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If you like Chiquita bananas and getting caught in the rain….

By Allan: If you like Chiquita bananas and getting caught in the rain. It rains every afternoon in Quito elevation 9350 feet and one of Ecuador’s main exports is bananas. So, apologies to the Pina Colada song dude. We caught our Uber to LAX at 5:30am. Aaron our driver was very articulate and loved to... Continue Reading →

The Sound of Quito

By Marla: Quito is an interesting city. It’s the capital of Ecuador with a population of around three million and located on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano just south of the equator. We stayed at the Hilton Colon which is located along a busy intersection in the business district of Quito and not far... Continue Reading →

Historic Old Town

By Marla: We met our new travel mates in the conference room of the Hilton Colon in Quito. I quickly counted 14 people and was simultaneously stunned and giddy over the prospects of the small size. As we took our seats I began to surmise my fellow travelers. Who would be the wanderers, the dissenters,... Continue Reading →

Coca Leaves, Candy and Cocaine

By Marla: While ambling down the ancient cobblestone streets of Quito’s old town, our group was approached by a woman selling coca leaves and candy. Hmmm? All right, but I’m pretty sure this might be illegal? A fellow traveler had recommended these for altitude sickness and headaches. Ok, but what exactly is this? Cocaine? The... Continue Reading →

High Altitude at Zero Latitude

By Allan: The bus stopped at the equator monument built in 1980. It is designed like a small town with a square in the middle and small houses surrounding the monument. The “houses” are restaurants and shops and in the town square a fashion show as in progress accompanied by loud dance club music. Boom... Continue Reading →

Hacienda Pinsaqui

By Marla: What is this delightful place? When GATE1 changed our hotel I hadn’t given it much thought, but I certainly wasn’t expecting “Shangri-La”. So when we pulled up to the Hacienda I was simply elated over our new utopian paradise! This unexpected beauty is Hacienda Pinsaqui and is located about 1 1/2 hours north... Continue Reading →

Who let the Dogs out?

By Allan: Who let the dogs out? Or, Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls… After a delightful breakfast and a 20 minute drive we were the first tour group to pull into Pachunga Cascadia, or waterfall. This park is run by the local indigenous people who maintain the trails, service the banos and of course sell trinkets... Continue Reading →

Market Day in Otavalo

By Allan: After the waterfall and averted dog mauling the bus headed towards a market where we were told was THE place to do our shopping. The Mercado near our hotel in Quito was pretty cool and we had held off buying there waiting for this Mercado to help the Ecuadorian economy with some dollars.... Continue Reading →

The Hotel Papallacta

By Allan: After a long day we were looking forward to our stay at a Spa Hotel , The Papallacta. It was near the summit of our drive over the mountains and on the way there we stopped at the highest road in Ecuador. The Papallacta also is built around about a dozen natural hot... Continue Reading →

Amazon Hut

By Marla: A few fun facts: The Amazon Rain Forest is approximately the same size as the United States and has at least 30% of the planets fresh water. Our small group piled in the caravan for a five hour drive from our resort Papallacta to the Amazon basin resulting in an elevation drop of... Continue Reading →

Our Tour Almost Ended Today

By Allan: Photo credit: NPR 2019 protest: In 2019 there were protests over the price of gasoline by the rice farmers. The price had risen cutting into their profits and their livelihood so they protested by blocking the Pan American highway bringing this vital route to a stop. This protest affected the rose and banana... Continue Reading →

A Walk in the Forest

By Allan: Not just any Forest the freaking Amazon Rain Forest. We headed down to the Boot Room, or Booty Room or even the Boot Barn to put on our big giant rubber boots that one wears in the forest. The hotel provides these and you put your shoes in a cubby until you return.... Continue Reading →

Rift Raft

By Allan: After our Amazon rain forest walk we hopped back on the boats and cruised across the river to a sandbar where two balsa wood rafts were waiting. They were like it sounds, balsa logs tied together like in the movies. We sat on the edge of the rafts dangling our legs in the... Continue Reading →

Grubhub of the Jungle

By Marla: We’re a little adventurous I admit. When we set out for new places we get a kick out of trying the local foods, or you know “eat like the natives”. At a food bazar in Thailand for example, we ate bbq’d scorpion on a stick. It tasted like burnt chicken. Then on the... Continue Reading →

The Rope Torture

By Allan: One of the excursions we signed up for was a Canopy Adventure Park featuring a rope obstacle course. We have done zip lining before and one excursion also included rappelling down waterfalls and climbing rope ladders. Heck we did it when our kids were around 10 and 16 years of age. We got... Continue Reading →

Loco Gringos Like to Party

By Allan: All tour groups have the quiet person, the gregarious person, the complainer and the cool easy going fun seniors which was us. There are also some who like to let loose at the end of the day at the bar. Within our tour group were a couple of traveling buddies, a retired teacher,... Continue Reading →

Where there is Oil there is Greed

By Marla: Where there is oil there is greed. Where there is evangelism there is influence. I believe these elements contributed to the Indigenous Huaroni Tribe being exploited and coerced from a way of life they had known for centuries. Good? Bad? This is not a fairytale about one of Ecuador’s most lucrative exports, oil.... Continue Reading →

Road Closures, Police Escorts and Mudslides

By Marla: Several days prior on our way to Otavalo we encountered a temporary road closure that wasn’t from an accident, but due to “potential accidents” from the rain. So since the roads were slippery the Ecuadorian Transit Police had arranged for police escorts on sections of this Pan American highway. The highway is well... Continue Reading →

Descent into the Devils Cauldron

By Marla: We left early to reach the waterfall known as the “Pailon del Diablo” or “Devils Caldron” but were delayed due to mudslides, leaving only a few hours to hustle down the trail and back. Not everyone in the group was up to the task and called it quits at the first viewing platform.... Continue Reading →

Night at the Monastery

By Allan: The town of Banos is a favorite among younger people, college kids and hikers. There are many hostels in the area included one called the Transylvania Hostel. We had lunch at “Donde Ivan” a local restaurant in Banos. I had the trout and Marla had chicken with mystery vegetables. I routinely order things... Continue Reading →

Everything’s coming up Roses!

By Marla: Why didn’t I expect this to be my cup of rose flavored tea? I love gardening and what girl doesn’t like a bouquet of roses anyway? I expected more of a “come…see…sniff….and go” kind of thing with our visit to a rose plantation, but actually there was so much more. I conjured up... Continue Reading →

Mi Casa Su Casa

By Allan: Today we visited a big beautiful hacienda for lunch that is also the residence of a local artist, Aida. The house was recently for sale at $1.2 million had several rooms spread out in a nook and cranny fashion, with every room up a step or down a step or two. Her art... Continue Reading →

People of Ecuador

By Marla: Some may judge us as voyeurs or the captors of souls, but we find people fascinating. Who are you? What are you thinking? Where did you come from and where are you going? That moment of evading one’s solitude with a simple click. An embedded image. Allan has the gifted eye always considering... Continue Reading →

The Ecuadorian Super Highway

By Marla: This is a story about guns, drug trafficking and Cartels but not necessarily in that order. Many South American countries have been synonymous with the drug trade and Ecuador with its centralized location is considered one of the worlds “Superhighways” for trafficking of these illicit drugs. Peru for example is known for its... Continue Reading →

Ya Can’t Beato Quito part 2

By Allan: All goods things must come to an end, it is the nature of glass to eventually break. The tour stopped where it started in Quito and we had our goodbye dinner. We have really bonded with a number of fellow travelers and will stay in touch with a couple. We might book a... Continue Reading →

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