Ecuador Day 1

Hi Everyone

Hope we are all well and happy. The trip started last night. Our plane took off at midnight for Guayaquil Ecuador. The flight time is approximately seven hours. After getting settled in, I had some coffee and then fell asleep. At about one thirty AM the stewardess woke me up and asked me if I wanted dinner. I told her I did not look like I wanted dinner and then fell back to sleep. At about five thirty I was woken up by the plane landing. I have learned to sleep on planes, but the rest is not like sleeping in your bed.

We then walked through immigration and customs. No problems. Smooth sailing. It was then onto our connecting flight to Quito. We were flying on TAME Airlines. Go look that one up. Guayaquil is on the coast of Ecuador and about six hundred miles from the Galapagos. Our fifty minute flight was uneventful and we finally landed and disembarked. Quito was a lot colder and drier. After being met at the Airport by the hotel bus, I then checked the altitude on my iPhone. We were at about 9600 feet. Quito is the second highest capital city in the world. La Paz Bolivia is number one topping out at around 12,000 feet. As we drove towards the City, I began to see more and more houses and then we finally got to the City. Quito is an old city that has lots of narrow cobblestone streets. The large avenues and boulevards that exist in cities like Lima and Buenos Aires are not here. The architecture was very colonial Spanish and similar to the old section of Mexico City. Buildings had large wood doors and lots of small private terraces. The city sort of reminded me of cities in Northern Italy that had their narrow cobblestone streets.

After checking in to our beautiful hotel on the main plaza, myself and two of my friends from previous trips walked around Quito. I stopped and saw something interesting that a local Incan woman was selling. It was Yucca and it was fried. She wanted fifty cents and i gladly paid it. It looks like corn, but has a different taste. Yucca is a plant that is used for various medicinal purposes and popular here. It was very tasty and I understand why it is so popular. We walked to a church high on a hill that was quite unique. By the way, walking up hills at an altitude of 9600 feet can be quite tiresome. The uniqueness of the church was from the various depictions of animals around the facades. Animals such as caimens and gargoyle like creatures decorated the outside facade. We found a nice coffee shop and I tanked up on some very strong cappuccino for one dollar a cup.

It was then back to the hotel to rest. The hotel has a terrace overlooking the main plaza. I was able to use my telephoto lens and get some interesting pictures of the people in the square.

We all met at 5:45 for a visit to a church where the nuns take vows of silence and solitude. The church was about four hundred years old and had some interesting paintings.

It was then back to the hotel for a ten course dinner off local foods. I can say that this was one of the best meals I have ever had. Spectacular could be an understatement.

Tomorrow we leave at 9 AM for the Masphi Lodge. The Lodge is located in a rain forest called “The Choco”. We have been told that this rain forest is very unique and only one of its kind in the world. “The Choco” covers about three hundred thousand acres over four countries and the Masphi Reserve is about forty thousand of those acres. We have been also told that the wildlife does not come to you, but you need to find it. We have been told that there are various species of frogs, reptiles, birds, hummingbirds and other creatures that only exist here and no where else.