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(118) Trains,Plains and automobiles oh and crutches!!!

September 28, 2015


Having received a message that Amanda had put a nail through her foot was horrible and I was so worried about her. She had however decided she was coming anyway but would be on crutches. Having planned on her not bringing her bike it shouldn’t make to much difference but did mean we would have to take it easy which I was more then happy with. The plus side of her being on crutches was I would at least be able to keep up with her and use the many nail related punes on her. I just hoped she had fun and rested as well which I will make sure she does 🙂 

Friday 7th August

Needing to leave the hostel at 8am to get to the airport in time meant an early start, so once i’d had breakfast I made my way around the corner to the bus stop that took me to the city’s north terminal. From here it was a direct bus to the airport and being early was much faster then it could have been. With a half an hour wait Amanda arrived through the doors with a porter helping her with her bags. It was amazing to see her and incredible she still came out to Ecuador on crutches. We made our way back to the bus station and headed for Quito.

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It was amazing catching up on news of home and Amanda was already laughing at me getting stuck in the revolving gates while carrying her bags. Once back at the stop near the hostel I was pleased it was just 30 metres to the door where we could leave her things and go and get food. I knew she was tired but also knew she would sleep much better once she had eaten.

IMG_0188It didn’t take her long to put her feet up

After a nice lunch discussing the plan we slowly made our way back to the hostel to go through the things she had brought out. With letters from home I was excited but wanted to leave them for a bit before I opened them. Having a lot to prepare before we headed out tomorrow I knew we had to make the most of the time we had and check the dates.

Once we had made a solid plan I headed back to the tour office, booked the flights into the jungle, the lodge and arranged a three day tour once back in Quito. With this all confirmed and paid for I headed back to see if Amanda needed anything before she slept.

Having gone through the things she had brought out and now having the replacement Rohloff hub it was a good time to go and get it changed over while she slept. I grabbed my bike injected the cleaning fluid in to the hub and made my way to the shop. Jösè was there and more then happy to help me change the hub. With him having all the tools it was fun working on it and seeing it all come apart and go back together smoothly. It took about an hour and a half to change the hub and do a service but was such a relief to have it done. It meant I would no longer have to jump gears to ride and would be a whole lot easier. With the hub fixed I headed back and went through a few things while Amanda slept. Having letters there was amazing but I still wanted to wait. They meant so much to me and wanted to make the most of them without rushing.

As Amanda rejoined me from the land of nod we went through the things we needed for the following 11 days and packed them in to our bags. Not having her bike due to her injury and time scale meant we could travel light and make our lives easier. Our flights were booked for 9.30am meaning another early start so once we had gone through our kit we could relax have a nice meal and an earlyish night for the start of our adventure. We just hoped we did’t have anyone in our room who snored and allowed us to get a good nights sleep.

Saturday 8th August

Normally rubbish in the morning we got up at 6am and I wondered around the room tripping over everything and headed down for breakfast. The night guard was very kind and made us breakfast as it was so early and slowly I started to think straight. Amanda was already like a well oiled machine with a limp and we were soon ready and heading out the door. We were both excited to be heading for the jungle as  it was somewhere Amanda and I had always wanted to go to and I think we both needed some time off.

Realising we were a bit late we got on the first bus that arrived but being rush hour was taking longer to get to the station. Once we arrived I went on ahead to try and catch a bus for the airport and make it wait for Amanda. After getting stuck again in the revolving gate I managed to stop a bus just as it was leaving and luckily we made up time not having to wait. By the time we reached the airport and checked in we had just enough time to have a snack before we boarded. Once on the plane we realised that Amanda being on crutches had paid off and were given a seat with tons of leg room.P1020458

Amanda enjoying the legroom while I had to stand and take photos of her 🙂

Being a plane it wasn’t long before we had climbed and cleared the Andes and were soon descending towards the amazon.P1020464

Heading down in to the Amazon Basin

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 Lago Agrio

Our flight landed at Lago Agrio where we were due to get a taxi to town but with a bus waiting for other tourists heading to  Cuyabeno they offered to take us straight there which was amazing. With a 4 hour bus ride plus a stop for lunch it couldn’t have been more perfect. The road out towards the Columbian border was amazing and looked like it would have been put there for the oil industry. Following the pipelines that lined the road the jungle slowly got thicker.

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Ready to go

We finally reached the river where we disembarked and met Daniel the lodge owner who would now take us up river on the motor canoe to the lodge. It was so exciting and we had already seen loads of butterflies.

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A Green-banded Urania moth

After 20 minutes or so we arrived at several tall thatched cabins that were raised above the jungle floor on stilts. They were stunning and so peaceful.

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With hardly anyone there but with a group arriving tomorrow we could sit and have lunch and relax listening to the insects and watch squirrel monkeys swing in the trees on the other side of the river.

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Once we’d had lunch we were told we were of to go piranha fishing in the canoe. we grabbed the thing we needed and started to make our way up river to a small inlet where they feed.

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Me relaxing while Piranha fishing

It was so much fun but we seemed to be feeding them rather then catching them. With so much to see it didn’t matter that we didn’t catch one. There were kingfishers, all kinds of butterflies and on our way back we stopped to watch loads of monkeys cross the river by jumping the gap and landing in the trees the other side.

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Squirrel monkey jumping across the river

It was incredible to see how far they jumped and almost looked like it was in slow motion.

Once back at the lodge Amanda relaxed with her foot up while I went swimming with the kids.

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I was told there were Caymen and Piranha in the river but they wouldn’t be a problem. The water felt amazing and a perfect temperature but felt sorry for Amanda who could’t get her foot wet.

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Daniel and the guide chasing after a canoe that got away

With the light fading we got ready for dinner and while we waited Daniel showed us loads stick insects that clung to the tree next to the restaurant. As night fell the sound of the jungle became more intense and was just incredible. we had only arrived at mid day and yet we had seen so much and couldn’t wait for what lay ahead tomorrow.

IMGP6629This moth would be so hard to spot if it wasn’t on the mozzie net 

Sunday 9th August

After an amazing nights sleep and listening to the sound of the insects in the jungle we got up to have breakfast. Amanda was still on crutches and a large group arrived where we would be taken into the jungle to look for creatures. With it being tricky to walk Daniel the owner decided to take Amanda and I on a different walk while the other guide took the bigger group on a longer walk.

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Amanda was apologetic for her injury but actually it was perfect. With just Amanda and I and the guide we got our own private tour and I think we got to see more as we weren’t making as much noise as the others.

IMGP6673 Amanda getting stuck in


After our guide realising Amanda was more Bear Grylls then whinging pom he took us deeper into the the jungle showing us so much flora and fauna.

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With the assistance of her multi terrain NHS crutches Amanda was crossing bridges and bogs like Tarzan.
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Nothing phased her

With her new upper strength of a Russian pole vaulter she was swigging through the juggle like a pro. Daniel was an awesome guide pointing out creatures we would never have seen without his expert eye and showing us different trees and plants that we had never seen before. One of which was a walking tree that travels up to half a metre a year in search of light and water.

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Tiny horned frog

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Me standing next to a huge tree so big we would never have got it in
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A walking tree that can cover 1/2 a metre a year

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Curly vine

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Amanda walking the log bridge
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After over 3 hours searching the jungle and getting back later then the others we stopped to relax and enjoy time listening and watching the nature come to us. It was great to get back in the water, watch the butterflies and hear the monkeys crashing through the trees. It was incredible to be able to relax in the hammocks, play cards, take a nap and just enjoy where we were knowing it was just what we needed.

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As night fell once again the creatures of the night came out to play along with the spiders. A huge tarantula walked along the handrail next to the restaurant where Daniel picked it up to show us. As we gathered around the spider jumped from his hands and ran making everyone jump back out the way.

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He’s a big boy

It was so funny but amazing to see and was just unbelievable how much we had seen in such a short time. With tea served we joined the others then once finished we were off again to go Caymen spotting. Armed with torches we set off down river in the motor canoe and soon spotted our first cayman.

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They were stunning and I couldn’t believe how many there were. It really felt like an adventure and with a trip down to the big lake tomorrow we still had a lot to see and couldn’t wait.

Monday 10th August

Waking up excited at a three hour boat trip down to the lake we went for breakfast around 8am while we sat and watched a group of monkeys swing from the trees on the other side of the river. We set off around 9 and followed the river down stream making our way through the many narrow cuttings that weaved there way through the jungle.

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Heading through one of the many tiny gaps making the canoe perfect for the job

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There were butterflies everywhere along with many birds a lot of which were kingfishers waiting for the perfect fish. We reached the large lake to start the search for river Dolphins when Amanda spotted one as it dived. From then on we never saw one but I was pleased Amanda had seen it as it was something she had always wanted to see. With the water so warm we were allowed to take a break for half an hour to swim in the lake.

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The water was a reddish brown colour and although there were piraña and Cayman in the lake we should be ok. It felt amazing swimming and frightening a girl by diving down and grabbing her leg as she swam for the boat.

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We set off again and went on for another hour further down stream where we reached a jungle community where we were shown how to make yoka bread. First the plant was dug up and we were surprised at how much root came from one plant.

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It was then peeled washed then grated. From this point it was squashed in a woven sling to remove water then sieved into a flower then put on a round hot stone plate to cook. With nothing added just pure yoka it was incredible and tasted great. It was not only tasty but healthy and would last for up to two weeks.

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Good to see the girls finally working for their keep 🙂

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While Amanda worked in the kitchen I went out huntingIMGP6875

Wringing out the water

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Amanda taking some time out

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Ready

With a go on the local dart gun and a swim in the river it was soon time to take the boat 3 hours back up river. IMGP6887

Heading home

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We were shattered and looked forward to a nap in the hammocks before tea. It had been an amazing day and I was so pleased we had made the effort to do this. Once back at the lodge we were soon fed tea and sat relaxing while the large group were taken off to see the Cayman. I was pleased we had done it the night before as it gave us time to stop and just relax for the rest of the evening and enjoy some wine.

IMGP6949 Our waiting comity 


Tuesday 11th August

Being our last day in the jungle was sad but yet we had seen so much in such a short time. In a way it was good to have this amount of time and then spend the next few days trying to absorb all that we had seen. With the morning free we arranged for a boat ride up river to see what we could see.

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We already noticed how much the river had dropped and see the fish jumping from the water. With just the two of us and the guide we watched and listened for different birds and animals we seemed to be much quieter allowing us to see more kingfishers and even a Toucan flying across the river.While we were listening for birds I got out a squeaky plastic toy I had security brought along and thought I would try and catch out our guide but when I made it squeak he just looked at me and said thats a plastic toy to which Amanda’s burst into laughter. As we turned the boat to head back we could hear monkeys heading towards us. As they reached the river they started to knock the fruit off the trees making them fall and hit the river.

Some of the fruits were huge and would hit the water with a huge splash and as more monkeys reached the river it was like being in a war zone with the water exploding around us. It was an incredible experience and to top it off they all started to jump the river all around us. flying through the air and just catching the trees the other side. It really felt like they were giving us a final show before we left and they made a good job of it. With huge blue morpho butterflies and kingfishers everywhere we cruised down steam to the lodge to have a last swim in the river and pack our things. Daniel and his wife came out to see us and we said goodbye to his amazing family, then Daniel took us and our things down to the bridge to wait for the bus.

knowing we had a flight to catch and no sign of a bus made us nervous and so when it did arrive Daniel asked the driver to drop us at the airport. Not really knowing how long it would take the return leg and whether the driver would drop us off we sat nervous for the next few hours when we finally arrived at the terminal.
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Amanda enjoying the legroom AGAIN while I had to stand and take photos of her AGAIN 🙂

We ran up to the checkin desk and were the last people their. We then made our way through the tiny security control and boarded the plane. I don’t think either of us have ever been to close to missing a flight. Within minutes of sitting down the pilot boarded they shut the doors and we were off.

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Vulcan Cotapaxi

Once again we rose up towards the Andes and were soon descending towards Quito. The plane flew right over the city and circled round to line up for the runway.

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Quito

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With the sun setting lighting up vulcan Cotapaxi it looked incredible. We set off again on the bus back to the city and arrived in town in good time. With a 3 day tour booked for tomorrow it was going to be another early start but it did’t matter. We’d had an amazing time in the jungle and to head somewhere different was exciting. With all the restaurants open we headed out for tea and enjoy a night in the city before our next adventure.

Wednesday 12th August

Needing to get up early I was starting to wonder whether this was a holiday or not but having the next three days planned did feel good. We had breakfast at 7.45am and our guide Pablo arrived at 8am to take us to the Quilotoa creator. We were soon out of the city and after not picking anyone else up we soon realised that we were the only two on the tour and we had our own guide. Being a mountaineer, Pablo knew all the peaks and their heights and was very knowledgable about his country.

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Looking down on Quito and the historical centre

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Amanda enjoying a cup of fresh fruit

We stopped along the way to look down on Quito and see just how many volcanos surround it. After a couple hours in the car we reached the creator and made our way to the edge and looked down into it.

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Quilotoa creator

The view was incredible with a sandy track that lead to the lake he informed us it was 40 minutes down and an hour and forty up. The rim of the volcano reaches a maximum hight of 3,900 metres above sea level with the lake at 3500 metres and a diameter of 3km. This meant roughly a 400 metre  descent into the creator with Amanda on crutches.

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When I called to Amanda to hurry up and then to see the look on the faces of a German family was just brilliant 🙂

We set off ready to turn back if it got to tough and after 40 minutes we reached the lake edge with Amanda still feeling great. We sat at the lake edge and just took in the fact we were sat in a creator of a massive volcano and it just felt incredible.

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knowing that we needed to get to Baños that evening I adjusted the length of her crunches for the way up and reached the top an hour after starting. It was amazing how she powered up the hill to the disgust of people walking down planning on taking the mules up but passing a female on crutches now gave them no excuse. As we climbed I told Amanda that she was starting to look weak and maybe she should take a mule to which her speed increased to my amusement. She ended up being so fast I even struggled to keep up.

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Amanda looking weak as she climbs the little hill 🙂

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 The climbers salut after reaching the top

We sat with Pedro and had lunch and with her foot now dusty from the track Pedro cleaned and redressed Amanda’s foot with local remedies. With lunch out the way and having had an early start we were both shattered so fell asleep while he drove us to our next stop and the town of Baños. Pedro was an amazing guide with his knowledge of the mountains and the history of his country but after about half an hour we all fell silent as we slept until we reach the town.

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Catching Amanda taking a nap

Baños at 1,820 metres (5,971 feet) is located on the northern foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, at an elevation of 5,023metres whose activity has been characterised by frequent powerful ash explosions and lava flows which can be seen from Baños. With over 60 waterfalls and the thermal springs heated from the volcano Baños has become a popular tourist destination. When we arrived it looked like it was a nice town and a lot bigger then we imagined. By the time we reached our hotel it was already getting late and so once he had shown us both to our rooms we met again in the reception where he took us for dinner. I had mentioned I was hungry and so arriving at a steak house was amazing and just what we needed. Being a mountain guide I started to ask how much it would cost to climb Cotopaxi and with that I got more and more keen to climb the mountain. As we made plans for the coming future we discussed our plans for the following day deciding it good to get up really early and head to the thermal baths to miss the crowds. Now we had an early morning planned we needed to get another early night to be fresh the next day of excitement.

 

Thursday 13th August

With the alarm set for 5.45am I got up packed my things and joined Amanda in reception to meet Pedro who was outside at 7 ready to take us to the thermal pools.

Baños de Agua Santa (Spanish for Baths of Holy Water  ) is named after the hot springs located around the city which have a reputation of having healing properties due to their content of various minerals which was perfect for Amanda’s foot.

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One of Baños’s famous baths

After five minutes we arrived and were told we had to wear swimming hats to Amanda’s delight. Deciding to have a pink hat we headed towards the first mud coloured pool that was super hot.

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How do I look?

In fact it was so hot we could barely manage 10 minutes before steam was starting to pour from our ears. From here it was the plunge pool which you guessed it was ‘freezing’. Being melt water off the glacier above the water was borderline ice.

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It was however refreshing once we had stopped thrashing around like drowning rats.

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There were other less extreme pools which were amazing and just the right temperature to lay and relax. While our fingers turned into prunes Pedro had his own routine of swimming in the freezing water obviously used to the cold temperature and remained there until we were ready to leave and return to the hotel for breakfast.

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When we arrived back we found that the breakfast was worth waiting for and probably the best breakfast I’d had for a long time. With everything other then a full English fry up I think we both ate more then we would have. once we were totally full we set off again to check out a few waterfalls in the area and a cable car that crossed the gorge. IMGP7091

The valley down river was stunning and soon arrived at an old cable car that was being taken apart and operated by an old truck engine.

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The truck engine that worked the winch with two guys hammering at the bottom of the cage

With the cart needing a bit more hammering we set off again down river passing many waterfalls until we reached one that we were told we had to walk down into to canyon to see it. As we grew closer to the river the sound of the water got louder. The noise was incredible and soon came into view.

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It was around 50 metres high with water thundering through a narrow gap. The access to the water was incredible with a tiny path that lead up right next to it. Being so low I had to pretty much go on my hands and knees through the low narrow gap while Amanda could walk up.

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The power was incredible 

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I think what made it even better was that it was totally unexpected and to see it so close was just brilliant.

 

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I think she was a little scared


Once we looked around and made Amanda scream on the bridge by shaking it we set off back up to the car to head back to the cable car to see if it was fixed. Once we arrived we were told it was safe and boarded the small cage.

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I put Amanda on first to check it was safe

It set off with a jolt and we quickly built up speed as we moved faster over the canyon. After we had reached two thirds of the distance the cage came to a stop when we heard the engine start and the cart started to move at speed sending us flying across the cage. Pleased it did at least have handrails we felt that it was a little more scary then the zip line that was next to it. The trip back along the same cable wasn’t as bad but we were quite pleased we had made it back to the safety of terra firmer.  With the excitement over for the morning we headed for lunch and a bit of time to look around town. After a wonder around we met up with Pedro and headed up to the viewpoint overlooking the town and to see the volcano.

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Amanda getting into the swing of it

We reached the view point but with the volcano behind the clouds it was hard to see its true scale. We went up to the main view point and had a go on the swing that swung out over the edge while we waited for the clouds to clear.

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 Tungurahua volcano,

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The town of Baños deep in the valley below the active volcano

After about half an hour the clouds started to clear revealing the true size of the mountain. Standing at 5,017 metres above Baños at 1,800 metres this active giant dwarfed the town making it look very vulnerable. It was hard to get the full scale of this fire mountain but Pedro informed us that it was the first mountain he had ever climbed and he did it at the age of 11 which was incredible. By this time it was almost 4 pm and we had heard news of riots in Quito and that there were protests on the Pan American highway. We set off to Rio Bamba in the south hoping we wouldn’t get caught up and hoped we would make it to the town of Alausi.

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 Tungurahua volcanos west face

With Pedro taking the road that followed around the edge of the volcano we reached Riobamba with the road remaining clear. We both felt shattered even though we hadn’t done much exercise during the day but the combination of a late nights and very early mornings had taken its toll.  With a train to the devils nose booked for 8am tomorrow it would be another early start but we were excited and knew it would be worth it. We arrived in Alausi at around 8pm and went in search of food.

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Watching as demonstrators clash with the police in Quito 

 

As we sat in the cafe waiting for our food the news came on showing the demonstrations and clashes with the police in the centre of Quito making us feel lucky that we weren’t there. By the time we had eaten and back to our rooms it was almost 10pm and keen to get a good nights sleep. Once our train ride was over we were under our own steam so a good rest would be just what we needed.

Friday 14th August

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After a late night from driving from Baños an early start was going to be hard but we knew it would be worth it. I met Amanda and Pedro at reception feeling very bleary eyed as it was 6.30am and went for breakfast while Pedro went to get our train tickets. We were soon booked on for 8am which was great giving us the rest of the day and so made our way down to the station where the train was waiting.

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Alausi station

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The railway was built back in the 1900’s and linked Quito at 2,850metres to Guayaquil at sea level. The track was relatively easy to build on the plateau and the coastal plains but linking the two was another matter. To build this 3000 workers from Porte Rico and Jamaica were brought in and build the switchback section that drops down the sheer mountain face. Over the twelve kilometre section the track dropped 500 metres and as a result an estimated 2000 people died in the construction which is where it got its name the devils nose.

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Amanda and Pedro

On arrival at the station we were told we were in different seats in the last carriage but soon found there was only about ten people in our carriage and so we could move around with ease. IMGP7356

The train as it heads towards the first bend

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With a guide telling us about the train we set off down the mountain heading towards the Devils nose. The construction was incredible and reminded me of how amazing the trains must have been that bridged the border between Argentina and Chile and how incredible it would have been if it were still steam powered.

IMGP7400Looking down to the tracks below

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It was incredible how steep the cliff we were on was

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With an hour stop at the station way down the valley we relaxed before returning back to Alausi. IMGP7436

The train with the devils nose to the right

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Heading back up we could look down the mountain and see the tracks way below us which was incredible.

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Tickets please!!

With the train ride over and it being so early it gave us time to book the bus to Guayaquil and have lunch. With Pedro’s work done we thanked him for being an amazing guide and I arranged to meet up with him back in Quito after Amanda had left. With the roads still blocked with demonstrations Pedro didn’t hang around and set off on the road north. The road to Guayaquil was stunning with deep valleys dropping away off the side of the road and clouds coming up the valley. We passed the time by looking out at Ecuador and watching an episode of all creatures great and small which I loved being reminded of home and watching it took us out of where we were.

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We loved these huge sculptures of white herons as we reached Guayaquil

After about 5 hours we arrived in the city and looked for a bus to Porte Lopez. With no buses direct the only option was to get to Yippi Yappa hoping we could get a connection to porte Lopez but with time now getting on it was going to be tight. we caught the bus and after another 3 hours we arrived in the town to find there were no more buses. Happy we were within an hours bus ride we decided to look for a hotel and head there early. With Amanda needing the bathroom I waited by the entrance when I noticed the male attendant go in as well. Looking a little shifty I went to check to see him getting down on the floor to look under the door. I shouted at him and he quickly got up and started wiping the surfaces. suddenly the town with a cool name didn’t seem that nice and so needed to get a taxi into town to find  a hotel and get some dinner. Whether the incident at the station had clouded our view of the town but neither of us liked it. knowing it was late we didn’t want to stay to long in the town and wanted to get some rest ready to head to the sea tomorrow.

Saturday 15th August

We got up around 9am and headed straight for the bus station. not wanting to be in the town longer then we needed to be we arrived and booked our seats on the bus and being told it was leaving in 6 minutes which was perfect giving us enough time to grab a fruit salad breakfast. We were soon off and after an hour and a half we arrived at the bus station and caught a tuk took into town.

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Our driver was nice although the fact he was driving from hostel to hostel did make us think what was the catch. When we finally reached some cabanas due to the others being full we soon realised he had brought us to the best place in town to stay and was very reasonable.

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These were amazing and only 100 metres from the sea

With it almost 11am it gave us the rest of the day to relax and enjoy the town. We headed out and wondered along the sea front towards all the fishing boats and watched as the Frigate birds and Brown Pelicans fight for any leftovers.

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These birds were huge

Their size was incredible and we could have watched for hours. Although it was a little early for dinner with the fish having just come in, it was a perfect time to have lunch. With the fish already being cooked we sat and enjoyed the incredible taste of fish straight from the Pacific Ocean. While we sat a guy came round with a huge snake which was the perfect opportunity for Amanda to have it round her neck. She refused at first but when I pointed out that her 3 year old daughter had done it she had no excuse.

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The look on her face was priceless and I was so proud of her courage. We headed back to our cabinas and booked a trip to the isle del Plata the following day which involved whale watching. Although it wasn’t a really early start it still meant we had to be at the shop by 9am to catch the boat. With the rest of the day to spare it gave us time to swim in the ocean and have a nice meal out.

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Relaxing with a game of cards

It was so nice to walk along the beach and wished we had a little more time. I did however feel very lucky to have Amanda with me to enjoy this as I knew it wouldn’t have been the same on my own.

Sunday 16th August

It was exciting having a tour booked to the island and so we were up and out having breakfast while we waited for our guide. we were soon taken to the boat where we were escorted aboard and soon heading out of the harbour. The boat soon picked up speed and making our way out to sea.

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The captain of this boat loves fish

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Brown pelicans flying very close to the water. 

We all kept our eyes open and after just half an hour I spotted a whale jump out of the water, I pointed to where it was when it did it again. The boat changed direction and headed straight for it and as we got close another whale leapt out of the water.

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It was incredible and if I hadn’t taken the photos I’m not sure if I would have believed it. They were just amazing and we all stood in amazement as it slapped its tail on the surface before diving deep once more.

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With no sign of them we set off again and after another 40 minutes we spotted another group with one slapping the water with its huge tail. we were all grinning with excitement of seeing them and we hadn’t even reached the island.

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As we came in closer to land we could see the cliffs white with bird droppings and large frigate birds soaring on the thermals.

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We soon came into land when turtles swam past our boat surrounded by beautifully coloured fish. After carrying Amanda through the shallow water to dry land we set off around the island to see the birds. Being nesting season for the blue footed boobies they were everywhere and incredible to see.

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Hello!!

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Amanda found their name very funny especially when I said I had never seen so many boobies. among these there were Nazcar Boobies and magnificent Frigate birds that the males for two weeks  a year would puff up there chest to show they were looking for a mate.

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The Magnificent Frigate birds

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The coastline was stunning

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Hermit Crab 

The whole island and its wild life was just amazing and I think we were both still trying to come to terms with all that we had seen in such a short space of time. Once back at the boat we were then taken to go snorkelling which was amazing. once we were in the water we could not only see the many amazing fish but we could also hear the whales singing.

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Seeing these fish so close to the surface was incredible

With time getting on we boarded the boat and headed back to the mainland spotting many more whales on the way. It had been an amazing day full of surprises of seeing the wildlife so close.

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Leaving the Island after an incredible day

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Once back we walked along the beach to our cabinas and then out for dinner to reminisce about all we had seen. I don’t think we could have taken any more in if we tried and we were so grateful for the experience.

 

Monday 17th August

It was a tough choice what to do with our day but with a flight booked for the evening and a five hour bus ride to get to Guayaquil it left us with little time either way. We had planned to go north to a beautiful beach but with it still really cloudy and unsure if there would be any problems with the roads we opted for an early start and get to Guayaquil to look around the city.

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Heading along the coast back to Guayaquil 

We headed down the beach for breakfast and then to a bus station with a bus ready to leave in seven minutes. We met two ladies we had met at the lodge and told us they had spent 24 hours on a bus having been trapped between two landslides on the road there from the lodge to Quito and had to climb over one to get to another bus that had come to collect them.

Feeling relieved we had opted to fly we wished them luck for the rest of there trip and picked up a few snacks and settled down for the long bus ride to the city. Arriving back at the massive bus station we then made our way into the city and down to the water front. We found a nice cafe and enjoyed the view of the river as it carried various things down steam with the strong current. While we sat relaxing Amanda suddenly spotted loads of lizards in the tree below us.

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We counted around 10 large lizards in the one tree

There were loads all basking in the sun and enjoying the heat while we were starting to melt. With a few hours to spare we headed into town to look around at the sights and grab some snacks but as usual time soon passed and we needed to head to the airport to fly back to Quito. I was so pleased at what we had fitted into such a short time and had felt like we had relaxed.

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Some of the beautiful buildings in the city

IMGP7808Why did Amanda cross the road?

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Guayaquil

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Amanda enjoying the legroom AGAIN while I had to stand and take photos of her AGAIN 🙂

It was a fifty minute flight to the capital but what we hadn’t taken into the calculations was the buses not running. We landed at the airport around 9pm and found the taxis not only reasonable but also took half the time. We were both shattered and just hoped we had no one who snored at the hostel. We soon arrived and found that the room we had was empty leaving us to catch up on a good nights sleep but this was the last time I would have such great company. I’d had so much fun and couldn’t believe my luck that Amanda found my jokes funny. I didn’t want to think about saying goodbye but just try and enjoy our last day before I was back on my own.

Tuesday 18th August

With limited time it was another early start to get to the historical centre of Quito. We packed away most our things for the moment and caught a bus into town. Although I had already been to many of the sights it was still incredible to see the old churches and buildings.IMGP7825

The army on parade in the old town of Quito after news of Amanda’s arrival

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Saint Francisco Square

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The other advantage was I knew where I was going limiting the time Amanda and I spent in her crutches.

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The old buildings were beautiful

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Amanda showing off her new hat
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I couldn’t believe where the time had gone and already it was time to head back repack and grab some lunch before we headed to the airport. This was I time that I hated as it involved spending time sorting stuff, backing up photos and not spending it having fun. With just enough time to have a snack we grabbed all Amanda’s bags and set off on the bus to the airport.

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“Ok I’m coming!!” This was me for two weeks, I’m so glad she brought crutches I would have really struggled otherwise  🙂 I loved every second

It took a while to get there and even longer to check in. The airline staff were so slow and one was dealing with a group of around 15 sports men. Standing in a cue for 40 minutes wasn’t a great way to say goodbye. With just enough time for a snack it felt weird saying goodbye again. It felt so normal and fun having Amanda join me and the thought of being on my own again was hard. Trying not to think about it I tried to stay positive and see her off. Once she was though the security check I waved goodbye and headed back to Quito. As the sun started to set Cotopaxi sat on the horizon with clear sky’s and a good view of its smoking summit.

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The snow on the south west face has all meltedIMG_0231

Cotapaxi in the first stages of eruption

I knew I wasn’t going to get to climb it when I heard about the eruption but it’s always good to have an excuse to come back and bring some friends!!

I couldn’t believe how fast the time had gone and how much we had seen. It did involve a lot of early starts of which I’m not good at but we had so much fun. Luckily Amanda still found my jokes funny either that or she was being very polite and laughing in the right places and I just hope she saw my humour in this blog. Having her company was so much fun, yet more importantly showed me what an amazing friend she is. With the time passing so quickly it meant so much more that we did and saw so much and how important It was to make the most of the time that we had. Life.

Seeing so much nature was incredible and yet in the grand scale of the natural world we saw just a tiny fraction which makes you wonder how much is really out there.

Having had these last 12 days with Amanda had been incredible and not only shared my trip but encouraged me to do more with my time. If Amanda hadn’t come out I’m not sure if I would have done so much or seen so much and if I had I defiantly wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much. Even after putting a nail through her foot I could see nothing was going to pin her down and I can’t thank her enough for making me laugh and smile  which she did all on crutches. 

 

Thanks for reading xx

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2015 10:43 pm

    Utterly brilliant! So glad you got to have a holiday and so much fun. Ecuador sounds truly amazing – Columbia will have a hard time being more fun. Looking forward to the next instalment . . . R*

  2. Mum and Dad Pitts permalink
    October 9, 2015 1:31 pm

    Amazing pictures.particularly the cycle tourist in the pink bathing hat!!! So glad you had Amanda to share the boat rides etc with Not sure about the tarantula though. Love you LOTS Tim . Love from Martin and Wendy XXX

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