A Travellerspoint blog

Day 16: Tuesday 21st July - Cuenca

Walk around old town, markets and Panama Hat Factory

sunny 20 °C

We only had one day in Cuenca and wasn't very much to do activity wise, so Harrold took us on a city tour. There are a few inca ruins around the town, so we stopped by the while he explained all the buildings different purposes were. Then we went a museum of cultural history. The museum included how ancient civilization's dressed, ate, socialised, listened to music, their festivities, rituals, languages etc. Then we walked around the old town (lots of photos taken here) so many gorgeous brick buildings with delicate balcony designs. Also saw a few cool street arts on the walls we were passing. Getting hungry it was time for lunch. Harrold took us to a local food market. Its was massive 2 stories high. The first floor was all fresh produce, fruit and veges. There also a line of rice, cheeses and pastas. Upstairs was Meat produce on one half, with apparently women hacking at animals heads with an axe. (I didn't go down that end). The other was the food and drinks. One entire section had whole pigs on every counter. Callum got some pork and salad for lunch, I decided I wasn't hungry anymore and got a smoothie instead, even almost ordered the whole thing in perfect spanish.
Harold then took to the famous Panama Hat factory. So many hats!! Callum stayed and did the tour, I went with Steph/Princess (brit girl) to the local markets to find a new hoodie, as she left her favourite one in the Galapagos Islands.
Side Note: Princess got her nickname, as she can not eat any dairy, gluten or nuts, she'd really like to be vegetarian, however then she would have nothing to eat. It's also because she is a like a delicate flower, she gets very motion sick so has to sit at the front of the bus or by a window. Her window was very small one busride, she was like 'don't know if this window quite meets my princess standards' ;-P. She is also a lot like me except a little worse (maybe like me without Callum). She loses everything. As the saying goes 'oh princess!'.
After Callum had finished at the Panama Hat factory him and Clare (Little Britain, little 5 foot brit girl from Bath, England) came and meet us at the markets. We brought another keyring to add Ecuador to our collection.
After the markets we head back to the hotel, via the supermarket for some lunch for me and snacks for the bus ride tomorrow. When we got the hotel I lay down for a while, as I was feeling a bit sun struck. Jack decided it wasn't time for sleeping and that we were going to be sociable and play cards outside in the sun. He'd been in bed all morning as he had food poisoning or something. After cards I did a bit of blogging and uploaded more photos on facebook, very slow however internet was very rubbish. At 7pm we had a group meeting about the coming days then everyone went out for a group to nice restaurant. I stayed at home and went straight to bed as I felt pretty sun stroked, light headed, dehydrated and very pale. Worked out quite well as only had about $10 US left and our next stop was Peru so didnt want to get anymore out. Callum had a nice spicy chicken breast for dinner, then they came back and played cards and had a few drinks till about 11pm. I decided to get up and have a shower and pack as our departure time was 8am in the morning.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Day 15: Monday 20th July - Baños to Cuenca

Loooooooong bus ride

sunny 21 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

So up and packed ourselves up again ready for our 9am bus to Cuenca. This one was 9 hours in a private bus with 1 stop for lunch along the way. So we got ready had a big breakfast before our long bus ride. I did a wee bit of blogging and some sleeping on the ride. Half way through the drive we stopped off for lunch at a South American style Chinese place. We paid about $3.50 for a massive plate of food that ended feeding me for two meals.
We arrived into Cuenca quite late, around dinner time. So we checked into our hotel then went to find some food.
Cuenca is quite a new city around an old centre which they have preserved. We went for a bit of a walk and found a huge shopping mall. We decided to all go to the food court, where I got some Burger King and Callum got quesadillas again. After dinner we went for a bit of a walk around the old city to look at the gorgeous old buildings. We walk home via the square which is set as an exercise area. There is a running track around the whole thing, a playground in the middle and a big empty space, which tonight was full with a group dancing. Kinda like a you'd see a zumba group in the gym, but this was outside and they were doing reggaeton, salsa, kizomba etc.
Everyone was pretty tired after the walk around the city, so we all went back to the hotel and straight to bed.

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Day 14: Sunday 19th July - Baños

Adventure Day

semi-overcast 20 °C

Izzy and I woke a little under the weather and rather tired after our night, so we went down to the restaurant and had a decent breakfast before our big day out.
We were getting picked up from the hotel at 8.30am for our first activity of the day, canyoning. Jack, Jo, Callum, Izzy and I stopped off at the adventure sports place to grab some wetsuits and shoes then jumped in the van to make our way out to our canyoning destination. Feeling not so great, it took Izzy and I a little while to walk up to the first waterfall. Also being quite afraid of heights neither of us were very keen on going down them either. The first 2 were ok, 8m and 12m high, the next to not so fun, 20m and 35m high. We decided to just take the plunge anyway (we're in Ecuador, why not). Then we finished our canyoning off with a natural slide into a deep hole of water.
Between the breakfast, the cold water, the hiking and the fear, the hangovers were well gone, and we got back before anyone even got out of bed.
We had 2.5 hours between activities, so Callum went and got some lunch, while I went with a friend to a massage and wax parlor (very relaxing). After lunch Callum went Zip Lining. This consisted of an 850m long zip line going 120km/h, followed by a rope bridge and then a 40m high rock climb, finishing off with a 350m zip line. All looked too scary for me, so I went paragliding! ;-P. It's ok though cause I had Izzy, my buddy when it comes to fear of heights. We jumped in the van and they took us 40 minutes out of Banos to the paragliding spot. We had to wait for an hour till the wind was not so strong, then we went 3 at a time. I was pretty nervous, but the pilots gave you no time to be afraid. You started running then you were in the air. I took a couple of cool photos and videos, then I sat back relaxed and enjoyed the view.
After we got back we showered, napped, and put away our nice clean folded washing, then got ready to go out for a group dinner. The place we had dinner was really nice and I wanted to stay Banos long and try everything on the menu. I had a really tasty veggie burrito and Callum had quesadillas.
After dinner I was so shattered that I just passed out. Callum went and played a few games of cards with the others before coming to bed.

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Day 13: Saturday 18th July - Homestay to Tena to Banos

Long bus ride to the cutest little adventure town on the planet

semi-overcast 20 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

Didn't do much today. Woke up had some cold showers before packing up all of our stuff and heading down to our final breakfast. Then said our goodbyes and thank you's and gave them our gifts we brought in the supermarket in Tena. Mainly rice, flour and other food etc. The feen and his family said there goodbyes and thank you's and then we got our 'taxis' - 4x4 utes, to Tena to catch our bus to Banos.
The trip was 5.5 hours on another public bus with some great scenery and many waterfalls. I bought some yummy soya chips off a guy that came on the bus for $1 US.
We made it to Banos around 5pm in time for a late lunch. We checked into our new hotel; very nice hotel, with massive rooms, hammocks, and laundry service!!!! After 4 days in the Amazon we had 12.5kgs of washing. So we gave our laundry to reception then went out to find some food cause we were starving!! We were going to go to a nice restaurant but decided we should try some street food, which was a great a idea!! Had the yummiest meal, salad, fresh avocados, fried mashed potatoes, chorizo sausages and a fried egg, paired with a strawberry and banana smoothie.
On the way home we stopped by the supermarket and got some snacks and drinks, and had pre drinks in Izzy and Tessa's room before heading to town. Had such a great night. The salsa bar we went to had some great music. Harrold organised some flaming shots for us. I even taught Callum a bit of salsa. I also had a bit of a dance with a salsa teacher that lived in Banos. Town closed at 2am so we all stumbled our way home to bed.

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Day 12: Friday 17th July - Amazon Homestay

sunny 25 °C
View South America Extravaganza on Maraka Saunders's travel map.

Woke up for another yummy breakfast then got ready for a cascade walk. After a can of mossie spray and sun block etc, we set off on our trek through the jungle. The scenery was beautiful (reminiscent of our backyard/river etc in Montgomery Road). We had to walk up hills (with and without rope assistance), through rivers, over branches sometimes having to climb up waterfalls. Swam in a pool at bottom of a waterfall to cool down from the walk. Got some really good photos here. Then had to walk back up a massive hill before heading back down to the home stay for lunch. After lunch we got a demonstration of a traditional Amazon wedding. Rob (Aussie) and Izzy(Austrian) did the honors. Was very interesting. After all the long morning I was nackered and had such saw knees, so it was time for a nap while Callum went for a walk to a lookout over the main river in the area and had natural clay face mask straight out of the stream bed. Apparently I was out for a fews hours. Callum came and tapped me on the shoulder to wake me, I almost had a heart attack as his face was covered in mud and looked a bit like a sea monster.
After a well earnt nap Rolando, (one of the feen's sons/aka monkey) taught us how to make Chocolate from scratch. He picked a fruit from the tree (looked kind of like a lemons) and ripped them open. Inside were lots cocoa beans covered in a white gooey layer. He passed it around took show us then grabbed a bowl of some he'd washed earlier. He heated up the hot coals/fire on the 'BBQ' and placed the cocoa beans in a pan over the heat. He roasted them until the skins become dark falling off, then took them off the heat. After the beans cooled down a little we helped him too rub all of the skins off by rolling them between our hands. They were then put in a grinder, which turned them into a powder. He then put the powder back on the heat and turned it into smooth rich chocolate. We sat down at the table and he brought over two big bowls of sliced banana and forks, and we had chocolate fondue and bananas for afternoon tea in the Amazon, YUM!!
After dinner we just did a repeat of the night before, got a delivery of dorritos, rum amd coke from Tena, then more chilling, drinks and cards. Had to get the three 5cm cockroaches out of our bed before going to sleep.

Posted by Maraka Saunders 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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