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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Reluctant Ecuador Vacation

            On June 24, 2013 my wife, Betty, and I set off for a ten day vacation in Ecuador.   We arrived in Quito near midnight of the first day and spent two days in the capital city.   Joining us on the trip was one of our daughters and her husband. 

           We hired a cabdriver to take us around while in Quito.  This proved to be a good decision as Quito is a crazy place to navigate and the driver knew the good places to take us in the limited time we had.  The first day we paid $40 for about eight hours touring the city.  The second day we paid $90 for twelve hours and about 200 miles in the mountain regions.   What a bargain!   We also had him join us for our meals and paid his bill.  I think he appreciated that.  And we did give him well deserved tips each day.

           After Quito we rented a car and drove a couple hundred miles south to Guayaquil.  Since this is where Betty was originally from we spent the most time here.  It's another bustling city that is more modern than Quito.  We paid a visit to the University of Guayaquil where my wife received her doctorate degree.  Our delightful hostess in Guayaquil took us to many of the more notable sights of the city.  We also spent a day visiting some of the beaches along Ecuador's Pacific Coast.

          Returning to Quito for our flight home, we made a one night stopover at the resort town of Baños de Agua Santa .  The trip from Guayaquil took longer than anticipated so our visit to Banos was shorter than we had planned. The final day was a few hours spent getting back to Quito and turning in early so that we could get up at 2 AM in order to make it to the airport for an early flight. Our trusty cab driver from our earlier visit was there to take us to the airport. What a dependable guy he turned out to be.

          As I went through our photographic records of the trip I realized that I was heavy on video, but short on photos.   For this reason I don't have much in the way of scenic shots.   I mostly used the still camera for photos with my wife's friends and relatives.  

          By the way, my wife is originally from Ecuador, which is why she wanted to make this trip.  Her daughter wanted to meet some relatives and my wife wanted to catch up to friends she hadn't seen in decades.   Sweet wife treated me to the trip and I'm glad she did.  In my next post I'll explain a bit about my reluctance about going.  In this current post I'll share a few of the few photos I managed to take while in Ecuador.

Pululahua Crater not too far from the Equator Monument Park afforded a panoramic view.  It was a weekday so things weren't too busy out in the country.   The city was another story entirely.  I thought Los Angeles traffic was bad!

My lovely wife, Betty, at the Equator with the flag of the nation of her birth.  She  has an affection for Ecuador of course, but she's been a proud citizen of the United States for many years.

Arlee and Betty kissing at the Equator.

Posing in front of the Equator monument or "El Mitad del Mundo".    Though it's supposed to represent the zero degrees latitude line, it's actually a bit off.   The park where this is located is probably Quito's most visited attraction.

 My meal at the world renown five star La Mirage Garden Hotel Restaurant in Cotacachi.   It's a platter of typical Ecuadorian cuisine including pork prepared in a variety of ways, potatoes, mote (hominy), avocado, and a few other things of which I can't remember the names.  It was delicious.  Since we were there at lunch we had the restaurant to ourselves, but the service was still outstanding.  Without our cabdriver we'd probably have missed this experience. 
My wife and I during boat tour of Cuicocha Lake in crater at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano.   The mountain scenery around us was spectacular.
We stopped somewhere between Guayaquil and Baños for lunch.  The trip was amazing in it's beauty, but somewhat grueling with the mountain roads, construction, and periodic rain.   There weren't many choices for eating so we stopped in this town of which I don't recall the name.   The meal was not very memorable either.  I thought the town was picturesque enough for a photo.  This is the view from the restaurant where we ate.

         Here is my first experiment with putting together a movie.   This is a crater lake at the foot of the volcano Cotacachi.   The clip is about 7 minutes so you may wish to fast forward in places.

        I hope you've enjoyed my very brief overview of our trip.  I'll have a bit more to say on Friday.

         Have you been to Ecuador?   If so, what were your impressions of the country?   Have you ever made a reluctant journey that turned out much better than you expected?   Have you taken any trips yet this summer or have you planned one in the weeks to come?

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  1. What an experience! Since your wife is from there, you probably saw things most people don't. Photos are amazing. And no, I've never been there.

  2. What a wonderful post and experience for you Lee. It must have been moving for your wife to go back to her roots and your daughter to discover part of hers, The pictures are wonderful and video grand to see.
    I haven;t been to Equador but have a trip to Branson MO planned for November.
    Thanks for sharing this part of the world with us.

  3. Lovely post thank you Lee! How wonderful for you to share in Betty's trip back to her roots. I have heard that Ecuador is very beautiful and your photos are testament to that. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Last year I travelled with a girlfriend to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This was a great adventure better than hoped for.

  4. Supposedly, it's one of the top countries to retire in. Looks like a great place to visit, too.

  5. I never knew that your wife was from Ecuador so I find it even cooler now! It seems like such a great little country and it sounds like it was a great time, really pleased you guys got the experience, such a beautiful looking place.

  6. It is always a treat to visit a country with someone who lives there or who once did. And to find a dedicated cabbie--Wow!
    We recently returned from a trip to visit family in MN. It was wonderful to find the local butcher shop, watch some Little League baseball, enjoy a coffee at Java Jitters, and just get a glimpse of life there.

  7. How lovely to see you and meet your lovely wife as well. The photos are beautiful and Ecuador looks to be spectacular. Reminds me a bit of Guatemala. I've never been to Ecuador.

  8. I like this post a lot. I like the photos and getting a window on your adventure. You guys look pretty darn happy - great!
    I have not been to Ecuador. I did spend a summer in Colombia some years back and loved that. The Colombian people were so friendly and the area was so beautiful.
    I have taken only adventures of the inner kind this summer. But that has been plenty of adventure for me. The price you pay for transportation into yourself can be high but at least you don 't have to deal with the airlines!
    Looking forward to Friday's post.

  9. Never been to Ecuador, as I'm not fond of the heat, but my nephew loved that area when he visited a few years ago.

    Thanks for sharing the photos of your wife. Looks like it was a great holiday.

    I usually have a reluctance for visiting family on vacations. For a while it seemed that was all we did, so kids got to know cousins, etc. Florida I didn't mind, since it was new for kids and hubs.

  10. Alex -- Met a lot of people I wouldn't have otherwise.

    Yvonne -- I know you're looking forward to the Branson trip.

    Susan -- Ecuador is spectacular. It's fun to share the trip experience with others with whom you are close.

    Richard -- I'd read about the retirement benefits and after being there the thought has been crossing my mind.

    Yeamie -- I'm sure Ecuador has a lot to offer a younger guy like you. Hiking, surfing, and all sorts of activities that I wouldn't be doing too much of now.

    Pam -- I want to go to Minnesota. I haven't been there in decades. I have a cousin who lives there whom I'd like to see.

    Karen -- Geographically Ecuador and Guatemala are probably very similar. Culturally there are probably many similarities as well though my wife would probably deny it.

    Gracie -- I'm sure Colombia and Ecuador are very much alike. I agree about the avoidance of airline travel. There is much to be said for excursions into ones head.

    DG -- Actually this is a great time of year for Ecuador for my taste. Days were moderate and nights were cool. It was rather cool at the beach, but I never once needed a jacket and short sleeves are all I wore. The weather was ideal when we were there, but I understand that in our winter months Guayaquil can can pretty warm. Since Quito is in a higher altitude it stays fairly moderate most of the year though I was told it can get kind of cold in August. I'm guessing that means in the 40's or 50's Fahrenheit.


  11. I've never been to Ecuador but I did live in Central America and still miss it.

  12. Your pictures remind me of Costa Rica where my brother had a second home. You get the same sense of a country like ours 70-80 years ago, without freeways, oriented more toward towns than huge cities, and, of course, tropical.They're great places to visit - Hawaii without the pizzazz - but my brother finally decided that the expatriate life was not for him. I'm sure that you and your wife brought back some great memories.

  13. Beautiful photos! I'm glad you had a wonderful time.How great that you found such a dependable cab driver. Thanks for sharing your adventure and video with us.


  14. Wow! Sounds like a great trip. Are ya glad to be back home?

  15. Steven -- I'm sure Central America has much in common with Ecuador.

    Jack -- The Ecuadorian government appears to be doing a lot of upgrades to their highway system and it is well needed in many places. In other places the highways were more than adequate and quite nice. They need to improve things with the Quito street system. It took us 2 hours to find our way out of town when we went to Guayaquil.

    Julie -- Our cab driver started to seem like part of the family. He was a gem.

    Faraway-- It always feels good to get back home, but now we're considering a road trip back east and I'm looking forward to that too.


  16. I've never been to anywhere in central America. I'm glad the trip was fun.
    Two weeks from now my husband and I are traveling across the country to Colorado to visit my son during his internship.

  17. Lee-

    These days every journey is reluctant because of the hassles of air travel...I'll spare you the TSA rant although why we spent billions on scanners that x-ray through the bone but can't seem to penetrate my sneakers is beyond me.

    My only upcoming trip is my annual Todd Rundgren pilgrimage-this year's show is with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.

    I'm jealous-the Ecuador trip looks like it was fun!


  18. Wow what a trip. So interesting and beautiful, I imagine.

    The photos of you guys are great too.


  19. Wonderful trip Lee, I envy you. I am curious though, Betty doesn't sound a very Ecuadorian name, is that what she was christened?

    Are there any fish in the lake?

  20. Susan GK-- We are also planning a cross country trek in the next couple of weeks. Maybe we'll pass you along the way.

    Larry -- Actually the air travel part went pretty smooth with little intrusion upon our bodies. Have fun in Akron.

    Teresa-- I want to go back someday.

    Jo -- No fish in the lake because of some reason that is explained on Wikipedia that I can't remember now. Yes, Betty is her actual name given at birth. A number of Ecuadorians apparently have Anglo names. Betty named her daughter Diana after Princess Diana. Not sure why Betty's parents named her as they did. Betty has probably told me--I'll have to ask her again.


  21. I think you had a great time anyway.

    My last few trips out to Oregon were very reluctant. Things worked out, but I won't be traveling there again in the future.

  22. Looks like a interesting place to go. I am not good at travelling so I am well impressed......

  23. Welcome back! I often need a vacation after a vacation!

  24. Wow, what a trip. I've never been to Ecuador, but it looks like it was a nice getaway for you and your wife.

  25. BOIDMAN ~
    I'm late getting here, but those are some nice photos you posted.

    Glad to learn you had a good time and got back safely, Brother.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  26. So awesome! I can't imagine what you would have seen it you hadn't been tired!

  27. Hi Lee .. I've never been to South America - this is wonderful to read about and see via your shots and the video ..

    Well done - and you obviously had a fabulous time .. so pleased for you all - particularly your wife and her daughter ..

    Cheers Hilary

  28. I'm always up for travel, but have never been to Ecuador. It looks and sounds as if you had a great time! Very interesting about your wife being from Ecuador as well.

  29. I enjoyed this post and the video. It is encouraging me to travel when I can. There have been a few times when I've been reluctant. Right now, my 17 year old daughter is traveling through Spain and France. I had a chance to go, but sacrificed and stayed here so that she could have time without "Mommy" and mature and be prepared for college and real world.
    The closest I've been to South America is Aruba.
    It appears that you enjoyed his trip. Glad you went! Life is short. :)
    ps. It is nice seeing you and your family via the photos and video.

  30. Wow, Lee, I am just now catching up... what a marvelous trip! Of course I am biased since Colombia is my native country. I went to Ecuador twice, and I loved it, the mountains and beautiful landmarks are unforgettable.

    Betty is a common name in south america, and so is Doris :-)

    Very nice pictures, Lee.



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