A Travellerspoint blog

January 25

Cuenca

Hurrah! I finally felt well enough and had enough energy to go exploring Cuenca with Don. He has gone out the last two days by himself and has gotten pretty well orientated here. Instead of walking down the steep stairs at the back of the house, we went down to the mall and took the bus downtown. Had a good time looking around, visited a couple of museums (churches) and caught the bus back just as it started to rain. Bought a postcard to send to Aly ($.30) and mailed it for $2.00. While I was under the weather, Don took this great shot of an indigenous Indian at the mall, she was obviously having her very first escalator ride. Priceless!
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He also took this picture from the bottom of the hill showing where our house is located. It is the house just above and to the right of the large apartment building. You can also see the Turi church on the top of the mountain which is also to the right of our house. Everything in Ecuador is up or down. Luckily downtown is mostly level! (And I though New Zealand was bad!)
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Posted by katdill 17:46 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

The Ecuadorean Jungle


View Ecuador and Peru on katdill's travel map.

Well, the jungle is great! We had 4 days at La Selva Lodge and had mostly sunshine. This is the rainy season, but it only rained on us during the boat ride from Coca to the lodge. We were joined for the Spanish school part by 3 other people and 2 teachers. Unfortunately, the 20 hours of instruction we were supposed to get was reduced to about 6, because we had to share our teacher with another student (only 2 students per teacher in class) and we all wanted to spend as much time as we could in the jungle. We had a jungle trip, either a hike or a canoe ride, or combination of both, every morning and again late in the afternoon. Our native Spanish speaking guide was very good - showing us different plants and their uses, bugs, monkeys, butterflies, birds - and our Spanish teachers translated for us. One of the most impressive tricks he showed us was cutting a section about 3 feet long from the trunk of a young tree, about 1 1/2" in diameter, and brought it to the group and gave us all a drink for fresh clean water that was just gushing out of this piece of trunk. They call it water vine. Amazing! They have a bird tower built around the trunk of a ceiba tree, which goes 45 meters in the air. It's quite a climb to get up there, but we saw some toucans and other birds.
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Unfortunately, I started feeling sick the last day or two (just a bad cold, I think or an allergic reaction to the molds) and found the traveling out of the jungle to Coca and then Quito and then Cuenca trying. But now we're settled into our place in Cuenca and I've spent most of the time sitting drinking tea or sleeping so I'm starting to feel better.
By the way, there was an 80 year old woman, travelling by herself, who had come to the lodge to join a birdwatching group. They were very serious bird watchers. She said she had been saving money for a new car, but decided to spend it on the trip because she didn't know if she would outlive her old car! So it just goes to show anyone can do it.

Posted by katdill 08:04 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

January 15

Tena to Coca

We had a lovely little hotel in Tena, right on the river. Woke up this morning and birdwatched from bed! After breakfast in the riverside dining room, we did a little walkabout town before going to the bus depot. We caught a different bus company, more local, less touristy! Took less than 5 hours from Tena to Coca. Very many stops with people jumping on and off the bus wherever they wished and the conductor somehow knew how much to charge them for their trip from A to B. At one point we had a little girl on the bus with her young chicken in a bag with just it's head sticking out! I guess she had bought her to take home to fatten or for eggs. Although the scenery was great, very mountainous with precipitous drops, it has seemed to be a people day because of all the different people we saw on the bus and the road. So you get two pictures today, Albert making friends on the bus and a very young girl with her younger sibling. We have managed two days on the road without having anyone who spoke English help us out. This is due to Don's study of Spanish before we left and it has worked, halting as it is, it works! Tomorrow the jungle awaits us!
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Posted by katdill 16:02 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

January 14

Travel day

This morning we decided not to stop at Baeza, because it is pretty small and not far enough along on the road to Coca. We traveled to Tena instead. Daniel drove us to the Quito bus terminal, which took an hour. A bus was leaving for Tena, about 20 minutes after we arrived, so that worked out well. Bus fare is so cheap, it cost $12.00 US for the two of us for a 5 1/2 hour bus ride on a comfortable bus. Lots of stops and people getting on to sell stuff - ice cream, mangoes, candy bars, bags of milk - and very mountainous country. We crossed the continental divide at approximately 12,000 feet. Clouds everywhere and a little rain. Found a nice hotel to stay in and they have WIFI, hence this post. On to Coca tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Here's a picture of some of the country we traveled thru today.DSC01843.jpg

Posted by katdill 16:25 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

January 13 for sure today

Yes, I blew it yesterday. For some reason, around supper time we started thinking it was the 13th and our anniversary. Wrong, but now we've celebrated it twice!
Today was Culture Day for us. We took the trolley (kind of rapid transit) into the Old Town and walked down cobble streets, visited museums and churches, churches, churches! It is amazing the number of huge cathedrals there are in such a small area. I don't know how they could have afforded to build them all, because the population was not as large 100 or more years ago. They are gorgeous, with gold leaf, sculpture, and paintings pretty much covering every inch of the walls and ceilings. The largest one we left for last, the Basilica. We climbed up above the roof of the sanctuary and climbed up into the cupola tower. Amazing view of the city in all directions. So that is the picture you get today. Us in the cupola, taken by a young Chilean man, who works for a Chilean winery and had perfect English!
Tomorrow we take the bus to Baeza and then the next day to Coca to join the language school group Monday morning. We know we won't have internet while in the Amazon and we are doubtful about the next two nights as well, so if there are no posts do not worry. We'll catch up later.
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Posted by katdill 17:57 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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