Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ecuador-Thursday, December 29th: Baños-Guamote-Guaranda

We enjoyed our last morning at the beautiful cliff house in baños. 
The girls enjoyed hanging out in the hammocks to work on journals and seminary together.
We again purchased fresh bread from the baker that drives through town for breakfast. It is such a yummy treat, everyone especially enjoyed the nutella that Mom purchased to put on the rolls.
Preston helped mom make scrambled eggs to go with the fresh rolls.
We made a couple stops in town before heading out. Going to get smashed pennies (Nickles actually at this one) at the hot springs and see the waterfall that comes into town. 
We found a chocolate empanadas stand also to try. It had been on our list but we hadn't gotten them yet and we're glad we did. So yummy.
A lot it the day was spent driving. It was about 2 ½ hours to get to Guamote. There were some amazing views of the volcano and farming lands along the way. 
And we saw a lot of people hauling their goods on their backs.
Some on their way to or from the markets.
The locals would pile up in trucks or big buses to come from towns near and far.
Guamote has an open air indigenous market on Thursdays.  I wanted to experience the cultural aspect of seeing a traditional market and this was indeed that. 
There were pigs and sheep every where and piles of produce, chicken, fish, bread…everything being sold. It was not a touristy place, so we stuck out being the only white people walking around. 
We tried to be respectful, or at least sneaky about getting pictures of things and places there. 
They were staring at us as much as we were at them though. The kids didn't seem to care about it as much as the adults did, but I loved it and enjoyed walking around.
So much to see
as we wandered around I was surprised every time to turn a corn and see more tents set up.  It was huge.
And the people are beautiful
each tribe has a different hat style and clothing
From there we drove about 2 more hours to Guaranda. It was another pretty drive up (14,500 feet was our highest point) next to Chimborazo. 
We loved seeing all the vicuña on the side of the road. Kids did well with the drives. They love the connect game that grandma taught them and tinkered with backpack toys or slept.
Once we got to our hotel the boys had some energy to burn. There was a small playground on the property that I took them to before dinner. Dinner was good, but there were t.v.s playing kid's movies and the kids were glued with tired glazed over eyes. Everything came with potatoes, rice and salad. So all the adult were full after their own meals.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ecuador-Wednesday, December 28th:Baños

It was a slower morning.  We were up early, but spent time writing in journals and playing around the house until close to 10.  The view from the house (and the house itself) was incredible. We got bread from the baker that drives through town to deliver.  That was fun.  He honks his horn as he approaches and if you want bread you can go to the road to get it from his car.
It was raining, so we decided to start with Pailon del Diablo where we'd get wet anyway.  
The waterfall was impressive.
Our family climbed in the tunnels to get behind the falls. 
We all got completely soaked.  But it was very cool to see.
After hiking back we went to the La Casa del Abol for the "swing to the end of the world" experience.
James especially loved having a swing with enough leg room for him to go.  He felt like a kid again.

Preston was mad about the short uphill walk to get there, but when he saw the zip line he got a huge grin on his face.
Ethan loved the balance beams.  He didn't feel a need to hold the rope and I kept imagining him falling in the muddy water, but each time he made it without a fall.
Everyone loved spending time there.
It had cleared up,  and we had mostly dried out, so we decided to try out the zoo.  

The zoo wasn't too impressive, but the views were incredible.
We had a good time seeing the animals, and especially enjoyed the english translations on the sign.  They weren't done well and were very funny.
Dinner was at a French restaurant called Marianes.  The kids were shocked when Katie told them that the locals actually enjoy eating the heads of the fish.

We stopped on the way home for groceries and James and Brielle picked up sugar cane taffy (melcocha) for us all to try.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ecuador-Tuesday, December 27th:Mishualli

We started the morning with breakfast provided at the hostal: Scrambled eggs, mixed fruit with yogurt, rolls, papaya juice and hot chocolate.  After breakfast we met up with a guide to take us on a jungle tour.
We took a boat up the Napo river and stopped at a chocolate making Kichwa home. We saw the cacao trees blossoming. We got to taste the jelly substance that surrounds the pod…it is very sweet. There were beans already dried and roasted for us to shell and grate. They then made some fondue type chocolate that they put on roasted bananas and toasted bread for us to try along with some of their tea leaf drink. Apparently we were so busy eating we didn't get many pictures of the chocolate making and eating, but it was very cool.
We got to dress up in some of their hand-made clothing
And learned how to weave our own headbands.  The plant used is the same used in the above picture for the skirt that Preston is wearing.
We also got to see coffee plants and beans and taste them in their flower pod. They were also surprisingly sweet and not at all coffee tasting.
From there we continued up river to a pottery making demonstration. 
She showed how they make the pottery and also how they use natural minerals for painting, banana leaves for sanding, hair for the paint brush, and tree resin for the gloss. It was fascinating. 
We also got to try eating chontacurro there (beetle larva). They roasted them over the fire for us. They were about what I expected them to be. They salted them so it was a salty chewy crunch. 
Weird, but all part of the experience.
Our group with our guides and tour canoes.  We had an Ecuadorian guide and also a English translator (from Germany) for our family. 
After our jungle tour we went over to the Latas waterfall. It had rained a lot in the morning, so the hiking was wet, slippery and very muddy. Preston made it walking both there and back with a few meltdowns. He did okay as long as I kept telling stories. He and Ethan loved playing in the waterfall. Brielle got a bit wet, but mostly enjoyed it from a safe distance and not right under. 
We loved these mushrooms growing along the path.
On the way back we did the 'tobagan' natural water slide. Ethan and Preston loved it and went over and over again. 

Preston slid down the rock slide so many times he wore holes right through his pants and underwear.
Once we got to the bottom Ethan played with rope swing into the water.  We changed clothes since we were a muddy mess and then continued our journey driving on to Banos that night which was about 2 1/2 hours away.  
The first 2 hours of the drive were great playing guessing games and enjoying the ride. But the last half hour was rough. Preston had fallen asleep, but woke up screaming. Trying to turn around to help him was making me car sick. James had a headache. We were trying to figure out maps and directions to get to the house…it was a perfect meltdown. Preston did better with me telling him stories again. Dad pulled off to look at the map and was able to find the house. And once we made it inside everyone was more than happy. 
After getting cleaned up a bit better, we went back to town for dinner. We chose an Argentinian restaurant. We were all hungry after a busy day and by this time it was about 9:30pm. The restaurant had a funny menu (such as stating that the dessert is so good that if you can't finish it the cook, who has a sweet tooth, will eat it for you) and decorations that kept us entertained.