Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the Road Again

We left Guayaquil in the morning. It was pouring rain so we both were hoping we were headed towards better weather. We met up with a tour agent at the airport and she helped with checking us in and getting our boarding passes. To our surprise we were booked into first class!! The biggest seats we've ever had.

The eight days went by fast. We had a great group of 16 people, including Brits, Americans, one German and one Canadian -me, a great guide and crew and great chef. The weather was mixed, with rain, overcast and sun. We appreciated the overcast days as the sun was very hot. On average it was 26C, rain or cloud. Thank goodness we had 80 factor waterproof sunscreen! We were fed three times a day, 3 course meals, and snacks in between. Way too much food but it was fabulous! The motorbike's suspension will have to put up with a few extra pounds!

We visited 5 different islands, did some hikes, dingy rides, shopping and lots of snorkelling. Swam with sea turtles, sea lions, penguins, sharks, rays and may different tropical fish. On land we saw so much wild life, and both of us have a greater appreciation for birds. We know so much now thanks to our twitchers! Lisa was sea sick one evening, could it of been the beer? Grif had no problem! Our days were on a tight schedule, daily activities started at 6 or 6:30 am and ended at 8 pm, but there was still time to relax in between activities. We got so close to the wildlife, absolutely amazing. We were both very sad to leave the Galapagos, it is such a magical and unique place. Lisa can't wait to go back again! We will miss our new friends and wish all of them safe travels.
Carpenter bee
Us with the giant tortoises

We got back to Guayaquil and sorted out laundry. The next morning it was raining, but we packed up and rode to Banos. Along the route to Riobamba we were stopped by a loud speaker... the police pulled us over! Once again, we denied knowing and did not speak any Spanish. They tried to tell us that our papers for the motorbike were invalid, but we pointed out to them the date of entry and valid for one month. Then they tried to tell us we were going to fast, and got the ticket book out. We kept asking them to speak English, but they couldn't. Eventually, they knew that they were getting nothing and left... "they had another call".

We reached an altitude of 3800 m through the pass to Banos. The route was rainy with muddy sections in the highway. Visibility at times was quite low due to the thick, low lying rain clouds. Banos is a lovely little town, with huge waterfalls and thermal pools. We went out for our favourite meal... you guessed it, pizza and beer! I found a lovely 'capucha' in one of the shops. This was our first day without taking any photos. Unfortunately, our point and shoot Pentax camera, which we would normally use in the rain, isn't working anymore...

The next morning, we decided to head to Quito. The clouds were not lifting, so we were unable to get a clear view of Tungurahua volcano. The Panamerican highway to Quito is nicknamed "Avenue of Volcanos". One well known volcano along the route is Cotopaxi. Unfortunately, there were rain clouds the whole way, and an absolute down pour when we reached Quito. It was around 16C; Lisa had her heated jacket on the past two days.

We booked into Hotel Real Audencia, spending more than we normally would, but we have underground parking and we were soaking wet! We were very happy to get out of the rain. The rain stopped by the time we headed out for dinner; we decided to eat cheap and picked up some "pan au chocolate" for snacks the next day.

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