This is straight up just a way to record some of what we are seeing and doing day to day. Certainly no brilliant bits of writing in here whatsoever. There is so much to see it is simply overwhelming, and I feel my days blurring together. Blogging is my attempt to help me remember!
Brian and I declined to join the group for dinner on Friday night in favour of catching up on some of the sleep we lost in travel. I think we went to bed at 8:45 PM, old farts that we are, and awoke at 7:45 Saturday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Our bed in the conquistador's mansion was a pleasant surprise- firm, clean, and with a nice layer of warm woollen blankets.
Seeing our hotel in the morning light inspired me to take some photographs- what a remarkable place to rest our heads at night!
There was more to the hotel than we'd had the time to examine the day before, so bathed in themorning light, we did a little exploration.
Up the tile stairs.
through a tiled hallway,
past the first balcony, and continuing our climb to the very top of the hotel.
The view was spectacular.
Endless roof lines (how on earth did they construct this?!)
Little balcony ares that must be part of people's apartments, all strung up with clotheslines.
The roofs are constructed out of terra cotta, often growing moss and stained with the heavy humidity.
Then, back down the series of stairways and back into the busy streets for another walkabout.
Every millimetre or two, there was something to study, wonder about, stare at, and try to photograph without looking like an idiotic noob tourist, which I totally know we looked like in any case.
Around here, there are jobs for all sorts of things. These people are selling toilet paper outside a toilet along the sidewalk. Ten cents or more will buy you a piece of toilet paper and allow you entrance.
The streets were filling up with women who were coming into town to sell their wares. These women are loaded down with stacks of fleece fabric- terrible quality stuff, unfortunately. Nothing at all I'd buy even at home, never mind in this other worldly place.
Some streets here are largely pedestrian, and everyone seems to live outdoors here.
Shoe shining is popular. Numerous sidewalk businesses like this were scattered all along our walks.
One of my highlights was capturing these two with my camera. A boy, impeccably dressed in school uniform, is reading aloud out of a newspaper to a blind mind, who is chuckling with pleasure. Young people appear to treat older people with care and respect here
People carry all manner of weird, chintzy, imported plastico stuff on the backs with the intent of making a sale. I find myself wishing they were carrying locally handcrafted items, or something that came down off the mountains. Its a little like being in a mobile Dollarama, but one in which you really don't know what the price of anything is, and you're afraid to ask.
Everyone is hustling for a few dollars, it's a little troublesome to wonder what their quality of life might be.
At 11:00 AM on Friday morning, we all boarded a bus for a trip to our next destination: Banos, which is Spanish for "bath". This is a town near a volcano, known for its mineral springs, rappelling, ziplines, etc.
The bus ride itself is worthy of its own blog post, which I may accomplish. Unfortunately, I'm having trouble synching my photos from iphone to ipad, so there are 500+ photos on my phone that I'm trying to figure out how to move over here and record.
The bus itself was gorgeous- super comfortable seats, lovely and clean, with our "walking encyclopedia" tour guide Milton sitting in the front telling us endless facts over the microphone. He knows heaps of stuff and speaks English very well, except that of course, his Ecuadorian accent is quite strong. The Virgin Mary is the "BeerHen Maria". There was talk of "horse feet" and "cow feet". I didn't figure out until the end of the trip that feet = feed. Darn.
The bus made several stops along the way to Banos. My favourite stop was at a roadside eatery where the locals cooked and ate.
It was no posh establishment, yet incredibly rich.
Cow stomach. Yum.
Behind us were a live pig and sheep, just hanging around and waiting for their time underneath the bloody axe. There was also a crumpled up partial cow carcass. Really made me crave a rare steak *not*.
My joy was found in the details. Dishes that I would have been drawn to in a thrift shop anywhere.
A boy, standing in a sink, eating a bowl of soup.
I couldn't quite get enough of him, and he didn't appear to mind.
These little round things which are made of cornmeal, onions, and fresh cheese, fried in oil. I'd like to pull up a chair and live there for a year, they are so yummy.
Brian bought a little plastic baggie of these fava beans and baby potatoes, which we chowed down on the continuing bus ride. They tasted like spring, and earth.
I declined the barbeque.
And badly wanted to photograph every human in sight. They don't care for having their pictures taken!
The children were more easily persuaded. So many beautiful children, I wished I could ask them questions. Eventually I would learn the word "linda", which means "pretty", so I could at least tell them how I saw them.
We continued on our winding, scenic bus ride. Apparently it was a long drive, but I honestly didn't notice, what this world right outside my window.
We stopped at a legit restaurant for lunch and met a couple from Edmonton who are on a several year long bicycle trip all across South America.
Super friendly, sweet, and interesting, they joined us for lunch.
The bus made a few stops so the photography students could disembark and take some photos.
After all, it's not often you're on a bus driving towards an active volcano.
As is my forte, I got more caught up in the details. The houses built nearly on the highway.
A pumpkin patch flanking the highway.
Apparently it took us six hours to get to our next destination, but Dorothy, we sure weren't driving through Giroux in winter.
When we did arrive in Banos, what an amazing "hotel" we were about to enjoy!
(I'd like to try and show you, but no more photos are loading for now)
Try to imagine a series of villas with terra cotta roofs that grow moss and various vegetation. Try to imagine this nestled in a huge valley, with gigantic green slopes rising up directly behind where we sleep at night. Imagine a deep, damp, earthy smell, beautiful flowers, a random dog, a mossy rock pathway.
And good luck with that. I'm smack dab in the very Center of the reality of it, and I'm finding it all a little hard to absorb.
So much. So, so very much incredible beauty.