“It has become difficult to be a pioneer. The world has been done. There are only the adventurers now, this new breed of fanatic: rangy large-toothed guys seeking not knowledge or even territory, but novelty, managed suffering, ‘experience’, material sponsorship – K2 by canoe, the Amazon by bike, the North Pole on stilts.”
Quoted from “The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places” by William Aktins
No, we were not suffering from the delusion that we were going on a unique adventure nor to go to places where few had tread. Just a nice vacation with hopefully no suffering and without expectations of material sponsorship, e.g., such as so-called “influencers” who demand free board and lodging when they travel in return for their publicity. The main purpose of our trip was one-week in Galapagos, but the flight was too long to consider only one week in Ecuador. Besides, we had enjoyed our travels there years before and were looking forward to a few places we had not visited.
Quito: we had stayed in the old town on our first trip in a huge hostel called the Gran Gringo, which had long since disappeared. We stayed in the old town for a couple of nights before realizing that the area had become too dangerous and the streets were empty in the evening, soon relocating to the “New Town.”
We took a day trip to Otavalo, a small town we a great market. We had been there before, but the pictures we had taken were lost. We only had slide film in those days, and since we were traveling for a longer time, we asked two Americans to take our exposed rolls of film and mail it from the US to Europe. There were skeptical, fearing that we put cocaine in the film and wanted them to smuggle it, but we assured them that it was only film and that it they were afraid, they should not take it. Well, they took the film but never mailed it and probably threw them away before flying back to the States.
A spectacular ride down to Baňos, also known as the “Gateway to the Amazon”.
One thing we really wanted to do on our first trip to Ecuador was ride on the roof of train down to Guayaquil. The train no longer traveled that far, but we still wanted to experience it. We got up very early to get a space on the roof, but hordes of other tourists were already there. It was a spectacular ride with great views, but unfortunately the train broke down shortly after descending into a valley. It was a long hike up to a place where there were buses, but of course with insufficient seats for all. It became a bit unpleasant with loud arguments between tourists.
We were fortunate to get seat on a bus to Cuenca.
Parque Nacional Cajas, 28,800 hectare pack approx. 30 km west of Cuenca
Volcanic crater lake of Quilota
Gualaceo market, 25 km west of Cuenca
Our daughter had been in an exchange program with high school students from Ecuador. José stayed with us for two months and our daughter with his family for two months the following year. Of course, we visited his family when we were there.
They also drove us to the site where the equator passed through Ecuador.
We then spent a fabulous week touring Galapagos, which is described in a separate post on my blog.
After returning to the mainland, we headed up into the Andes and spent a few days hiking. We stayed at a great small inn, super eco-friendly, called Black Sheep and run by two US Americans. They claimed that they had found their calling in life there, but years later I saw that the place was for sale for the not insubstantial sum of $300,000.
Black Sheep Inn
Hiking in the area
Wish we had had more time!