Saturday, July 07, 2012


I am using my new iPad on this trip and I can write posts just fine, but I cannot upload an image. The place that says "choose image" is grayed out. Does anyone have a clue what I am doing wrong?

Friday's Post

Today we rode the bus for the first time.  We walked to the square and it was easy to find the bus to Otavalo.  When we got off the bus there was a taxi dispatcher and we simply told him that we wanted to go to the Panguche Falls.  Quick as a wink a taxi was there.  We hopped in and in about 5 minutes we arrived at the falls area.  It was a lovely spot, the smell of eucalyptus in the air, and the soothing sound of the stream running just off the path.  The falls were quite nice-not as impressive as Glacier, but can there be a lousy waterfall?

We made the mistake of agreeing to let the driver wait for us. We thought it was really nice of him to offer; we would pay for it later.  After we saw the falls the driver took us into Panguche, a community known for its weavers.  He stopped in front of this little shop and we stepped into a shop filled with beautiful wall hangings, sweaters, scarves, tablecloths, wallets, socks, tons of stuff.  Downstairs were 5 looms and other equipment.  I will post a video on Facebook of the young man weaving.  I bought a tablecloth and two wallets.

 After the weavers shop we had the driver take us to Otavalo for lunch.  He stopped at the square, The Plaza of Ponchos, in front of a restaurant.  Bill and Ron asked him how much we owed him, and he said $30!  We were not prepared for that.  Next time we will know better.  Got to learn, I guess. We had a good lunch - shrimp for Ron, and rice with vegetables for me, Bill and Verda shared a "tipica" plate with steak, pork, chicken, potatoes, and some sort of corn.  Afterwards we went shopping in the market.  Ron bought an alpaca sweater, I bought an alpaca poncho, Verda bought a zip front sweater and a beautiful alpaca blanket.  Oh, and I also bought a pair of slippers for these cold tile floors. Finally, we headed for the bus station and found a bus going back to Otavalo.  By the time we got home we were all ready for a drink and some tv time.

Celebration in Cotacachi

Today we relaxed a bit in the morning.  Verda's tummy was acting up, so Ron, Bill and I went out to find a bakery.  As we unlocked the gate, we saw a large group of high school age kids with instruments waiting to march in the parade.  This week is the 150th anniversary of the founding of Cotacachi, so there was a big parade and music in the square til later at night.

After breakfast we walked to the church square and caught a bus to Otavalo. When we got off there was a building that turned out to be a taxi dispatcher.  We arranged for a taxi to take us to Lago Cuycotchi for $5.00.  After our experience the day before with having to pay the driver $30.00 because he waited for us at the falls and took us to Panguche, we had a guy up at the lake who had a cab take us back to Otavalo for a bus home. The buses are so easy to use and cost $.50 for the two of us! We bought the makings for spaghetti and ate in.  Watched some tv and went to bed.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

First day in Cotacachi

Yesterday we went with  Micky, Yolanda, Pamela, and Darla to the Morales Chupa pre-school.  The kids were, as someone put it, Ecuadorable, and I was in charge of taking pictures.  I took shots of the parts of the school that have been repaired and shots of the classroom and of the deplorable state of some of the equipment they have to use.  Wish we could donate a crib - the one they have is awful.  We are going to go shopping and buy diapers, a garbage can, soap, and scissors.  Maybe we can find something for them to play with.

 Later, there was a gathering of ex-pats at the Remax office for 4th of July.  We met a lot of people, all of whom were very friendly and had nothing but good things to say about Ecuador.  Then, Verda and I were invited to go to the shaman and have a cleansing.  It was a very interesting experience.  He used some very sweet-smelling plants, various liquids, sacred stones, and candles.  We didn't learn anything about ourselves; he wasn't a healer per se, but he just worked balancing our energy.  He did different things to each of us, and it seemed he spent the least time with me, but that may just be my impression.  Anyway, it was a "cultural experience." Pam is definitely a woo-woo people.  She told me that they had definitely proven that the first stone laid on the pyramid was the topmost stone, leading one to assume that it was built upside-down and then turned over??? Today we are going to Panguche to see the waterfall.  Panguche is also famous for its weavings.  I am going to buy a tablecloth for home.  And maybe a poncho if they have them there.


My first impression of Ecuador, and of Quito, was the demeanor of the two taxi drivers that we hired to take us to our hotel, "Casa Arbolitta." They were extremely helpful and kind, and worked together to determine where this place was. We ended up having the taxi driver call the hotel and find out for sure if we had the right place, especially since there was nothing to indicate that it was a hotel - no sign, no lights, no impressive building. He was assured that we were in the right place, and we were greeted by Patricio, a young man who spoke good English, and his mother, Jenny, who, with her husband, runs the place. It was a lovely home, with bright colors and interesting art pieces displayed. We were warmly welcomed and shown to our rooms. Ours was bright red, extremely clean, and had a nice bathroom. Jenny made breakfast for us and we were introduced to Lauren, a student at the University of Nebraska, who is in Quito for the summer. She is an architecture student and had come to Quito to work on a project there, was offered a chance to stay for the summer and she said she loved Ecuador so much that she decided to stay. She was renting a room from Jenny and said that Jenny was like her Mom away from home. She was delightful and we felt confident after talking to her that we would enjoy our stay in the country. Jenny hooked us up with a guy who had a van and would drive us to Cotacachi. We hired him for the day for $120 and he gave us a guided tour of Quito. We saw the cathedral, the main square, and the statue of the Virgin Mary on the top of the hill. I got some shots of the entire city. Then he took us to the "middle of the world" where the latitude is 00.00.00. There were so many amazing demonstrations of the coriolis effect. Will post photos sometime in the future. I have found that I can easily write notes on my iPad. My problem is that I don't have time! Tomorrow, a report about Cotacachi.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Ecuador is beautiful!

Sunday morning we heard the alarm on my phone jangle at 4:45 am. We hurried to get dressed, gather our luggage and grab a cup of coffee. Mike quickly spread cream cheese on two bagels for me and we threw the other snacks into a plastic bag, tossed it in my carry-on and hopped in the car for the 30 minute ride to the airport. The countdown was over; we were on our way to Sud America! The first leg was routine. Just Phoenix to Houston. Once we landed in Houston, we had a few hours to kill, so we had lunch at Ruby's Diner where Ron was able to get a real chocolate malt! I had some delicious fried zucchini which probably wiped out all my work on the treadmill for the past month. The next leg was Houston to Panama City, Panama. You think the airports in the U.S. are inefficient, wait til you see Panama City. We waited for about 20 minutes for a gate to open up so the plane could park. Then it took another 20 minutes before anyone could get off the plane - never found out why. Fortiunately, the gate for our Copa Airlines flight to Quito was not too far away. Ron bought some scotch at the duty free shop so that he would have some on the final leg of the flight. We were tired by this time, but the flight to Quito was only two hours and by the time they served our sandwich and drinks, it was almost time to land. Ron complained from the time the wheels touched down til we arrived at our hotel, so I won't go into how long it took us to get through immigration, get our luggage, get through customs, etc. But finally, there was Bill's face and arms waving at us. Whew! He had already arranged for taxis to take us to Casa Arbolitta where we would spend the night. Details of our stay at Jenny's place and our first day of our trip coming tomorrow. Had two glasses of wine at dinner and ready to fall asleep.