Exploring Ecuador with Emily

June & July - 2006


Wednesday June 28, 2006

We have been anchored in Bahía Caráquez for almost a week now.  We entered with the end of the flood tide last Thursday, June 22 and spent the rest of the day on the boat waiting for the Port Captain to check us into the country.  We got checked-in in time to go into Puerto Amistad, the cruiser’s restaurant.  There we met with other cruisers and enjoyed a wonderful hamburger dinner.  We have spent most late afternoons enjoying the hospitality of the restaurant owners, Tripp and Mayelis.  Monday we took a taxi into Manta with the folks from Soy Libre to get our passports stamped at Immigration and thus do the final boat check-in.  It took all day but we also had time to visit one of the large shopping malls there.  I did a little food purchasing, but since we had really stocked up in Panama we were not in need of much.  Bill got a Ecuadorian "sim" card for his cell phone so it is now useable here.

Yesterday, after a morning of school work, cleaning and internet, we walked to the ocean side of the city.  Emily and Doreen enjoyed a nice romp in the sea.   We returned to Puerto Amistad in time for Emily to join with little Andrew (of Soy Libre), and Sami (of Encanto) for fun in the large sand box.  She has been occupying her late afternoons with her friends in the large sand pile while we enjoy a few beers with our friends.


Saturday July 1, 2006

Thursday Mayelis lead a group of the cruisers to a school where a large Galapagos turtle lives and enjoys the company of the students.  A few years ago the turtle was transferred to a nature preserve, but the poor turtle was so lonely for the children that he refused to eat and just slept, so he was returned to the school where he is clearly happy.  We fed him some fruits and took photos.  Mayelis then lead us up to a viewpoint.  It was nice hike thru one of the barrios and the view from the top was spectacular, especially since the prevailing haze burned off for a time.  Yesterday we celebrated Emily’s ninth Birthday (a few days early) with cake and games at Puerto Amistad. 


Tuesday July 4, 2006

Monday, we left Bahía on  the 9AM bus to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, high in the mountains.  It was a 9-hour bus ride thru some spectacular country. The first part of the ride was thru the lowlands with many swampy areas and rich farm. Then we climbed steeply into the Andes mountains passing thru a narrow gorge and viewing at least one very tall waterfall. The roads were mostly terrible being covered in worn out pavement.  The folks from two of the other boats anchored in Bahía were on the bus with us.  Officially we were traveling with just MaryAnn and little Andrew from Soy Libre.   We arrived in Quito at the bus terminal just before 5PM.  There we picked up a taxi for the ride to the New Town area where many of the tourist facilities are.  We found a nice hotel and all three couples checked in.  Since we were all starved, the four of us traveling together soon took off to find a dinner nearby and ended up finding a nice Italian restaurant where we all ate too much.  It was a rather late-to-bed night.

Today, after a breakfast of rolls and coffee at the hotel we took off on city busses, to visit "El Mitad del Mundo", a nearby monument on the equator.  There are actually two adjacent sites, one that the 1736 French expedition decided was the equator and the other the indigenous site.  We first visited the big monument built on the line calculated to be the equator by the French expedition and took many photos.  After lunch at this site we allowed the two children to play in a playground within the monument area.  Then we walked out to the Inti-Nan Museum.  There we got a very informative and interesting tour.  This site is built on an old indigenous site and several of the buildings are over 150 years old.  We were given a nice description of life before the Europeans arrived.  On this site is also a line reported to be the equator by the ancients - and the modern GPS agrees with them.   Here the sundial has two faces, one for when the sun is in the north and one for when the sun moves south.  We made the return trip by bus and managed to not get lost!!  We stopped along the way for dinner.  It was at a Mexican restaurant that we had noted on the walk to the bus.


Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Today we took a bus into the old city of Quito and checked out several of the churches and the "Museum of the City" as well as walking some of the old city streets.  We started out at the Plaza de Independencia.  Along one side of the plaza is the main cathedral.  We had a rather short tour of the church but spent some time after the tour checking it out more for ourselves.  From there we walked a few blocks to another church, Compañía de Jesús.  This church is very baroque.  The interior has both Moorish designs and Roman designs on its many columns and all were covered in gold paint.  Emily was fascinated by the many statues and altars.  We stopped for lunch along the route to the Museum of the City, at a bakery.  The Museum of the City was interesting but not well signed or organized.  Emily did pick up some of the history of Ecuador from the exhibits though.  Then it was backtracking to visit the Plaza and Church of San Francisco.  The construction of the church was started soon after the founding of the city.  Much of it has been destroyed and rebuilt due to the various earthquakes over the years.  Today they have many metal beams and supports holding the roof up and much of the artwork needs refurbishing, which they were just getting set up to do.  This was another church with much of the interior painted in gold.  On our way back to the bus stop we made a stop for ice cream and another for pizza.  We returned to the hotel tired, and spent the rest of the evening reading and were to bed very early.


Friday July 7, 2006

Yesterday we took the day off from touring and went to a park where the two children could play and we could sit in the shade of a tree to read.  We did spend a little time in the Natural History museum though. 

Today, we moved on to Los Baños, leaving Mary Anna and Andrew behind.   Baños is a small town, part way down the eastern side of the Andes mountains toward the Amazon jungle.  It is a very touristy town nestled between several volcanoes that produce the hot springs that the town is named for.   After getting checked into a hotel, we explored the town some and visited the Basilica to the Virgin of the Holy Water.  It is a very beautiful church.  And has paintings of the many miracles that are attributed to the Virgin, some quite humorous.  There are lots of restaurants in this touristy town and we found a nice one for a great dinner and returned to the hotel early as Emily was becoming tired and whiney.


Sunday July 9, 2006

Yesterday we visited the San Martin Zoo.  Emily enjoyed all the different animals especially the monkeys.  The monkeys in one of the cages were poking their hands out of the cage trying to take items from people that they could reach.  One man attracted a monkey with a flower then shook his hand.  The monkey reciprocated by grabbing the man’s arm.  Emily took photos of this and while she was, another monkey reached out for her colorful headband but Emily moved out of the way just in time.   After we left the Zoo, Emily saw a sign for snakes and wanted to see them.  I did not, so Bill took her into the small reptile exhibit while I enjoyed a beer and people watched.  We took the bus back to town quite tired as the zoo was in a step canyon with many steps both up and down.  We enjoyed a nice almuerzo, a “set lunch” with soup, rice, salad, French fries, and a nice piece of roasted chicken for $1.50 each.   Back at the hotel we sat in the common room reading and Emily caught up on her journal writing.

Today we woke up sore after yesterday’s activities.  We enjoyed a nice late breakfast and then returned to the hotel to watch the finals of the world cup soccer in the common room.   It was early to bed for Emily while Bill and I left the room until she was out to make sure that she got a good early sleep.


Tuesday July 11, 2006

Today we moved on to the city of Riobamba after spending a nice relaxing day yesterday in Baños.  We visited one of the pools that the town is famous for.  Actually there are three pools at the complex; a hot pool and a warm pool and the cold pool.  The nearby hot springs provides the hot water for the two heated pools with the waterfall providing the cold water.   After lunch - while Bill found a dentist to fix a filling that he had lost by chewing the local candy - Emily and I went to the children’s park.  The park was near the hotel and Emily played with some of the local children for several hours, having a great time while grandma read.

The bus ride to Riobamba was thru a spectacular gorge, following a river uphill.  The road had only recently been made serviceable again after rainy season mudslides had closed it, so much of it was just graded volcanic ash at the Baños end.  The bus trip took only a little over an hour.  We then walked the 8 or so blocks to the central park.  Bill left Emily and me there with the luggage while he walked about to find a hotel and get us checked in.  He then returned for us.  After getting all the bags into our hotel room we were guided to a nice restaurant for lunch by the hotel guard, after witch we walked around the train station.  We purchased tickets for tomorrow’s early morning train ride.  A short walk around town and it was early to bed for us all as we have a 5:30AM breakfast and a 6:15AM train to catch.


Wednesday July 12, 2006

Today we took the train ride from Riobamba thru Devil’s Nose and back to the little town of Alausi where we got off about 1:30 PM for a lunch and to catch a bus back to Riobamba.  The train followed the tracks of the train that connected Quito (high in the mountains) to Guayaquil (on the coast) after the turn of the 20th century.  This section of track is reported to be one of the toughest stretches of rails laid in all the world.  The train that now runs is for the tourists.  Most tourists ride on top of old boxcars that have had an extra railing added along the edge for a little bit of security.  The views were spectacular.  This is the dry time of the year so the hills - except the irrigated farms - were brown.   We passed many natives working in their fields and children waved to us as we passed. There were vendors selling water, soft drinks and various snack items that walked along the top of the cars.  Before we left the station, the vendors were also selling warm hats, gloves and cushions to sit on.  Since the train left around sunup it was very cold for the first part of the journey, but by late morning we were all stripping as the sun was very hot. On one section of track the train had to back thru one of the tighter switch backs. On the return leg, the car that we were riding on had the forward part of its forward truck derail after making the switch to the forward section of track again.  It took several tries but soon they had the wheels back on the track and we were off and going again. The 3-hour bus ride back from Alausi to Riobamba was long and covered the same high countryside as the train ride.  We returned to the hotel quite tired.


Monday July 17, 2006

We arrived back to Bahía and the boat on Saturday afternoon after two days of bus travel from Riobamba and one night in Guayaquil.   We spent one day in Riobamba resting but were still too tired to continue and Emily wanted to get back to Lanikai.  We arrived home on Emily’s 9th birthday and I think that her best gift was reuniting with Jocelyn from MoonShadow who she hadn't seen since we left Panama City.  Yesterday, in the afternoon, I took the girls to the beach where they enjoyed the water and sand for several hours before they both got too cold to continue.  A hot shower back at Puerto Amistad and the two girls were back in the sand making things.  Today is a quiet day for all as Emily is sick and both Bill and I have rumblie tummies.


Friday July 21, 2006

The past week was spent resting and getting things ready for Emily to return home.  Bill also spent time on the internet making last minute orders of goodies that he wants to bring south with him.  We have all recovered from our rumblie tummies.  Bill and I went Thursday morning and got our Yellow Fever shots so that Bill will not have difficulties returning from Panama after his short trip stateside.  Emily is again doing morning school and afternoon play at Puerto Amistad while I get all the many photos that were taken while she visited sorted into photo albums for her to take home with her.


Sunday July 23, 2006

We finally went to visit the beach at Canoa.  It was a wonderful day!!!  Little Andrew went with us and the two children played in the waves and sand until lunch time.  I made peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and they were a great hit.  In the afternoon while Andrew played more in the sand, Emily found some new friends to play with in the water.  Eventually her friends wandered off and grandma jumped in the surf with her until time to leave.  We returned to Puerto Amistad and enjoyed a few beers while we took turns showering off the sand and salt before finally returning to Lanikai for an early to bed night.

Thursday July 27, 2006

Bill and Emily left on the 11:30AM bus to Guayaquil and the airport for the long trip back to Oregon.  Emily will be missed on Lanikai as she has been with us for 10 weeks, but it is time for her to return to her family.




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