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The Jungle Trip
Phoebe
04/24/2012, Near Puyo, Ecuador

We finally arrived at our lodge Huella Verde near Puyo. We arrived at a bridge and then we had to drive for about ½ hour. Then we parked at another bridge and walked about 1.5 kms into the jungle.

The owner brings rubber boots and believe me you need them. It was quite a hike. The setting is beautiful, beds were fantastic (including insect netting) and the food was great too. We took a river tour on a long, narrow canoe that was fashioned out of one tree trunk. There were plenty of rapids for excitement. We did stop at a jungle home where Alfredo and Emma enjoyed some "chicha" a local fermented drink (Alia, Reg and I, chickened out- worried about our tummies, ha ha).

There was one young man on the bow and one on the stern. There were lots of places where they both had to get out and push the canoe upriver on the return trip. On the way back, to the lodge, we caught a ride with the canoe owner. Alia, Alfredo, Emma and Reg rode in the back (see pics) and I rode in the front with another girl in the middle. That was quite a trip and we are amazed at how many rivers they drive through. The road is very rough and most of the vehicles get beat up pretty bad.

We did not see much wildlife as the owner explained to us that most of the animals are hunted by the local people. It is unfortunate but that is how they live, day to day. I think if you want a true jungle experience you would have to go to one of the lodges that are located a day or two inland. We had a relaxing time there and experienced a little taste of the jungle!!!

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The Road to Puyo
Phoebe
04/24/2012, Near Puyo, Ecuador

Onto the next part of our journey-jungle land. In the interest of saving time we talked to someone at the hostel in Riobamba and decided, based on the positive comments, to take a direct road to Puyo instead of having to go around. Suffice to say it was a very interesting trip. As you will see in the pics (3) the road was washed out in many places due to the rainy season. Lucky for us it had not rained too heavy for a few days so the road repair team were on the job and it was passable. Everywhere were big gullies where the water had washed through down to the valley below. We did drop into Baños and had a coffee and enjoyed the views along the road.

On our way to our lodge outside of Puyo we stopped at two places, one a el mono (monkey) reserve and the Jardin Botãnico Las Orquideas ("The Orchids" Botanical Garden). The reserve was pretty disappointing and we found out late that they were in the process of being closed down. They were operated by foreign students which I am sure meant well but they were in-experienced. We did feel that the monkeys were well fed so I included a few pics. The botanical gardens, however, was well worth the 4 hour tour by the Sr Omar Tello, B. The orchid preserve is family operated and he has basically brought a chunk of ruined forest back to its original state. I cannot begin to describe the plant life and the many orchids he showed us. Feel free to check out the website and if you ever wanted to make a donation to a worthy cause and you love plants this may be it. I have posted the website under my links.

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Chimborazo
Phoebe
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.

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Guamote Thursday Market
Phoebe
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.

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Riobamba
Phoebe
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.

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Montanita
Phoebe
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!!!

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