We made it, after leaving our hostel in Salvador at 1pm and arriving in Quito at 2pm the following day after 4 flights. Yes 25hrs in transit and we felt knacked. This journey involved flying from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro, flying from Rio to Buenos Aires and landing there at 1am. Our next flight was supposed to leave at 6am for Guayaquil and then onto Quito. This was not our fault. We booked through Webjet who foiled our first itinerary and then failed a second time. They compensated us for the 3rd itinerary which was 25hours and cost about $AUD200 more than the original itinerary. This soon eventuated into our worst 25 hours in transit.
When landing at the Buenos Aires airport at 1am; Our first task was to track down some drinking water before finding a makeshift bed. We were really in for it. We exchanged some Brasilian Reals for some Argentinian Pesos. Pushed a coin into the first drink machine only to have the drink fall down and break the door rendering our drink safe from our consumption. After battling with the drink machine with the help of a security guard we moved on. Every other machine was broken that we could find. We found an information desk and told them the story. They gave us a token for another drink machine. Bronnie went off in pursuit of this machine as I watched our luggage. Soon after she had left looking confident she was already on her way back looking frustrated. My heart sank. "Aggggh the machine ate the token and didn't do anything" Said Bronnie. We went to the information desk and told our story. In the end we bought some water from a cafe after changing more money because of the extravagant prices they were charging. It was now close to 3am when we gave up looking for a comfy bed and settled for a metal bench seat with mettle arm wrests. Half sleeping on high alert isn't fun.
Our new Ecuadorian mother Marianna picked us up from the airport in Quito and drove us to our new home for the next month.
We had started a 2-week course of Espanol and were staying with Pepi and Marianna as our host family. These 2 weeks easily turned into a 3 week course. The deal was that by living with Pepi and Marianna that we could soak ourselves in Espanol. We were fed 3 meals a day, our room cleaned daily and our washing washed occasionally. Bronnie and I were most pleased to not have to think about a thing except what we had learnt that day.
The first weekend we were in Quito; On the Saturday Pepi and Marianna took us to Old Town to show us some sights, which ivolved any old buildings and old churches. On the Sunday we travelled to the middle of the world and to the Pululahua Crater.
After a week of learning Espanol, we were looking forward to the weekend. We used this weekend to travel to Baños. A place to see beautiful scenery, relax in hot pools that looked very similar to sewerage treatment ponds. and see water falls. We fear after seeing Foz Do Iguacu that any water falls from then on will be pitiful. Nonetheless there are plenty of activities to do and an active volcano near by.
Each day after school we would discover new parts of this beautiful city and explore for more.
The weekend before our last week of Espanol we travelled up the Teleférico, from the top we then trekked up Rucu Pichincha. We were forced to turn around close to the summit because of rain and vision. Because of the altitude, it took us 3hours to where we were and it took us 1hour to return. It is a funny feeling to be struggling to breath and move, and then be able to run.
The same weekend as the Teleférico we ventured to Selva Alegre on 'The Bus of Death.' Dubbed this because we nearly flew through the front window if it wasn't for the seat beside the drive stopping us. On our return from Selva Alegre we joked about catching the same bus only for it to be the same bus with plenty more excitement for the trip home. Our main objective for visiting the town Selva Alegre is so we could quench our lust to try cuy. Cuy being guinea pig. We hopped of the bus in this town when we saw the street lined with cuy barbeques, which are little guinea pigs on wooden stakes for barbequing. Quite a rich taste and a site to be seen. The hardest part of eating cuy was trying to find the meat with your teeth and hands through all the tiny bones.
When we first sat down to eat cuy; Bronnie looked at me and said, "Ollie can you please turn the head of your cuy away. I can't bear to eat mine with yours staring up at me." I turned to Bronnie and said, "Why? Your the one chewing on the head back of the head." Bronnie then turned to me, laughed and said "Sure I am." This is when Bronnie placed her cuy down on her plate upside down and could make out the little jaw line and tiny teeth she had been precariously close to chewing on. The neck muscle is about the biggest muscle in a cuy to eat.
Before embarking on our journey to the Amazon Jungle, we ventured to Cotopaxi, which is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. Walked to the glacier at 5000m thanking that we couldn't go any further. On the way down we road some bikes cross counrtry which was easy going.
Our next adventure took us into the Cuyabeno Nature Reserve, which is part of the huge Amazon basin. After doing a bit of research in Quito we found a great 4 day tour with Guacamayo Ecolodge. We venture 10hrs from Quito to a small and ugly looking town, jumped in a mini van and drove 2hrs even further into the sticks before jumping into a small motorised boat that would take us another 2hrs deeper into the jungle. As much as we hate any sought of tour and would rather go at it our selves. This is a must to have a tour in the Amazon here. It is our favourite tour to date. We were lucky enough to have the owner of the lodge to be our guide, whom we dubbed "Rambo" or "The Ecuadorian Rambo."
We saw many animals, insects and birds. Thankfully I didn't experience anything swimming up my penis and lodging itself there. We went on many jungle walks during light hours and at night. Swam in the river not far from where we had been pirahna fishing and cayman spotting. This was a surreal feeling being apart of this grand eco system. On our 4th and last day here, we decided that it was too good to leave and that we would kick on for another day to enjoy paddling around the river system in a canoe. This is when we became closer to some friends we met on this trip called Hanne & Jelle a brilliant couple from Belgium.
There were many stories of big spiders and we mean Big spiders being found in the guest's rooms. Surrounded just on dark with a lot and we mean a lot of angry sounding wild pigs chomping their teeth. Rambo being a gardener and using a piranha as secateurs. The stories are endless and the feelings for all of them are warm.
We spent another 3 nights in Quito with our lovely host parents Pepi and Marianna before embarking on our mission for surf. First stop on the coast Atacames.