Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ecuador - Otavalo and Quito October 12 to 18

After leaving Colombia (sob!) I entered Ecuador. At the border I met a couple of German guys on BMWs, and thought I might have some company for a little while. But alas, they got all pissed off when I told them that they didn´t need carnets (a kind of import tax guarantee) to enter Ecuador. They informed me that they had paid 10,000 euros for the carnets and they were going to damn well use them! Since they aren´t required, I just filled out my paperwork. They left in the meantime. Oh well, everyone is not to be traveled with!

The Edward Scissorhand Memorial Cemetary - I made a quick stop at the cemetery in Tulcan near the border. Why, you might ask (since I don´t know any of the residents)? Turns out some of the gardners there thought they were Edward Scissorhand, and did a real job creating tree sculptures. Quite impressive.

I then went to Otavalo. Karen and I had been here 10 years ago for the Saturday market, but I was not there for the weekend this time. I stayed three days just catching up on getting things done (that´s a traveling term for buying a phone card, doing laundry, and the like. Otavalo is at about 8500 feet above sea level, so you have to get used to doing things with a bit less O2.
The most noticeable thing about Otavalo is the indigenous population. The people here aren´t in native dress for anyone... that´s just the way they are. Made for an enjoyable stop.

On October 15, at 12:27 pm, I officially crossed into the southern hemisphere. I missed getting the perfect photo on my GPS by a few feet due to traffic.

Quito was another fun stop. The hostal I stayed in (the Crossroads) made me feel like the Old Man From the Mountain. Everyone there seemed to be about 12... like most of the hostals. But a very friendly group who liked to go out and have a good time. Fortunately some of them were willing to drag me along. I also took some Salsa dance lessons, but then the ¨senior moments¨ kicked in and I´ve forgotten absolutely everything. But it was fun at the time!

A friend of a friend that we had met in Panama (thanks for the introduction, Zack, and for the invitation Mark) had also organized a ¨watch the debate¨night in an Irish Pub in Quito, so I didn´t feel totally out of the American political scene. A heavily Democratic crowd (YES!)

Also got in a little sightseeing. Churches and such, but also an interesting tour of the presidential palace. I was in a group with a bunch of Cubans from New York, so I felt kind of at home (don´t even try to figure that one out). The palace guards dressed kind of like the White House guards in the Nixon days (and for which he took an endless amount of ribbing). These are a bit more authentic.

More soon.

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