Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ecuador: Trip to Baños and Tungurahua

Our flight left at like, 1:30 am on May 14th, and we arrived in Ecuador around 2 in the afternoon (which is two hours later than CA time). We flew from LAX to San Salvador, El Salvador (about a six hour flight or so)-- and just had a transfer there, and then from El Salvador to San José, Costa Rica (a two hour flight), where we were supposed to have a one hour layover, but ended up boarding just as they were about to leave! From there we went to Quito, Ecuador (which was a three hour flight). Yay! We made it to Ecuador! And {surprisingly} Nathan was excellent during the flight-- all the way until the last half hour or so. But really, for the most part he was great! :) (Thank you dollar store toys.)

Quick funny story. I knew that I'd be meeting a lot of people there, but I really didn't know who to expect. And after you arrive and get your luggage, there's like a small crowd of extended family waiting to greet you. So, naturally, I started hugging and kissing everyone on the cheeks, like everyone does down there. Well, there was this one kid that I totally hugged and everything.. "¡Hola, mijo! ¿Cómo estás?"-- kind of like, Hi, sweetie, how are you? Well, I thought he was part of the family waiting for us, and after a little while of him following me around, I realized was actually just one of the kids begging for money from tourists that were getting off the plane. {With a suuuper sad face...} "Señoritaaaa... por favorrr..." {Whoops! My bad.}

Any way! We went to lunch and got settled in at Freddy's aunt and uncle's house-- Oswaldo and Betty-- and everyone came over to see us. Nathan got to meet and play with his cousins, Camila and Valentina. He really liked them.
Especially Vale-- because she's a little older than him, so she's more fun to play with. :) Then this was while we were visiting Freddy's grandma on his dad's side-- where Nathan realized how much he likes {or loves} child-size plastic chairs.So, we arrived to Ecuador on Saturday, and the following Tuesday we left for a sweet road trip to Baños, which is the city at the base of the volcano, Tungurahua. We wanted to go to Baños because Freddy's grandma really wanted to go visit her Virgin Mary. {The way I understand it, it's like having a favorite temple to go to or something... so when you're in that part of the world, you stop by to see it.} And, more than that, it's a way touristy place to go, so we went! It's about a three hour drive to get there-- not too bad. And on the way we stopped and took pictures with the Cotopaxi-- it's a "nevado" which, I don't think there's a word for in English. It means, a volcano that's covered in snow. And I guess it was the clearest day any of the family had ever seen. So we took pictures.

Here we have F's aunts-- Elvie, Naida, Yvonne, then his mom, Monica, Nathan, Freddy, and then his uncle, Marco {I was taking the picture..}.
And a better view-- actually taken while we were stopped getting gas (which, by the way, is $1.48 a gallon. I thought it was per liter, but no-- seriously, it's a gallon. Whaaaat?)
After breakfast {or more like brunch..} Monica and her mom were surprised when Freddy wanted to take a picture of them exiting the bathroom-- until he pointed out that they had used the men's bathroom. Oops!
Every city along the way has something they're famous for. We got some of the famous Salcedo ice cream as we passed through Salcedo, Ecuador. They have four layers of various exotic fruits (and they're surprisingly healthy). My mouth is watering just thinking about them! They were suuuper good! Poor Nathan missed out on them (that time)-- he was asleep and woke up just as we finished them. :(
When we got to Baños, we stayed at the Hotel Acapulco, just across the-- what is that-- like park square-- from the Catholic church that we were there to see. Freddy's up on the balcony just outside our room-- Nathan and I are there on the sidewalk.
And here we are in the park square thing-- with the church behind us to the left. :)
One fun fact-- on that trip, Nathan learned how to cross his fingers and would often entertain himself just crossing and uncrossing his fingers. Too cute.
We had gone with Zoila, Freddy's grandma, to the Catholic mass the night before, so the next day we spent doing more touristy things. We drove up the volcano-- and took some pretty pictures... Uhh-- I think this might be me with the "cascada" or waterfall called Pailon del Diablo-- the Devil's Cauldron.. but I'll be honest.. I'm not positive which one it is-- there are so many..
THEN! We had a great idea to go on a "tarabita" or-- uhh-- like a cable car type thing. Except with wayyy less safety precautions than they would ever have here in the States. {Pretty sure it was a cable that went from one side to the other using like, an old lawn mower motor or something. Or it seemed like it anyway.. And seat belts? Ha. Or even seats? Double ha. Or anything to hang on to?!? Uhh-- try, the edge of the cable car.}
So here we are, mid-ride, and Nathan wasn't loving it. Look verrrry closely, and you can see the cable that we went across on-- it starts on the left side, about the middle of the picture. But you can't really see it more than like, half way across the picture, but the cable goes allll the way across the canyon, over the waterfalls, and back again. And that's a bridge down there-- to walk across, if you don't have the guts to cross on the tarabita. :PAnd there we are, as we're about to cross the waterfall, called the Manto de la Novia-- or the Veil of the Bride. We're in that tiny, red cable car, which when we got that far across, it didn't seem like such a great idea.
And after the ride, when we were glad to have survived.
After that, we stopped to try fresh sugar cane. That was pretty good-- I thought it would be ridiculously sugary-sweet, but no, it was just like good-amount-sweet.
We had great plans to do other fun things, but then they noticed that the volcano started erupting a lot more than it usually does*, and Freddy's grandma got pretty scared, so we headed down the mountain and out of Baños. It sure was a fun trip! And we got to see a lot of neat things! :)
*Tungurahua is an active volcano, and always has some ash coming from it. But supposedly it has a huge eruption every thousand years or something, and it's due for another big one. Or more like over due. It's like California waiting for THE BIG ONE-- the earthquake. But I guess the last time everyone was told to evacuate because they thought it was erupting, a whole bunch of thieves came in and robbed everyone. So now when they tell people to evacuate, they're like, Suuuure we will... (Roll eyes).

(Wow. I don't think it's ever taken me this long to blog before.. But I kind of want to add as much detail as possible.. For you to read, and for me to remember..)


  1. Gooooo, Tracy! You're doing great! Keep blogging!

    ({snicker} You hugged and kissed a stranger...)

  2. So...then...Nevada...is a girl volcano covered in snow?