This trip has turned out to be a busy old trip
so best written up as short diary,It is like no other family holiday we have
ever had, but our lives are rather unusual right now so it's all in the
Monday (night travel) and
Holiday begins, it's taken a good 4 days to get
the boat ready to leave so we're all ready for a holiday..... After a coupld of
false starts at 10.30pm we catch the night bus to Quito, we are warned
that it's a cold airconditioned journey so we're equiped with all the cold
weather gear we have, this amounts to, not much.
Kids are amazing and fall straight to
sleep. Colin and I doze but have to keep half an eye on our bags as we are
told buses are patoled by theives and night buses are rich pickings.
arrive 6am in Quito, it's flipping freezing, dark and drizzling. Not
surprizingly we are the only folk in flip-flops everyone else is in winter boots
and Thick Coats. The Glove and Wooley hat sales man has a ropey array of
stock but boy do they look tempting.
Find a taxi and whizz to our hotel. who
kindly let us in and let us fall into our beds 1/2 a day early, but by god
this place is cold. It's an old Hacienda with open court-yard roof no
fires in the rooms and no central heating, we eventually discover the only
hot thing in the hotel and subsequently all have very long
Tuesday (Wet Wonderings)
Walk the streets of Quito but it's raining too
hard and we don't have any wet weather gear. We find refuge in an art
Gallery and see a fantastic World Press photographic exhibition, great for
colin and I but far too gruesome for the kids, So much war and missory
going on in the world, in contrast to this the British contribution was '
late afternoon on ladies day at the races'. A sea of discarded plastic
beer glasses on the floor and the glamourous ladies not looking quite so
polished anymore, such a great image of Blighty for all the world to
Coffee is not up
to much in Ecuador, one of the enduring disappointments of Ecuador.
aren't going too well so we consult 'Lonely Planet' take a taxi up to a
recommended place and discover we are in a room with a view. Only the room and
food make us feel like we're back in Scotland, Tartan table cloths, staff
in tartan wastecoats and dreadful food and service, the price list is about the
equivilant to Edinburgh too and this is cheap old Ecuador. Through gritted teeth
Colin is able to enthuse about the great views........
world photography kept us out of the rain for a while View over
More walks through a city who arquitecture seems
more inkeeping with a communist state. By the end of the day we all invest
in Vampire styling Rain ponchos, we go in search of another Lonely Planet
recommendation only to find it closed and end up in a worn out place that again
makes us feel like we are in war town eastern block, only this time we order 4
meals and are unable to consume a third of it. this time is only costs us 5 $
including 2 beers.
Another hot Shower, then into
followed by Cosmo taking us on a tour. We walk away from all tourist
haunts, which seems to us like a jolly good choice. We are then greated by
umpteen folk telling us to hold on to our stuff and not to take our camera
out. Cosmo eventually leads us to the San Fransisco covered market
with is great lovely jolly ladies taking delight in the blonde haired kids, one
toothless old lady even gives her stock away to the kids, two lovely wooden
spoons. More warnings of theft only this time they are concerned that our
children will be stollen. Strangely colin and I have not felt a
sniff of threat so far, it's South America and we are thinking the kids are
working in our favour.
Off piste at lunch and have a great delicious meal
for 4 and spend only $3 dollars, colin looking happier.
Bus to 3hr
Banos, The natural scenery gets better the longer we are on the road but the
architecture is just a load of breeze block, square boxes in various states of
hostal, La Petite Auberge, Kids in mezaneen bed so a little
separation plus fire in room. But the Receptionist is a lazy psyco, who
won't light the fires and she finishes at 8pm far to late for our room to heat
up. I'm thinking very soon after arrival that colin is not liking
town, it's fall of tourist rubbish for sale. Supper consists of the worst pizza
on the planet, things just aren't getting better.
At 8pm the nice night
receptionist takes over and gets to work lighting a fire with supper wet
wood, But we are joined by an interesting Canadian guy who told moving
stories about surviving the tsunami in
breakfast were the butter looked mouldy. Dispite Colins increasing down turn of
face we managed to convince him to hire a jeep for a few hours. Banos is
full of hire shops, which seems to
lead to a really badly maintained stock,
our Jeep is no exception, but it is good old South American. Ours has no roof,
no handbreak, no helmets, no seat belts and to be honest no breaks. This
doesn't help my nerves every time Colin drives over 10miles an hour, which is
We are told the second family zip cage is the best one but rocking up our
confidence is not instilled seeing a dismantled car engine with driver on a
racing car seat in. What we really didn't know was we would be suspended
over a 600 ft gorge and propelled at high speed, oh and no lock on the
gate. Bloody hell it was some adrenoline rush with Colin and my eye brows
propelled to the top of our faces every time we looked at each other saying 'OH
MY GOD' this was followed by a steep scary walk down a waterfall. We then
have to repeat the scary trip the other way. Only this time we have 6 worker men
on board and the cage stops half way and returns to it's departure spot to
collect more folk.................. all very free rangey and not even the
gate bolted ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Then went on to a peaceful if
not baltic swim in waterfall pools, kids are getting used to steep walks
now. I would say at this point we whizzed back to Banos unscathed, buy
thats not true, I have already shot Cosmo off a buggy once on this trip
(Antigua) but now Colin misses the bump in the road, Cosmo is propelled
forward onto the monkey bar and manages to bash his tooth out,
8pm that night we discover we came off lightly fellow guests vehicle never even
made it as far as the first zip and when they returned 4 hrs later the rental
company tried to charge them over time, obviously there distress phone had a
fault going on that day. We heard other horrors of hardcore hikers being
abandoned by guilds 1/2 way up Volcanos whilst suffering from altertude
More Dreadful food that night just makes us want to leave as
soon as, this is compounded when Colin unceremoniously not being allowed into
the Hot Spring Baths in his fetching well travelled CK underpants. No
justice in this world!
Cosmo insists on
a family game of 'Sticks with Balls' (pool to you and me). Then hop on a bus
direct to our next destination, Riobamba. Not what the guide book told us
was possible. We are beginning to have a jaundiced view of our Victorian
are in Riobamba, not knowing where to go after this but here to experience our
first local market (this is not a tourist town) Find the cheapest but
recommended on in the LP, it tells us it's a bit bizarre and it really is.
Run by a lovely family, lovely kind mum and Dad who obviously like gnomes
and piped music in there garden.... Kids are a product of mum and dad we
expect, very very camp son, a daughter who looks like a tramp and a
shell-suit wearing daughter who has a smattering of English. Colin is rather
enjoying things now due to the strangeness of it all.
Great walk through
town, there's some cowboys in them there hills due to the amount of Chap
makers. Colin has his first shave and the kids and I find another great
under covered daily market.
arrives, Cosmo on a mission to buy a sling shot.
Breakfast on the
hoof, Eating fine fare from the market starting with Crispy Pork, sweet
bread wrapped in an aniseed tasting leaf, yummy puff pastry cones filled with
toffee and custard. and finishing with totally delious fried plantain and
potato Crisps foisted on us by a lovely lady.
Loads of toothless Old
Ladies all wanting to shake hands with Cosmo, he took to this rather well,
god help us if this is the beginnings of his political career.
is totally indigineous we are the only tourists, and no one is self
laid out. we did not get to eat therm here.
Bus to the
next place, Guaranda, only we haven't booked and the bus is full to
bursting. Puppies, Rabbits and god knows what on top but we get lucky and
for the first 10 mins and find seats. Only just when we thing we can relax
the young beetnik band come along and reclaim them. So for the next 90mins
the kids are seated on the floor and we're standing. But it's a great bus
ride, everyone is super friendly and if we had wanted to we probably would have
be able to claim every seat on the bus, even the beatniks revised there
position and offered our seats back, if we had had seats we wouldn't have had
half such a good trip. Every one around really really keen to show us the
best of the views out of there windows as we passed near the top of a snow clad
Kids on the
floor of the bus
We where finally dropped at the side of the road with the
promise we would find a lift up to our final destination, The first open
ended van that comes past Colin flags down and we are now travelling at
breakneck speed up a drizzly, slippy road in the back of a small truck (called a
caminoetta) and we are all loving it, it's the fastest 35 K I've ever
arrive at Salinas hungry excited and feeling like aliens. We're told to
walk up a muddy hill to find the hostal, on route we're intercepted by a private
hostal owner touting rooms for 1/3 of the price of the community run hostal
and by the looks of his place you know why..... After looking over our
originaly choice we opt of Senior Victors place, and boy it is ropey but has
such a charm we're sold. The shower room isn't exactly clean but he's in
there pushing the last guests pubic hair in a less evident position and joy of
joys he lights a fire which he continues to feed from dawn to dusk. Victors
place is the best place we've stayed so far, there is no way we're going to try
having a shower here but Victor is such a treasure. Once settled we head in to
the village, fully vampired up with black capes, only to find a co-operative
selling hand knitt alpaca and lambs clothing. We leave the shop with 4 pairs
socks, 2 jumpers, 1 poncho, 2 pairs of gloves, it's a bonanza day for
Salinas and I can't wait to put my socks on and get my toes warm.
into the room before 7am whilst we are dozing to restart the fire.
It's still raining in Salinas, whilst we might now have warm toes our only
footwear are Keens Hiking Sandles or flip flops, not exactly perfect
at 3555 feet above sea level. Great brief views of large cliffs
looming over the village and huge mountain-scapes off in the distance.
Ladies in the
shop. Note the lack of stock as Liz has swept through the
We're in dairy country here and as the village seems to
operate an incredible group of co-opterative, it's our sort of town. From
about 6 am you hear the donkeys, mules and llamas hoofing down the road to the
cheese making factory. We then discover the rest of the co-ops.
- Really good Salami
- Swiss Style cheese and Yogurt
Amazing Yarn and finished hand knit items
- Very good Chocolate
- Footballs !?!?!
Alpacha wool shop
. . . . . . from pig to
Salami . . . . . .
Milk brought to the cheese factory
This place is a dream, and barely another tourists
to be seen. We share the hostal with James and Claire from the UK who,
like us, have stumbled across the place by chance. They're on there way to
work on a WOOF farm, in there flip flops, so typically british (see http://www.wwoof.org/).
off to a WOOF farm for a week
First cowboy (no chaps)
Nags and llamas
The end of Week one and things really are looking
up for us. The natural beauty of the Andes massively out weighs the blots
on the architectural landscape, and joy of joys we're not feeling like
herded tourist traffic anymore.