After we finished our volunteer work, we did a ten day tour of Ecuador. We all piled into two very small mini buses to travel around. First we went up, way up. The altitude we were at (about 4000 metres) meant I was often short of breath. And what do you do when you're so high up? Well you hike higher of course!
I did more hiking in a week then I ever want to do again! Now, I have nothing against hiking, but the problem was twofold:
- The tour leader's estimation of the difficulty of the hike and how long it would take was wildly incorrect. Our first hike was supposed to be about 40 minutes to the top... An hour and a half later, we still hadn't reached the summit.
- The weather was against us. The point of the hike was to see a beautiful view, but each time the cloud rolled in before we could see it!
We even tried getting up before sunrise. We were told that was the best time to see the Cotapaxi volcano was at sunrise. You guessed it, more clouds! That morning was quite amusing. We were staying in a lovely hostel called The Secret Garden. It was very quaint, with hobbit hole rooms and a compostable toilet. I was hoping to get one of the hobbit hole rooms, but alas they were all booked. So instead my husband and I got the room known as the Playhouse. What we weren't told was that the room is not recommended for people over 175 cm tall - and my husband is 198 cm tall! You can see from the photo below that it really wasn't a good fit.
So what did I enjoy the most? I really enjoyed the Otavalo markets. The myriad of colours was amazing and I couldn't resist buying a few things; my gorgeous poncho (which I can't wait to wear in winter), a couple of beautiful scarves and a hammock which is currently hanging in my backyard underneath some trees and is the perfect spot to spend an afternoon with a good book!
I was also lucky enough to be sitting next to Xavier, one of our tour guides, on the bus trips between destinations. He told us all about the areas we were driving through and I learnt about Incan myths, Ecuadorian exports and the history of Ecuador. It was fantastic.
My husband and I actually left the tour a few days early. The rest of the group was heading to Puerto Lopez, but it was a ten hour overnight bus trip in the tiny buses and we decided we didn't want to do that. It was just as well, as my husband got sick the day after and spent several days in bed, but we were at least in a nice hotel and were able to call a doctor to come and see him. By the time we flew to the Galapagos Islands he had recovered.
More of our Galapagos adventures on Wednesday.