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Date: 14 Feb 2011 20:21:00
Title: Salinas and the Quilotoa Loop - Week2

Monday
Finally look at the Spanish Phrase book and ask Victor if the horses are coming.  Colin who is bloody amazing at picking up languages and is now doing most of the family conversing has been planning with Victor that each day he will organise horses for us, only today Colin finds the right word for Horse, and Victor tell him, "Horses?! oh no I don't do horses you need to go and ask elsewhere!", so no horses for the kids in Salinas............

Hop in a camionetta (truck), Cosmo and Colin opt for the open air back, Z and I opt for the comfy seats.  An hour later I think Colin wishes he did the same, there are 15 folk in the back , grannies, babies, milk churns and horseless cowboys, chickens, cheese.  The truck finally gets stopped by police and the driver fined, even this is ridiculous for Ecuador.

We get dropped at the next town bus station, Guaranda, and quickly find a connection. And boy the scenary out of the window is incredible,  what is amazing is the kids are as transfixed by it as us.  For the next 2 hours we are all glued to the window.  We really are starting to enjoy ourselves and Ecuador despite the cold is proving to be a great experience.

Latacunga is a nice town more working than tourist but a great place to reach cotopaxi and other amazing walking areas.  So with no reservation there is no room at the inn and we end up walking from hostal to hostal to find a clean room and shower.  Job done 1/2 later and for $20 the whole family are comfortably housed and with an added luxury of a hot shower.
   
                               The hat man
Meat in the market      Cows heads being butchered with an axe!

We go off hunting for the local speciality Pork and dispite finding the LP recommendation closed we do find ourselved on Pork alley.  So we consume some dry old pork some cold crispy pork skin all accompanied by pop corn.........

Tuesday
Great walk around town, followed by breakfast in ecuador equivilant of a greasy spoon only it would have been shut down years ago if the Health inspector had seen the state of the kitchen. Today we're off to our first Hasienda, Pasado de Tigua, and I'm dreaming of clean, warm and good home cooked food.  After another fabulous bus journey, no noise from the kids we get dropped ready for a wet 4 km walk to the farm.  Luckily  the owners drive down at the same time and our pain of 6 bags is lessened.

Farm house is good basic but clean rooms, and a wonderful wood burner to huddle around. That afternoon the kids get to ride a Lama and we do too, poor bloody beast. Cosmo and Z are loving dressing up in Poncho and hats. Delicious dinner and drink Canalasso for the first time now we feel like we're on holiday and are being treated.
    
The kids first go at hand milking,  the 3 and 8 year olds where professionals we were all rather limp handed, But Z loved it and didn't want to leave the dairy.
         
Llama riding is a big hit

We also meet young James from Texas how remindes us why we started to do this trip,  he is at the beginning of his rat race,  and it just made us shiver at the thought of what he was having to do, to make folk believe in him and the product he sells. yuck!

Wednesday
Farm house Breakfast, packed lunch and walk up to a few art Galleries in the Andies ( sound good don't you think) The Sun came out and dispite saving lots of dosh as we didn't fall in love with Tigua Art the walk was great. Kids got to dress up again in ponchos Cosmo even found a pair of Chaps that fitted him which finished the dressing up a cowboys. 
Colin too found a pair that fitted him a treat too.
Lazy afternoon playing with dogs milking and family games round the fire once the rain set in.  

Thursday
    
Travels in Ecuador did'nt exactly start well and at any given minute I thought we would be heading back to the boat, saving money and giving up with inland travel.  Thankfully Salinas, Bus rides off the beat and track, the totally inspiring scenery,  and lovely Victor helped us turn the corner.

On with the next leg of a loop and to get up close and personal with our first Volcano, Quilatoa.  But before this happens we have to experience the long awaited horse riding.  colin and I are left to lead only the old nags.  And this is quickly reduced to me due to Colins unsuitable footwear.  The mud is so thick that on the return journey I opt to join Z on her horse this isn't well receive by said said nag.  Bucking me off with z hanging on for dear life,  think we managed to save on horse-riding lessons for Z.
 
Lift up the road to the bus but not sure where we're going to say tonight,  chance meeting with smiley lady on bus and we've found a room in her hostal,  Only Colin is very unsure.  We opt to leave the bags pay for the room but ask for light bulb to be replaced as clearly not working.  Walk up to the breath taking lake in the middle of Quiatoa Volcano,  It's great just sitting and listening to folks reaction when they get a first glance. 'Wow, ohh my god, awsome, flipping heck etc etc and it deserved the lot.  After lunch we troup down the road and discover that the light bulb wasn't the problem with the light,  the village hasn't had light for 2 day,  and the hostal doesn't have any water either,  just forgot to inform us of this pre-payment,  Colin manages to extract after much justiculation $40 of the 45 we have coufed up but the witch says she will keep the $5 as she now needs to re distribute the dirt on the filthy floor.  I am afraid to say I see red at this and go in all guns blazing.  If there's one thing I can't bare it's dishonestly and theft.  After a little requesting for the missing $5 my voice and temper start to rise and the screams of theif seems to bring the attentions of most folk in the vicinity,  By now I have an audience and I'm so incensed,  I continue and then remove $5 of beer sitting in the fridge.  By the time we stomp out of town,  we're lugging all our luggage totally red with rage and looking like bad alcoholic parent brandishing 4 large bottles of beer.  Lonely Planet almosts puts a dent in the trash can!
 The amazing Quilatoa crater.  totally jaw-dropping

A truck driver having not heard earlier, takes pity on us and stops to give us a lift to yet another ropey town down the road.  Where the hostal is barren, cold and we're convinced we're going to be eaten alive by the bugs in the beds, but there is no option.   The local indiginous residence appear to being a bit of a mid afternoon  booze-up in the square,  the only up side of our accommodation is we have balcony over the square which leads to midboggling viewing at about 5pm.  The ladies are all totoering around in there finest, black highheals and white socks with beautiful embroidered showls,  the men are way past totering and about 50% seem unable to walk.  the other 50% seem to be engaging in fisty cuiffs.  It's real life drama at it's best.  Mean while there are about 5 trucks waiting for the party to leave.  Finally after much shoving and many carrying folk into backs of trucks the assembled party leave town just before dark.  We later discover it was a Wedding Party, culturally not much different to those in England...................
  

Friday (The Journey)

We're woken by our truely bonkers Landlandy.  The Canny old bird has come to use Colins Mobile and make sure she arranges for our Camioneta to the next town,  from our experience from yesterday we're not going to be duped again so Colin runs over the square to find someone who will take us for $20,  But the old bird is dashing over the square in hot persuate, bloody hell she moved fast for a fat bird.  But too late Colin has already done the deal.  Not content to wave us off,  the Old Bird pushes the other local passengers out and gets in next to the driver,  our only luxury is a matress she picks up from the Hostal and we're in the open back with the bags.  about 4 km out in the wilds the old bird has obviously bent the drivers ear enough for him to stop the car to tell us the price has just gone up due to road conditions, the old bird at this minute is peeing at the side of the road,  but we're being very ambigous with our about agreeing to the new terms.  After 4 more stops and alot of road rebuilding we've started to think perhaps $25 will be just fine.  But that's when it becomes obvious that our truck and driver just are not up to the challange.  Luckily for everyone the local Chicken rolls around the hill at just the right moment.  Colin negociated a change of truck, and dispite only being about halfway to  our destination the wyley old witch manages to grasp $20 for herself and give $5 to our new driver.  If only we had been able to record the rest of our trip...... Pollo Pollooooooo $1.25 each sang out over the load speaker to inform the valley of the shop truck iminant arrival,  We are  also treated to the sound of about 1000 chirping chickens,  The smell is over powering and the ride unbearibly  bumpy, with the occasional stop for chicken trading,  Fan bloody tastick.
  
Once we reach our Eco Lodge we stink, it's taken 3 hours and we are all famished but what a treat we have found.  Clean Clean Clean with about the best views in the world,  I do not want to leave. Not only is this place a utter haven,  more young kids arrive, double magic.  Fantastic group of folk for our first nights stay,  Cool young Eco Warriers and U.S Aid diplomates.   Added to the already fabulous place, it's a full moon and we are able to have a fire out-side out little lodge,  watching magical views disappear and then reappear through thick mountain mist (we are at about 3500mtrs above sealevel here).
 
   
 
"A Room with a Poo" - Composintg toilets are one of the highlights.  Just the most amazing view from the crapper.  makes you want to stay all day.
  
  Highest Frizbee Golf in the world
Saturday
7am Yoga in the studio with views over snow capped mountains and sunshine beaming down.

8.30am Breakfast and best Museli and fresh fruit (receipe to follow)

9am  Start our horse track down the canon,  Kids had all the training they needed 2 days ago and are now left to ride solo. When  we say Canion bloody hell  it's near verticle.  The kids are fantastic and from being led 2 days ago Cosmo is now Trotting and rather scarily Galloping too,  he's a born cowboy. Colin however has confirmed his loathing of the 4 legged modes of transport after being kicked by Cosmos very naughty beast of a horse.
   View from above. Looking down
2pm back to our bit of heaven and we're Zip Wiring(Zinnia's new Love) and playing at the highest  Frisbee Golf in the world. 
 
It's day two and Cosmo is now torn between his new carear choices Cowboy or professional Darts Player,  whilst Bushes face has now been removed from the board Cosmo is loving near missing most of the other guests.

I think we are now all commited to staying in Eco Lodges if we can ever afford to have a holiday again in our lives

5pm and the sauna and Hot tub are ready for us but not before we've done at least one more activity.  A bit of a long scarey slide that you decend on a plastic sheet into a cold muddy pond.  Fearless Cosmo bails out at the last moment, thank god but that leaves Mummy to show the kids it's not scarey.  AND I AM LYING.  I scream my way down and later find out it's called the Death Slide, for good reason.  Cosmo and Colin next which leaves Cosmo rather traumatised,  The Black sheep have now names him 'The Bravest Kid they know'
   
After over nearly 2 weeks on the road with out a mirror my skin is ingrained with dirt,  The Sauna sorts this out amazingly.

We have had such an amazing time here and just do not want to leave but they really isn't any room at the inn and we have to more off down the road. Tomorrow.  Another Delicious Family style dinner with more great folk and yet more kids, bonanaza.

Sunday (Magic folk)
Pancakes and fruit for breakfast, and jazz.
 
Say good bye to lovely folk and walk afew 100 metres round the corner.  To a lesser but still great Inn.  The Ecuadorian President was staying here last night, so it's not bad.  And it's here we really strike Gold  we first meet Martin and Sue from Manchester, Bonkers but still sane if you know what I mean.  They left the rat-race 4 years ago, and got to Ecuador about 2 months ago.  They got here on push-bike, the journey started in Canada, and with the exception of the Panama-Cartagena boat run they have done the hole trip by push power; Totally magic folk. 
 Martin and Sue www.bumsonwheels.com     Zin and Gabby
   Donald Smith
Then the other person staying at the lodge was a 72 yr old Scots from Mull.  Donald is an inspiration to us all, and for me to be inspired by a non drinking vegan is saying something............ it's a bit of an anathomer for Scotland to produce such a person too. If any president was to meet a better representaion of British Folk, you couldn't wish for a better impression of a populas, if only it truely represented.

 

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