Nine months with Jet Set Zero already. It’s been a wonderful experience in countries I had never been to, with people I had never met before. A truly rewarding experience. I have proven to myself I can do it, so it’s time for me to hit the road on my own. I’ll be in South America a few more months, heading south.
We have seen lakes, mountains, volcanoes, the ocean, blue-footed boobbies, whales, pelicans, cuy, churches, villages and bigger towns, but there is one things we haven’t seen. Pre-Columbian ruins.
Jenna and I decided to visit El Machu Picchu of Ecuador: the ruins of Ingapirca. The site is probably not as impressive as actual Machu Picchu (in Peru) but it is much less crowded, and our guide’s explanations made the visit worthwhile.
I hadn’t planned to visit Guayaquil. From the little I knew, it was too big, too urban of a city with too many skyscrapers and a high crime rate. Until some friends told me that in late medieval times, there used to be a lot of piracy activity. That was enough to change my mind.
You see, I am from the coast. Just like Guayaquil on the Guayas river, my hometown is located in the Loire river estuary. Just like Guyaquil’s Malecón, my hometown recently built a waterfront with fancy cafés and places to hang out. It’s called Le Hangar à Bananes (The Banana Warehouse) and has become a popular place to go out.
Unlike Guayaquil however, Nantes doesn’t have a lighthouse nor did we have pirates, although we were involved in transatlantic slave trade…
We all wanted to go to the Galapagos but the $1,000 weekly trip was definitely out of our budget. Instead, we went to La Isla de la Plata, a small island off Puerto Lopez and home to a few Galapagos bird species.
On our way to the island, we saw a few humpback whales who had come all the way from Antarctica to mate in Ecuadorian waters all summer long. At some point, three whales were swimming side by side. It was magical.
We hiked a few hours on La Isla de la Plata to watch blue-footed boobies, red-chested fregatas and piqueros enmascarados. I was really hoping to see an albatros, but those are shy birds and we didn’t see any, nor did we see sea lions and hammerhead sharks. It was a beautiful hike amid a landscape that reminded me of lot of the coastline of Quiberon, Brittany.
4,100 meters high. The view of Quito is amazing. You’d better go in the morning because around 1PM, the clouds inevitably come wrapping the mountain and you can hardly see fifty meters away.
There are a few recycling bins. How come they recycle here whereas they didn’t in our apartment building?
Down a path there is a tiny church called Capilla del Centenario. I was trying to have a glimpse at the chancel through the door window when the women next to me said: “Wouldn’t it be nice to get married here?”
Yes, it would. It is so quiet, the air is so fresh, you are so far away from everything else that you really feel on top of the world. Just as you should feel on your wedding day.
In every town or village I have been to, there is at least one church. With 95% of the population being Catholic, the churches of Ecuador are filled every Sunday morning, and people go praying or confessing at almost any time, any day of the week.
Ibarra is no exception. Even more so since the small town is a diocese, which means Ibarra is a permanent residence to a Catholic bishop.
1. Jenna hated Quito until two months ago when, to everyone’s surprise, she declared she was in love with the city and didn’t want to leave. Loving a foreign city doesn’t always come easy but persistence goes a long way. Our hats off to you, Jenna!
2. She excels at being a waitress. She loves the job and is great at befriending guests. There’s no doubt she will be missed at Uncle Ho’s.
3. Jenna bought a can of pepper spray and a whistle within a month after landing in Quito. Fortunately, she hasn’t felt the urge nor the need to use them.
4. An aspiring pastry chef, a funny joke teller, a light-on-her-feet dancer and a silent sleeper, Jenna is the perfect traveling companion.
5. Since we set foot upon Ecuadorian soil, she has been obsessed with Ayahuasca. What is it? Some say it is a sacred beverage usually prepared by and for shamans seeking guidance or wanting to foresee the future. Others say it’s a drug which, despite all the vomiting, gives you the best high. Jenna did A LOT of research on the subject and hopes to set upon an Ayahuasca spiritual journey.
6. Jenna is “looking for the truth.” May Ayahuasca help her fulfill this quest.
7. Another of Jenna’s obsessions since we arrived in Ecuador is Twilight/New Moon/Eclipse. It’s been a big joke all season long and, at some point, we have all joined her to watch RPATZ fighting the werewolves. Unforgettable, especially when Ryan fastfowarded the movie- dubbed in Spanish- to “get to the good parts.” Team Edward or Team Jacob? It’s a hard call…
Quito, Guayaquil… Ecuador is teeming with beetles. Behind the wheel of those multicolored little bugs are both men and women, the elderly and the youth, the trendy and the old-fashioned. Here, the Beetle is a truly intergenerational little car!
Near el Pululahua volcano is a museum dedicated to the sun and indigenous arts. We weren’t too sure whether we should do that one for, as soon we entered the courtyard, a loud Inca style music inevitably started to play. “It smells like a tourist trap,” Freddie said.
But I was curious to see what was inside this intriguing temple, so we went in. There were Pre-Columbian masks and jars, beautiful paintings by indigenous painter Cristobal Ortega and statues adorning the courtyard where solstice and equinox celebrations take place every year.