Posts Tagged ‘Andes’

Wild Women

I recently went to Banos for the 3rd time.  You may have already read about my first visit with the sister.

During my second visit, I went with my friends Gena and Steve, who were visiting from the U.S. and England, respectively.  We did this:

During my 3rd visit, Maggie and I had a girls’ get-away weekend which involved a lot of good food, even better conversation, wine, watching Bridesmaids, hiking to some waterfalls, hours of pampering spa treatments, and this:

Because a girls’ weekend isn’t really complete without wrapping a giant boa constrictor around your neck.


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Independence in Quito

Did I ever tell you how I spent my 4th of July in Quito?


Well here, let me show you…


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Guinea Pigging Out

One of the more exotic traditional dishes in the Andes is cuy, aka guinea pig.  They grill or roast the little critter and serve it whole.  Of course I had to try it.  It’s kind of fatty and tastes likes dark meat chicken.  Not bad.

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Sunday stroll

We hiked up there!

One of Quito’s many attractions is the Teleferiqo, a cable car system that carries visitors up a mountain to great views over the city.  My friend Cristina thought it would be fun to HIKE up the Teleferiqo hill rather than taking the lazy way up.

So on Easter Sunday we spent the morning walking from Quito (about 9,350 feet) up to the viewing platform (13,450 feet).  It took a few hours and was a great way to spend Easter.  We had beautiful weather and enjoyed spectacular views of the Andean valley all along the way.  Not exactly a Sunday stroll, but definitely awesome.

photo courtesy of Mr. Aaron Colon

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Laguna Quilotoa

Some of my Ecuadorian friends and I were tossing around ideas for how to spend our long Carnaval weekend.  When the idea of going to Quilotoa was mentioned, we all perked up.  I met Cristina through CouchSurfing, and her profile picture is at the amazingly scenic Quilotoa Lake.  Based on that photo alone I knew I was in.  Happily, we all were, so we took a little road trip through the Andes, heading south of Quito.

We stopped on the way to explore a canyon.

When we got to Quilotoa, we were all awe-struck by the lake in the center of the old volcanic crater.  Even the locals who live there seemed to enjoy the view.

We hiked down to the lake, passing locals, burros, sheep, and other tourists on the way.

Then we hiked the trail back up.  A 400 meter change in elevation (1300 feet) is nothing to laugh at – that was a steep hike.  But we made it back to the top just in time to catch the sunset.

The next morning was sunny, making the lake even more spectacular.  The sky was even clear enough to see some other volcanoes in the distance (The Illinizas).

The lake is emerald because of all the minerals in the water, but the colors seemed to change depending on the light.  Regardless of the time of day or type of weather though, Laguna Quilotoa did not disappoint.


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Come on ride that train

The Public Affairs Section at the Embassy (where I report to) arranged for me to visit 7 or 8 universities south of Quito this past week, ending in the small city of Riobamba.  One of the Ecuadorians who works at the Embassy also invited me to visit her family in Riobamba.  When the other PAS employees (both American and Ecuadorian) heard about this, they were jealous!  So the Riobamba portion of my work travel turned into a weekend retreat with the whole department.

My American and Ecuadorian bosses from the Embassy, and their families.

The highlight was riding El Nariz del Diablo (“The Devil’s Nose”), a train that zigzags down and back up a rock cliff in the Andes.  While it was originally part of a large railroad network covering much of Andean and coastal Ecuador, many of the railroad tracks have since deteriorated.  But this part of the line, which offers some gorgeous views of the mountains, is still popular with tourists (including Embassy employees and their relatives!).

See more pictures from my work/fun trip here.

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