Who-oa we’re half way there

Quito, Ecuador

After about 15,000km of bus travel, on Friday, while negotiating a beautiful set of hairpins round a dramatic river gorge, we finally passed over the equator back to the north. Both staring as much at the screen of the GPS as we were at the view, it was quite an exciting moment.

The cunning amongst you have already spotted we set off south at the start of southern summer. Now that its over, its time to get north and follow the sun. Did someone mention Spring?

As Marisa has said, it’s been wonderful to follow the route and see so many amazing places. Lets hope the second half of the journey can match it. But first, this afternoon, we set off to where Lonely Planet fear to tread – who knows quite what to expect on the rivers. It may be a while before we reach email again!

The last few weeks in Ecuador have been fascinating and great fun. It’s an intriguing little (by local standards) place. The warmest friendliest people we think we’ve yet met – but at the same time less deeply resonant of a distinct national culture.

You’d think, as a small place, that Ecuador would feel more consistent than sprawling Peru or Argentina, yet if anything it manages to be more disparate – the difference between the beautifully dressed market town people of the north, in their ponchos and jewellery, and the city dwellers of the south, sporting Tommy Hillfiger jeans and baseball caps, has been hard to compute.

Its a country rich in things to do – we could only begin to sample the options – horseriding, traintop riding, hiking, biking, bathing, shopping. Yet hanging out here seems less mesmerising than Bolivia. Ecuador is a lovely place – but hard to understand.

One thing that is easy to understand here is the beauty. The word pretty is defined by Ecuador – from the endless banana plantations of the coast to the rippling mountains and insane volcanoes (our volcano watching trip got us good view of a lot of billowing smoke, but only in our imaginations and our dreams did we actually see red hot lava!). We both hope the descent to the jungle will live up to the same standards. In Ecuador, we can be confident that it will.

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