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No Worries 'Mas o Menos' 2 years on the road, travelling South East Asia, China, South & Central America and who knows where after that... Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/

Return to Middle Earth

ECUADOR | Sunday, 5 September 2010 | Views [2766] | Comments [1]

So we didn’t get off the bus in Puyo and ended up in Baños, which, to those of you untrained in the Spanish language, means bathroom or toilet! Ryan made a joke that you can pee anywhere you like here as the whole place is a toilet. I refrained from laughing everytime he tried to crack this joke...it’s not funny.

It’s not surprising that the prime reason to come to Ecuador’s most touristic town is to take a bath. The surrounding hills and valley have access to hot thermal springs that are full of healthy minerals, so the town has a number of baths and pools to help rejuvinate tired travellers.

For some reason Baños has an obsession with sweet things. Along with rows and rows of sugar cane stalls, every corner store is selling taffy candy made from boiled sugar and butter that is pulled and twisted until it’s fluffy enough to make sweets from.

It’s also home to Ecuador’s Best Ice Cream, but such a claim can not be taken lightly, so I donned the “Jo vs Ice Cream” hat and gave it a go with a blackberry and choc chip double scoop combo. The conclusion was: “I Agree”, but I haven’t actually eaten enough ice cream in Ecuador for it to be a true verdict. Must try harder.

 

I refused to don the “Jo vs Cuy” hat when we saw these poor fellows roasting away in the market. We’re clearly not true meat eaters, guinea pigs are far too cute to eat, obviously before they are skinned.

Baños turned out to be an apt place to pick up a bout of the amazon belly, which saw me retreat to the ‘baños’ every hour convinced I had contracted cholera, or had we just been reading too much Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

Guayaquil

Down in the coastal lowlands and amongst the banana plantations is Ecuador’s biggest city by population and also labeled the most liberal city compared to Quito’s conservative ways. Guayaquil is definitely livelier than it’s great rival, purely because the heat means there are more people outdoors having fun and there is a lot more flesh on show here.

When we visited the Parque Bolivar in the downtown area we started to wonder why we paid all the money to go to the Galapagos when this park was full of turtles and iguanas! Although I would not recommend pulling the tail of an iguana. One little boy couldn’t keep his hands of the tails and kept pulling iguanas along but he was soon chased down by a whistle blowing policeman, armed with a shotgun, who told him the law and made the poor boy cry.

The Malecon is the place to stroll along by the Guayas river. The boardwalk stretches the length of the city and is lined with parks, restaurants, theatres and museums.

 

At the end of the Malecon is the Las Peñas hillside area, which has been restored to show the traditional colours and designs of the neighbourhood and at the top of Santa Ana hill you get a panorama of the city.

Guayaquil is meant to be the most unsafe city in Ecuador (we like to live dangerously), but it’s an undeserved reputation if you stick to the tourist zones. There are so many armed guards about watching every move that nothing could happen to you here. As we walked around the Las Peñas hillside it seemed that every guard was radioing ahead with the message “Two gringos heading due south, let me know when they reach your zone”, and as we got to the next guard “Copy, two gringos now heading west”. We give Guaya the thumbs up.

Middle Earth

It was then all the way back to Quito to finish off the sightseeing we had missed the first time around and to finally return to the Northern Hemisphere. The Mitad del Mundo is where you can stand over a faded yellow line to claim you have stood in both hemispheres at once. It was cliched to say the least but you have to visit just for the photo opportunities to prove you have conquered Middle Earth and to see if the water really does go down the plug hole in different directions. We also both weighed less at the Equator because of the changes in gravitational pull or something like that, or the scales were just adjusted to fool gullible tourists like us.

After a couple of days in Quito doing backpacker chores, we caught a bus up to the border town of Tulcan. When we got on the bus in Quito there was a very nice man trying to show us to our seats, even though we didn´t have seat numbers, and he was insisting we put our day packs in the overhead rack or under our seat. We had been warned about these people on buses so we knew this was a con and that if we left our bags out of sight they would be stolen before we left Quito, so we sat with our bags on our laps or between our legs so no one could have access to them. After a couple of hours on the bus another backpacker suddenly realised his bag had been taken and he had fallen prey to the same guy, losing his passport just before he wanted to cross the border to Colombia, what bad luck.

Anyway, if you haven´t guessed by now, the next country for us is Colombia, and as usual, more on that next time!

Evaluating Ecuador

Want a beer on a Sunday? Hard luck. There is no way to buy a beer on a Sunday and there are signs in all the shops and supermarkets reminding you of this, much to Ryan’s annoyance when he forgot. But if you persevere, and your hostel has a fridge with cold beers, you will Conquer!

We were thinking of skipping Ecuador at one point, the Galapagos islands were giving us a headache and crossing from Peru to Colombia via the Amazon was becoming a viable trip. But we’re so glad we didn’t. It’s so diverse here. The country is split into three distinct zones, the lowlands, the Andean highlands and the Amazon and each strip of land has it’s own personality, food, people, and climate and the country is tiny in comparison to it’s neighbours, so travelling around is quick, easy and cheap.

Highlights

Favourite Place - Cuyabeno and the Galapagos Islands (Both)

Favourite Attraction - Piranha fishing (Jo) Swimming with Anacondas (Ryan) Snorkelling with sea lions (Both)

Favourite Food - Menestra con Pollo from a hole in the wall restaurant in Cuenca (Both)

Favourite Beer - Club (Ryan)

Favourite Drink - Jugo de Mora (Jo)

Lowlights:

People who recline their seats all the way back on the bus, there is no need!!! (Both)

For those of you thinking of possibly travelling to the region: Costs in USD

Accommodation - $12-16

Restaurant meal - $2-4

750ml Bottled Beer - $1

500ml Soft Drink - $0.50

1.5l Bottle of water - $0.50

Bus - $1.2 / hour

Hasta luego

Jo y Ryan

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/

 

Tags: banos, equator, guayaquil, guinea pigs, mitad del mundo

 

Comments

1

Try not to get kidnapped on your next adventure :)

  Holmy Sep 15, 2010 5:34 PM

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