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Saturday 28 Dec 2013
Quito, Ecuador

Mum goes to market...

Rather than drag Mum and Dad all the way out to Otavalo, we headed over to the Artisanal Market in Quito for some souvenir shopping.  It was fun watching Mum get drawn in.  She wanted a bag and a couple of scarves as presents, so we bartered happily with one stallholder.  He kept pulling out scarf after scarf from an enormous stack to show us different colours and designs.  Once we’d settled on the scarves, we then started on the brightly patterned table runners and chose a few of those too.  As always, we ended up with more than we’d intended but all walked away happy.  Dad treated us to handmade sorbets, which were delicious, before we dived back in for another round of shopping.  Dad and I negotiated on a 4-panel painting of a tree, which will look great on the wall of their new outhouse when the transformation to garden/sun room is complete.  Ailsa and Mum looked at jewellery a few stalls down and Ailsa worked her bartering magic to get Mum a hummingbird necklace, which I bought her for Christmas.

We had lunch in a nearby restaurant, sitting under an enormous telly showing the end of Rocky IV.  The music was so loud we couldn’t hear the sound from the film, but we found ourselves grotesquely fascinated by the big fight scene while eating our lunch.  I’ve never seen any of the Rocky films through and I can’t say this made me want to do so now, but somehow we just couldn't look away.

I picked up my washing from the launderette next door – a full set of clean clothes for a bargain $3. Mum and Dad were so impressed they decided to wash all their clothes before going home to save themselves the trouble when they unpack.

We had an hour or so to repack our bags before the welcome meeting with our Galápagos group.  I used it to book TAME flights to Cuenca on the most awkward website I’ve ever had to use.  It took a long time to load each section and when I finally confirmed my payment, I discovered the page had refreshed and changed my booking back to the first flight of the day, not the one I’d actually selected.  It clearly said my booking was changeable, but I couldn’t find anywhere on the web page that allowed me to do so.  Eventually I asked the guy on reception to have a look at the Spanish version of the page and see if I was missing something.  He kindly rang the airline for me, who informed me I could only change the details in person at a TAME desk!  Aargh!  Luckily I will be in the airport tomorrow morning for the Galápagos flight, otherwise I’d have really been stuck.

Our Galápagos welcome meeting had been scheduled for 6pm, but the welcome notice in the hotel had moved it forward to 5pm.  Not everyone had seen the new time, so there were a few people missing.  We had a mix of 15 passengers from Australia, America and Britain, ranging in age from early 30’s to late 60’s.  The Peregrine representative, David, gave us a run down of what to expect on the trip – we weren’t allowed to take our own alcohol but there was a bar on board (an astronomical $39 for a bottle of wine!).  He told us all about the local guide, who’d been born in Galápagos and worked there for over 20 years so was extremely knowledgeable, but when Ailsa asked the guide’s name, David didn’t know and had to look it up! 

After the meeting, eight of us met up for dinner at an Argentinian steak house nearby.  I wish we’d found this place sooner!  It was a casual place with mismatched tables and brightly painted chairs and a roaring fire in one corner.  The steaks were around $10 and cooked to perfection. Getting to know our fellow passengers, we discovered Juliette spent her early years in the next village from us and was probably at school with my cousin! It is indeed a small world.  The Americans were: Tim and Kate, a couple from Colorado who currently live and teach in Salvador, Brazil; Torrey from Boston, now a fundraiser in Washington DC; and Mark, also a teacher in Detroit.  He'd travelled on quite a few Intrepid and G Adventures trips before.  Jacky was Dutch, though had spent most of her life in the UK.  She was a former champion fencer, even getting selected for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow (although she missed her chance thanks to Margaret Thatcher's insitance that all civil servants boycott the games).  The Australians were Leigh and Jack, who lived near my friends in northern Sydney (they were full of life and character and turned out to be a lot of fun); and Shane and Sara, from Perth.  Shane was travelling for a few months, but Sara had only been able to join him for half of it.  A varied group and I look forward to getting to know them all better.

 

 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #3 Ecuador and Galapagos Islands

Travel blog by zobeedoo

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This is the big highlight of the year. Joined by my parents and reunited with Ailsa, we'll spend Christmas in Quito, then travel to Galápagos for New Year, celebrating in style with a week on the Queen Beatriz catamaran visiting the southern islands.

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