Ecuador

Vilcabamba | Last Leg of the Journey | August 16, 2004
We arrived to Ecuador this morning and to the town of Vilcabamba. Supposedly many people live here to well over 100 so we are going to scope out the city to find the reason and/or the fountain of eternal youth. We have been quite successful in trying all the typical local dishes in each country. How delighted we were to read that the Ecuadorian food of choice is bull penis. We are definitely going to have to look into this!-steve

Banos | Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble? | August 18, 2004
Ecuador is amazing – yesterday we were playing disc on the beach in the scorching sun and today we are hiking mountains in the cold wind. Yesterday we were in the “banana capital” and we definitely agree with the locals that the name does justice to Machala. I have never seen so many banana trees in my life. The nearby beaches had the samba music pumping and were all around great. But we are running out of time so we headed north to Banos.Here in Banos, the first thing that sparked our attention was the active volcano next door that is continually spewing ash and (sometimes) lava. We definitely had to set out and climb it. They advise not to go past the refuge which takes 6 hours to get to. We are in pretty good shape and hiked up to it in 3 hours. Unfortunately by that time the wind was so strong and it was so cold that we decided to turn back. What we really wanted to feel were the apparent tremors that exist when that far up the volcano. I am pretty sure I heard them but it could have been the wind. It was pretty cloudy out so it wasn’t apparent that we were climbing anything other than a mountain. I think the best part was finding this gutted cow carcas. It was basically just skin and a head. After the initial shock of finding such a thing laying on the path, we spent about half an hour poking and proding (to expand our biological knowledge of course).

Tommorow we are signed up for some river rafting (class 3 & 4). As long as we don’t suffer the same fate as Christie and Amie, we should be fine. However, we are hoping to get hurt enough to make a good story of it. Ryan says he wants to wet himself with fear. I want to be there to see it all!

-steve

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Miltud Del Mundo | Centre of the Earth | August 21, 2004
Our rafting experience a few days ago was excellent. We were feeling really wild and were cheering for big waves and currents. There was this Scotish girl with us and I think she was more scared of us then of the rafting. She said we were completely bonkers (the accent made it even funnier). Every time we would go over some major rapids we would be hoping the boat would tip or we would try to nudge Kevin out of the boat. We ended up in the water a couple times but unfortunately the raft never completely tipped. I am definitely hooked on white water rafting and if I ever come across a cheap ride I am definitely going to take it. I think we all agree that we won’t go again unless it is class 4 or 5 rapids though (level 1 is a swiming pool and level 6 is a waterfall by the way).

After visiting the capital of Quito, we decided to visit the equator. There is a huge monument, a huge line drawn, and a whole lot of unnecessary touristy stuff. The first thing that I did was GPS the line. Finding the coordinates were quite wrong, we ventured to find the real equator outside the commercial “equator” complex. We found the real line and it happened to go through some guy’s property so he set up a little park to show that his property was on the equator and not the official monument. He proved it with GPS, the water test (flows clockwise on one side, counter clockwise on the other), and balancing an egg on a nail. After this we were convinced that we had made it to the real equator. Supposedly 200 years ago the commercial complex was designed around a line measured with primitive devices. Kevin got a sweet equator line cheek bisection picture (may have to think through that one for a sec).

We made it to Quito a bit ahead of schedule and although wanting to see more of Ecuador, we thought we better make a quick Colombia trip. Many people talk of the dangers but most say that if you are careful it should be ok. Many travellers are still going to Colombia. Anyway, here we are! On this side of the border, everything looks pretty good so far!

-steve

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Quito | Last Update! | August 25, 2004
We are back in Ecuador and feeling pretty adventured out. We are lazing around at our friend Paul’s house just north of Quito. He helps out at a mountaineering, adventure, hiking sort of camp ministry (El Refugio) here in Cala Cali. Right now there is kind of a hangout house because a bunch of people just showed up at the same time. There is a group from California building a house and a bunch of other Americans chilling out and visiting. We did a little hiking but we have spent a lot more time making pasta and fruit shakes. It is hard to keep Kevin and Ryan off the guitars too. I think we are going to park it here for a couple days until our flight.

I will finish off our Colombia story. We couldn’t wait to get out of Colombia. I think we went to a bad city at a bad time and met bad people. Everyone hassled us. The men either tried to sell us drugs or told us we were going to get hurt for being there. The women whistled or gave us looks like we were idiots for being in the country. It is really too bad because Colombia is one of the most beautiful countries in South America. The time is just not right for visiting I guess.

That’s it. Time to come home. I think we are ready for a rest but of course we are all thinking up new future adventures.

-steve

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