Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Around Ecuador in 20 days...

We were once given a piece of advice by a special pioneer couple while serving in Melbourne. Try and see as much as you can of the city while you're serving there and that's what we've tried to do... Only that we took it to greater heights and traveled around Ecuador in 20 days... My family, Massiel and Ben came with us....

So... we started in Salinas spent a couple of days there before the DC, we hired a 5 bedroom house with a pool, then we headed to Guayaquil.


Frailes Beach
Well after the amazing Convention, we traveled to Montañita and stayed a night there.... Word of advice about this place... Do not stay in the center, look for a hotel away from the middle of town! We stayed in a really nice hotel that happened to be in front of a night club! My poor family's room was right in front of it, so lets just say they didn't sleep that night and to make it worse Marcos got sick... The flu... Since the coastal areas are on high alert for dengue they wouldn't supply any medication for him and made him see a doctor to make sure it wasn't that... The doctor gave him medication that was way too strong for him and it made him throw up most of the night.... The next day we had it regulated properly and it fixed his tummy but the flu was very strong and he was sleeping most of the trip for the next couple of days. Our room was at the back of the hotel and although we could hear the loud music that night we managed to sleep through it... They stopped at 3am! I wasn't starting to feel well either but I brought flu tablets with me so as long as I took them I didn't feel too bad...
 
After that was Puerto Lopez.... This little town keeps getting bigger and bigger every time we visit... They've built a really nice jetty... Here's a photo... At the hotel where we stayed, we noticed magazines, a BH book and a bible... We asked who was studying and they told us it was the owner of the hotel who was studying... How nice... Here, Dad and Sara came down sick... The flu as well...they were out of action for the next couple of days... So now we were 4 sick and mum was starting to get sick too!
 
Crusitas... We stayed 2 nights at Ben's family's holiday place.. We skipped Pedernales one night cause everyone needed to rest... Ben and Massiel got the flu... Sara and Dad were out of action... Marcos was staring to come to life again... And as long as we took our meds mum and I weren't too bad... This is where we saw a scorpion, Jeremy killed it since no one else would dare to go near it! And we were very careful not to let dad know what we had seen... We really wanted him to sleep properly without having to worry that a scorpion might fall on his head.... So we didn't tell him! 

Next stop was Pedernales for a quick bite and cocktail... And then straight to Atacames.... Worst time to arrive on a Friday night.. We hadn't realized Quito had a long weekend and what seemed all of the city had come to spend the long weekend here!  It was so packed and since we had no prior booking for accommodation we spent hours looking around for a place to stay... Everywhere was full... We ended up having to split up from my family, they stayed at one place and we stayed in another... The room we stayed at had bunk beds... So Jeremy and I slept in a bunk bed for the first time since we've been married... Jeremy was scared I was going to fall off the top bunk bed... But it was only for two nights... All the beaches were packed!  Imagine Bondi on a summer public holiday now times it by ten and stretch it for a couple of km's...  Packed!!

So then my family headed to Quito but we stayed a night in Mindo... We had never been here and heard it's a great place to visit being a cloud forest! The temperature is constantly between 17-25 degrees...  There's heaps of things to see and do...We went to a butterfly farm.. On a chocolate factory tour... The owners had started this place because the wife wanted to improve the brownies she made... Funny story... She had first imported chocolate from the states cause she thought the quality would be better than the chocolate she found in Ecuador but when she read the packaging on the US chocolate the cacao came from Ecuador, so then she thought what if I make my own chocolate and so they did... They now export chocolate to the US...haha. We also wanted to visit the frog opera but once we got there they were closed on Sundays... We parked the car outside and noticed a security officer outside this place so we asked him if we could go in and take a look... But he said no... It was only open for guests who were staying there... They happened to be a hotel... So we asked to see the rooms and once he lets us in we saw this amazing place... It was a beautiful lake... And you could hear the frogs and all the insects... They were so loud... In order to stay longer we asked if they had a restaurant... And he said yes, so we had dinner there... We got eaten alive by Mosquitos but it was so worth it, this place was so so romantic and beautiful!...  The next day we went to see the waterfalls, we only managed to see two cause now Jeremy started to feel sick... It wasn't the flu though, he had eaten something that wasn't sitting well... So we made the track back up the mountain and headed to Quito... Oh I almost forgot we did this canopy ride... I was so scared... I'm scared of heights so you can imagine how I felt dangling from a rope on top of the forest...it's hard to explain... You should google it... It was amazing once I stopped freaking out...  

Ok so now it's Monday and we are heading to Quito.... As we were dropping Massiel and Ben off at their Aunts place we noticed a sign that said pico y placa 1,2 and wondered what that was.... We almost made it there but a police office made us pull over and told us what it was.... Basically during the week depending on what number your number plate finishes in you cannot drive at certain times on that day. For example ours finishes with 2 and we were not supposed to drive on mondays... Now we were breaking the law, so the penalty was they would take our car and impound it for a night along with a fine of $106 cash!!... We couldn't believe it, we explained we weren't from Quito we didn't know this road law... We had recently gotten our licenses and no where in the handbook had this been written and their answer was that it applied to all cars no exceptions... So Dad had to pick us up from the impound and Ben and Massiel had to catch a taxi to their accommodation.  The next day Jeremy had to pay the fine and then drive to the impound with the receipt to pick up the car!  They had placed a sticker on each door, the fuel tank door and the bonnet of the car to make sure no one opened it during the night... This sticker was so hard to get off... We still have the marks on the car now!  So hard and expensive lesson to learn... Pico y Placa - we personally don't like it...!

 
Shrunken Head
Moving on, so while we were in Quito we visited the real middle of the world... We heard about this during a talk in the convention... The speaker mentioned the popular middle of the world where all the tourists go isn't really the middle of the world! I was shocked! So we had to go see for ourselves. And true to his word.... You can google it! It's off by 200 metres... The French expedition had used hand tools to figure out the middle of the world many many years ago.... Can't remember exactly but I think it was like 100-200 years ago... In the 1800's... With technology they used a GPS and found the middle if the world was somewhere else... They even had little scientific tests to
Tarantula

prove it....  They showed us water and the different way its spins when you drain it out in the different hemispheres... In the middle the water just goes down straight... But in one side of the hemisphere it spins clockwise and on the other anticlockwise... all a meter or two either side of the equatorial line. YouTube it... I'm sure it's there... 





Ibarra City

We also made a trip to visit my cousin in Ibarra... I've never been to this city... It was so pretty, very clean and very picturesque... Here are some photos.... My cousin wanted to take us to Colombia for the afternoon, supposedly it's only two hour away to Ipiales...  But it was getting late and we only went for a day visit... So next time.... They live in a beautiful house in front of a lake... The property is owned by a foreign brother... He's generously donated the property to Bethel, it's so nice here...

Baños
Our final stop was in Baños... The Tungurahua volcano has been active in the recent months... So we were scared... Well mainly I was scared it was going to blow!  If you see the map of Baños we'd have no hope to get away if this was to happen... 

While we were here we relaxed... The majority were better from their flu including Deb who copped it while in Quito... No one was saved.... We all got sick, so we needed some RnR... Massages here are cheap and fantastic... So we all enjoyed a massage with the exception of Jeremy who doesn't like massages cause they hurt him...hahaha, he thought about it this time but he wasn't fully back to being well from his tummy issues so he decided against it.. 

We visited the thermal pools, different ones than last time but just as pretty...we went to this place called Salado... It's meant to be better for your skin... As it comes straight from the volcano and is rich in minerals...we were right at the base of the volcano... As much as it was beautiful... I had to make myself stop looking for the exits, just in case!

On the way back to Cuenca we stopped by a town that's popular for their jeans and clothing... We managed to buy good nice jeans for $8.00 each!.. Great huh....

After this we drove 6 hours back home and arrived safe and sound.....

We got a lot in within 20 days... And a lot happened... But we are happy to be back...we were starting to miss our studies....  Last two weeks of the service year...lets make them count!  

So that was our holiday... I know it's a long one
enjoy the photos....  

Jeremy is slowly getting better from his tummy issues, it always takes a little while for his tummy to settle... but we are all doing well... hope your all doing well too...  

lots of love,

JnK...
The biggest fairy floss ever!....