Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Help! We're stuck in Ecuador with a mad Dutchman!

In Quenca with Jan we visited and revisited every market place we could find. Jan and Brian enjoyed roast pig and somehow Jan ran into every English speaking person in Ecuador. (It must be a talent?) We went to a peoples market where they sold everything from cookie cutters to dogs. There were tons of animals for sale and one cage held both kittens and rabbits. You could buy a pure bred collie for $75. Shar Pei's are very popular here.

After re-exploring Quenca we headed off to Alausi to take the fabulous train ride. The lady in Cuenca at the Macondo Hostel where we were staying advised the train trip from Riobamba to Alausi was kindof boring (just like a bus ride) and suggested we just do the Alausi run which includes the famous Devil's nose. We took her advice and as it turned out it was fortuitous as there had been a slide on the Riobamba to Alausi run and we couldn't have got through that way anyways. We were first at the station at 7 a.m. to buy tickets but still got bumped to the second train ride at 9:30 a.m. It was fabulous. Shelley went EEEEEEEEEK a good part of the trip. They have banned sitting on top of the train since a young oriental couple was decapitated a year ago. So now what they do is once they get out of sight of the station the crew asks for an extra dollar to ride on top and everybody supplements the crew's salary and troops up to the roof. They make you get back down before you arrive back at the station. There were a ton of people who had showed up early to buy tickets to take the train who got bumped by organized tour groups who were bussed in from Riobamba. Hardy seems fair. We had to be quite assertive to keep our place in line.

PS: Road kill now 2 horses, 1 pig and 3 cows (discounting, of course, dogs).

In Alausi we were kept awake most of the night as it was Easter Saturday and the people were partying hardy. Our hotel room stank as the drains were backed up. Pretty disgusting!

We set off to Riobamba Sunday afternoon and could not find cappuccino anywhere.
That says it all. We rented quads (ATVs) for $10 an hour for a double seater and explored the country side acting like teenagers. It was fun. We went half way up Tungurahua volcano but still could not see the peak as it was in the clouds. We did see smoke coming out of the mountain though while we were in Riobamba . Kindof funny knowing there's an active volcano happening only a couple of k's away. We've found cappuccino here and some delightful restaurants. Our plan is to stay today and one more day and then head off to Quito until we leave. We'll do day trips out of Quito. Principally to one of the largest markets in Ecuador - Otavalo.

We're in Banos now and are very much enjoying it here.

We're looking forward to getting home and getting the boat ready to sell so we can start our new life. We've been doing an extraordinary amount of moving around and it'll be nice to settle for awhile. We'll be sending our last missive from Quito some time on the weekend.

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