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Cam & Suz’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 24 Apr 2005

Location: Riobamba, Ecuador

MapWe dragged ourselves away from the vibrant city of Bogota (first place so far that we´ve felt that we could stay for a good length of time) and headed for Zona Cafetera (coffee region). We decided to explore this spectacular area on horses which would have been lovely had Cam not been given a crazy 2 year old that bolted at every chance. After running into a barbed wire fence, slipping over (and onto Cam), and straight through a tree leaving Cam with branches stuck up his nose, we (in particular Cam) returned pretty sore. Meanwhile Sue had trouble getting her 12 year old to move any quicker than a fast walk!!
After a couple of days R&R in the country we headed for the salsa capital, Cali (also arguably the most beautiful women in Colombia). We tried to keep up with the couples on the dance floor but after several attempts we gave up and watched from the sidelines.
So many of the cities we´ve been to have a very beautiful colonial centre with so much character. Popoyan was no exception, our last stop before heading through to Ecuador. We both had a sense of sadness to be leaving this special country. One we would highly recommend.
We thought an early start (4:30am) would get us to Quito (Ecuador) just in time for dinner. A slight hiccup.... Cam had left his passport in the hotel which we remembered about 40 minutes into the journey. A good argument with the dodgy busdriver who would not give us our money back and then Sue´s attempt at pleading with the bus company to let us on the next bus with a ripped ticket and we were finally on our way again by about 9:30am. So.... we arrived in Quito at about midnight. We´d been warned not to walk anywhere in Quito after dark and so we were forced to get a taxi for the 200m to the hotel. We could have caught a bus back to the Colombian border for the same amount of money!!
We headed north for the famous indigenous Otavalo markets, the most important in South America. We got a little carried away there and now our packs are bursting at the seams.... (Karen we hope you have a big bag!!)
Back to Quito to meet up with Wilf. After a good feed and a few cervesas, we were excorted by a local to a nightclub. Being the only foreigners and friends of ´the man of the club´we danced the night away with many eyes watching.
A few hours sleep and we were off to see the equator. In true South American style they have a fake line which you pay to get into and also then pay to go to the real equator. An interesting fact.... you are up to 4kgs lighter on the equator.
We stocked up and went for a hike up to a refuge on volcan Cotapaxi at 4800m. A stunning cone shaped volcano made for a beautiful setting in which to aclimatize for some upcoming hikes.
Leaving Quito for the last time was an interesting experience. The city rim was completely blocked off by demonstrators. Tires burning, trucks blocking roads and the city was declared a state of emergency. It was quite scarey but also exciting. Later that day the President resigned. Our bus driver finally managed to find a sneaky escape and we travelled to a very scenic town Quilotoa. This tiny village is set on the side of a magnificent crater lake in the Andean highlands. A very tranquil place. It was lovely to spend the afternoon in front of a fire in the home of a local indigenous family while the rain pelted down outside. Another stunning busride brought us to Banos where life is all about the outdoors. We promptly hired a couple of mountain bikes and rode 60km to Puyo. It was a great feeling to be back on the bikes!
We are now in Riobamba, over which Ecuador´s highest volcano - Chimborazo @ 6310m - looms.........