04/23/2012, Chimborazo Mountain, Ecuador
While in Riobamba we took a side trip to the highest mountain in Ecuador (approx.. 20,000 feet) Chimborazo. We had a great drive through the countryside and we were very lucky to end up actually seeing the top of the mountain as this time of year it is mostly obscured by clouds. We really enjoyed seeing the protected Llamas and Vicuna's of the park. You can actually climb quite high up the mountainside with three refuges along the way.
Unfortunately when we arrived at the first refuge (by car) Reg got altitude sickness and Emma was not feeling that great either. Going from sea level to 14,000 feet above in a short period of time does not allow your body to acclimatize. Alia, Alfredo and myself made it up to the first cairn with many stops along the way while viewing all of the crosses of people who had "passed" while on the mountain!!!
We had coca tea, which is supposed to help with altitude sickness and shared a bowl of the most delicious soup made with veggies and Ecuadorian Quinoa. The drive up and down was spectacular and we felt that we might have been on another planet!!! The last few pics shows the edge of the glacier. It was a great side trip well worth seeing.
04/23/2012, Guamote, Ecuador
Another side trip was to the village of Guamote to see the Thursday market. It was absolutely fascinating. As Reg is fond of saying I was actually taller than most of the people in the village!!! It was great to see all of the activity by the indigenous people wearing traditional clothing. Shoes, shoes, everywhere - we could not believe the number of stalls selling shoes and of course the famous fedora type hats.
They come in their thousands to sell sheep, pigs, cattle, horses, llamas, potatoes, cereals, wool, handicrafts, clothing and tools. Others simply come out of custom and ancestral ritual to meet with friends and take advantage of this time to catch up on the fascinating cosmo-visions that they share.
The exchange of goods or bartering as a form of trade still exists in Guamote.
We really enjoyed the visit and wished we had enough time to stay for another Thursday and see it all again.
04/23/2012, Riobamba, Ecuador
We had a great drive from Guayaquil to Riobamba. The countryside was beautiful. Lots of small farms with small fields being worked right up the sides of some very big hills/mountains!!! Riobamba was a very busy place with lots of traffic. The hostel was good, people very nice, food was good but beds a bit lumpy!! We enjoyed the famous dish "Hornado" which is roasted pork topped with pork rind, served with a corn type salad and potatoes. All the drinks are freshly made from local fruit. The experience of ordering this meal in the Mercado (market) was very interesting and not sure if we could have handled it without Alfredo and Emma there to help us with Spanish. As soon as you walk in you are bombarded with women trying to seat you at a table in front of a stall where the whole pig is roasted and waiting for you. Once you choose a table then you would get your meal from the stall located behind the table. Other women come along and sell you the drinks and the extra potatoes as a side dish. It was a fun experience. Later that night we enjoyed a fire in the hostel provided by the owner.
04/23/2012, The Coast of Ecuador
We spent some time in Montanita which is the village that Alfredo and Emma had their hostel. We had dinner at night and strolled around the town. There are numerous stands where you can buy any king of drink you want and walk around town with it.
The next day we stopped at the beach again on the way back through Guayaquil. Alfredo did some surfing. Alia and Emma swam and then Alia rode the surf board into shore a few times. Emma says the place has changed dramatically since they were there. A lot more people etc. It is kind of like Grand Bend on Steroids. Back to Guayaquil for one night and then onto the rest of our journey!!!
04/23/2012, Drive from Guayaquil to the Coast
We were quite glad to hit the road and get out of the city and into the cool ocean breezes. Stopped at a neat little village on the beach for lunch. We had logastina which is a type of lobster. We stopped at a great "miramar" lookout that used to be an old convent built into the side of a big hill overlooking the ocean.
After we checked into our hostel on the beach in Ayampe, Alfredo and the girls went for a swim at another beach with less waves and current. Reg and I enjoyed a beer and watched. We went with a tour guide on a smaller boat to a beach on a island. Dad and his three sons - the two younger ones were fun to watch as they were excited about going even though dad says they have gone many times. They dropped us off on the beach (quite a feat) and anchored off. They fished and waited while we hung out on the beach. Alfredo, Emma and Alia went snorkeling and had a great time. Reg did some exploring and got sun burnt and I sat in the shade to read. The hostel was nice - small cabins and great dogs as noted in one of my pics.