We have been in Ecuador 15 days today. We left Otavalo and headed through Quito which was a pretty city. Quito had bad air pollution, lots of particulates in the air. Some seemed to come from a massive road project on the Pan American where an entire mountain had been stripped of ground cover to construct part of a highway and the wind blew the dust straight into Quito. A lot of it came from cars and buses, too.
We crossed the equator – which is very exciting. It is summer here now. When we got there, several old British people were planking across the equator and having their photo taken. The water goes down the drain in the other direction. It’s pretty exciting.
What was also exciting was that we came across a Ford dealership! This is exciting as we needed new rear leaf springs for the van. Apparently it is hard work, pulling a 29 ft camper over the Andes.
Mark ran inside Ford and we headed to the Latacunga Mall where we shopped in a glamorous, new and nearly empty mall. The food court had a restaurant called King Cuy Cuy (kwee) – that means guinea pig.
After shopping, we went looking for Mark and the Ford guys said he was around the corner in the shop. Which was here, in the street by the train track.
Ford fixed the leaf springs and then somehow jacked them up to be modified leaf springs while Ryan wandered around Latacunga. Here is a photo of driving the Pan American through Latacunga. It can be pretty stressful, bigger cities.
We drove on and found a weird playground with weird, dangerous (actually deadly) slides and such. Alpacas lived there too.
This slide was built on cement and the ladder up is widely spaced monkey bars. I wouldn’t let anyone but Jack & Jen climb up.
Jack went to the top of this thing which is like 30 ft high and has a hole at the top so you can climb out – and then fall to your death as it is a ball of wire above cement. A little kid kept trying to climb out. I couldn’t watch any longer – I had to leave.
We drove to Baños to soak in the thermal springs by the volcano – on the advice of Mary and Brian. We found a great parking spot, a restaurant parking lot that was only open for lunch. We disconnected the camper and drove to Tena (again on the advice of Mary & Brian). It was a great drive through these handhewn mountain tunnels and such. The jungle was beautiful.
Mark and I liked Tena so much, we talked about retiring here! Ryan got a poster of the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa from the campaign office in Tena – he had wanted one for awhile.
Then it was date night in Baños which was not as fun as it may sound. Seems like everything in Ecuador closes at 7pm.
Ecuador has a lot of ice cream which keeps Sylvia happy.
Ryan got more posters of Rafael Correa when we stopped at the Oldest Church in Ecuador and camped in the massive parking lot. At 7pm, the police set up a road block directly next to our camper so for the next three hours we were extremely safe but the police had their lights on the entire time. And there was a lot of megaphone talking. People here love megaphones.
We were unsure if we wanted to continue across the Andes to Peru or head down to the lowlands and cross into Peru that way. Both had good and bad points. Driving through the Andes is beautiful but slow. Driving through the lowlands is fast but hot. We finally decided on the Andes route.
We arrived in Cuenca and have been here for three days. Mondays & Tuesdays are work days for me and we also had work samples for school due. We found a GREAT place to stay – a gas station and parqueadero just south of Cuenca called Rancho Alegre / Petro Comercial. It has a mini market and it is on a field of cows and they have free wifi (a life saver!) and the people here are really kind. One of the people here is from Peru and he gave us a long list of good places to camp. We are planning to leave tomorrow.