trip I missed her). Anyway Becca had a headache in Cuzco so I decided to let her rest and go out on my own. Just before I left the room Becca sat up and said “DON’T CROSS THE STREET!”

Yes Mom…….

If I don’t cross the street then I can’t get lost, as it turned out on that day in Cuzco everything I wanted was on the same block of our hotel.

On this day in Quito, I wanted to get out and I needed to find a post office. I asked for directions and found the post office, fairly close to the hotel. Score! Feeling confident I looked at a map and wandered down to a park and caught a bit of a performance. It was in Spanish so I didn’t understand much of it but it was still entertaining.

The Park:

Then I managed to find a church and wandered around the old town:

It was lovely and turning to come back I found my way with no problem.

Of course if you get lost in an unknown place you can always grab a cab back to the hotel.   I also found a little souvenir store and found a scarf I had been looking for and a new Alpaca sweater.

Alpaca is very warm and cozy, perfect for Canadian winters. Very pleased with my day I headed back to the hotel for a quick nap before meeting up with the group for the Galapagos cruise.

End Of The First Tour In Ecuador

Our trip came to an end with a final picture of our little group. In which I should have opened my eyes and taken my hair out of the ponytail.

The three people I had just had a fantastic four days with. Before I left I wondered if I would like the group I would be with, wonder if it would all go okay.

Everything went great, better than I could have expected.

Mauro was a really great guide, he knew a lot about all the places we visited and loved to share information about his country. Upon leaving I got a hug from him, he gives good hugs, good strong hands and since I’m a single gal I’ll take a hug anywhere I can get one.
I also got a hug from Carole who I hope to see in Canada next year. She is doing a train trip through the rockies and I will take the opportunity to go see her and laugh about the Stephen King Hotel (at the time it was NOT funny).

Carole and I got along great, we are about the same age and similar circumstances. We are both single and like to travel, there is even talk of us possibly going to Iceland together! I believe we will be friends for a long time, one of the perks of travelling is adding to your family of friends.

Otavalo Market

The Otavalo market on the weekends takes up many city blocks. On the weekday when we were there it takes up a whole block and that is more than enough. This was my souvenir stop. So far all I had bought was the bag so I thought this was a good place to pick up a few more things. As it turns out other than a t-shirt I bought at the airport coming back from the Galapagos this would be all my souvenirs.

You can bargain with the vendors and Carole was GREAT at bargaining. I’m not so good. The first thing I bought was a blanket and the girl said “$22.00” I said “$20.00” and we had a deal! Yay! Carole laughed her ass off. I was happy. Carole got a beautiful bracelet for $40.00 that had started at $65.00 so she was much better at the bargaining.

The Market:

Still I was happy with my haul from the market. I got the blanket, a picture, a scarf (the scarfs are $2.00 each and it was hard to walk away with just one!), a necklace and an embroidered blouse.

Carole told me not to let her buy anything but she cleaned up and I think she’ll be glad she did! I mean how often are you going to get deals like that?

La Casa Sol And A Wonderful Waiter

It was another lovely hotel and my room was lovely. Meeting up with Carole I said how happy I was and that I had a t.v., Carole didn’t have a t.v. in her room but felt better when I told her the next day that there were very few channels and the reception sucked.

There was a beautiful view from the room:

Fun artwork around the hotel:

When we headed down for dinner there was nobody around and we weren’t sure if we should seat ourselves or not. Eventually we did and were handed a menu in spanish. Neither of us speaks spanish very well. The chef, who was a very pleasant young man, came over to our table and spoke almost no english. The conversation between Carole and him was a lesson in patience on both sides. Carole was trying to speak in spanish and the chef was trying to speak in english. At the end both were visibly happy with the effort they had made, after all this is how you learn a language by using it in an everyday situation.

We had the chicken soup which was so good. Ecuador does soup really well, I ate a lot of soup while I was there.

Cotacachi, Ecuador

Cotacachi is a town in Ecuador known for it’s leather goods and one street has leather store after leather store after leather store. We started at one end and started shopping. There is so much in each store, there are shoes, purses, jackets, belts, anything leather that you could want.

Carole found two beautiful bags and a leather coat, the prices are very reasonable. I wasn’t sure what I wanted and although I like leather jackets I already have so many jackets that I decided that wasn’t what I wanted.

The purses were overwhelming, there were so many of them (also I have A LOT of purses). I almost bought a purple leather backpack but it wasn’t quite right.

In a store a few down from the one with the backpack I found a dark brown leather satchel. I love it and I’ll use it.

I used to have one and used it for years until it fell apart. It was a sad day when I gave it up but now I have another one and every time I use it I will think of all the wonderful times I had in Ecuador with Carole and Mauro.