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Otavalo, Day 2

Meditations with my spirit animal

sunny

So so so

On my last full day in Quito I went to visit the Mitad del Mundo, 45kms or something north or Quito where lies the equator. It`s set up like a theme park (well, I guess it is a theme park) for families and tourists. I got into the museum for free cuz when I asked a guide if it was worth the $3 after paying $2 to get in, he said he didn`t agree with the price and walked in with me, ticketless, saying ¨she`s with me¨. Woo! I did pay for the planetarium show, though, which was awesome - I don`t remember being in planetarium since I was a kid. And lemme tell you, you may not think stepping across a line on the ground over and over again is cool, but it was pretty neat jumping from the Northern to the Southern Hemisphere with each step.

The day after, yesterday, I took a bus to Otavalo, this pretty little town north of Quito. Today I went to visit the Parque de Cóndor, an exhibition of various predatory birds of the area including condors, falcons, hawks, eagles, and different types of owls. I spent a long time sitting in front of the falcon cage - I have a particular affinity for them since the San Pedro ceremony in Vilcabamba. Then at the end the falconer gave the few tourists who were there a bit of a show, bringing out a few of the birds in turn and flying them, much to our delight.

I finally got my package sent - it`ll arrive at Sarah`s once again, hopefully before I get back to Canada.

Tomorrow I travel to Colombia!!

Posted by The Cat 13:02 Comments (0)

Quito, Day 3

El Centro del Mundo

Hola amigos, today I walked around Quito`s Old Town for hours and hours, trying to see as much as I could in as little time as possible. I checked out the art in Parque El Ejido, walked past the legislative palace, into Parque La Alameda, afterwhich I caught a glimpse of the incredible basilica up on the hill. Oooh I gotta post pictures of that baby. I beelined it there and spent a couple hours gawking at the impressive stone structure and its elaborate gothic-like stone gargoyles and buttresses. And the view from the tower? Woowee! I walked around to the various plazas, saw a few more less impressive churches, turned down a 40-something year old guy who wanted me to come live with him, and headed back up the the New Town.

I`ll stay one more full day to take a bus to the equator tomorrow, then head to Otavalo on Monday. I really like Quito, but knowing I don`t have a whole lot of time I`m itching to get to Colombia! My first stop there will be San Augustin.

Posted by The Cat 17:51 Comments (0)

Quito, Day 2

So much to do! So much to see!

sunny

From what I`ve seen of Quito so far, it`s bustling, vibrant, full of tourists and travel agencies, but with an old South American feel retained within its walls that make it a city worth visiting. I`m staying in a place called Hostel Vamosa in the middle of a rather touristy, but safer, area in Quito´s ´new town` called Mariscal Sucre. The ´new town` is the more business-oriented part of Quito, has lots of trendy shops and cafes, and is a bit more expensive to stay, but it seemed to be the better choice.

I actually haven`t ventured down to the ´old town` yet, but it`s supposed to be a better slice of true South American culture with its old colonial buildings and museums. Today I only walked down as far as the massive Parque El Ejido in between the two sections and plan to wander further tomorrow. If need be, there is a convenient (and cheap - $0.25) trolley service that connects the north and south of the city, a much better option than the $5-7 taxi you`d be taking if you had to get back to your hostel at night.

My hostel is friendly and clean, always good things. There are paintings all over the walls, and the walls are all bright reds and oranges, so it`s nice and cheery. I`m in a dorm of 4 beds except no one else is there, so I get a huge second room with a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the street all to myself. The beds are less than great, but I`m not complaining: I shuffled the boards holding the mattress up a bit and it`s a bit better, a bit more even.

Today I went into the Museo del Banco Central, a massive building with archeological artifacts from the different ancient cultures that sprung up in Ecuador, Colonial art, Republican art, and Modern art. Next door was the Casa de la Cultura which has an awesome exhibit of the artwork of Washington Masquera that I really enjoyed. His art is mostly ink and watercolours, very simple but expressive. After that I had a wander in the park, swang a bit on a swing, received a red flower from a messenger boy (he said it was from one of the guys playing futbol), and made my way up Av. Amazonas back to my hostel.

And now I`m famished! Gotta go get dinner.

Posted by The Cat 14:40 Comments (0)

Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Day 1

An icky city

rain

My informant was wrong: Santo Domingo isn`t very nice. Actually yesterday before I left Montañita, I bought some banners on chains (for street performance... I`m not sure of their actual name) from an artesan shop and the girl there said it wasn`t worth seeing. Ah well. I arrived at 1am this morning and didn`t want to sit on another bus, so here I am for today.

At the moment I`m putting more photos onto CDs to clear up space on my camera, but also in preparation to send one more package home. I`m carrying things I don`t need!

All is well otherwise. It`s raining here, the city is dirty and busy and there`s not much to see: a few pricey shops, a forgettable market, dingy hostels, and it smells bad. Thumbs down to this place. Quito here I come! I`ll travel again tomorrow morning.

Posted by The Cat 13:43 Comments (0)

Montañita, Day 7

How the time flies

sunny 30 °C

Well I`ve finally packed my bags and will be taking a bus up the coast to Manta and then catching another bus to Santo Domingo de los Colorados en la sierra (mountains). I`ve had a wild time in Montañita and just couldn`t leave earlier.

After my first couple days here I`d been spending so much time at the house that my artesania friends rent that I actually moved my stuff there, seeing that it was pointless to pay for a hostel I was never at.

What a life these people lead! It`s free, full of people coming and going, but always with a sense of community and brotherhood. When one person in the family has money, everyone has money; when one person has food, everyone eats. I became part of the ¨family¨ one of my first nights partying there and have a whole collection of crazy photos to commemorate the initiation. I`ve learned a few things about the different kinds of art they sell, how to make devil sticks, I learned some tricks with batons that you light on fire, and, of course, I have partied hard and slept little. I like that even without knowing Spanish well I can hang out and make good friends with people who don`t know a word of English.

Anyway, I`ll take it easy and catch up on sleep after today. I hear Santo Domingo is beautiful and I look forward to moving on now that I`ve made that decision to leave the crazy Argentinians.

Posted by The Cat 09:00 Comments (0)

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