A Travellerspoint blog

August 2007

Looking back on our first days in Quito

And on blogging

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I started telling you about our 3rd day in Quito because I had just experienced it and was still feeling so HIGH from the whole experience but I must also tell you about the rest of Quito in words and in pictures, of course.

Here's what I had written in my diary.

WELCOME TO QUITO
A gruelsome 8 hour overnight journey on a very bumpy bus. My head hit the ceiling of the bus 3 times it was so crazy. And I spent the entire journey holding on to Brel (sprawled all over me, asleep) with my dear life. As we got closer and closer to Quito, it got freezing cold inside the bus ... and so the shivering began and Brel also became my blanket and I spread all the clothes I had on hand to cover his entire body. Arghhh sooo uncomfortable the whole thing!

Arrived at the Quito bus terminal just passed 5 am. Pitch dark, rain and men in dressed in black from head to toe (including face masks through which only their eyes were visible) AND FULLY ARMED. That's just no way to make someone feel welcomed here. SHIT! Not reassuring at all after the countless stories I have heard (all sorts of armed robberies) from fellow travellers and warnings read all over my guidebook. It was clear now. This city is dangerous.

Hopped in a cab. That in itself is always dangerous but what could I do? Every move you make is a risk here. I just keep those eyes open all the time, hang on to Brel and hope everything will be alright. And my risks are always calculated. We made it to the hostal. Slept in till noon. Brel woke up in pieces and we both had bad headaches. To be expected ... Quito is 2850m above sea level.

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Took it really easy all day. Walked very slowly up and down the amazingly narrow colonial streets of the old town. Incredible views of the mountains, the crowded houses in pastel colours, clumped by colour. Somewhat like the clothes at the Salvation Army. Pink houses clustered together, then the blue group, the yellow ... GORGEOUS!

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My guide says that the old town is A MAZE OF COLONIAL SPLENDOR and that it is! TO WALK ITS NARROW STREETS IS TO WANDER INTO ANOTHER WORLD. Oh yes!

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The ANDES (finally we're here) are always present and nothing is flat. The houses make me think of x-mas gifts piled up under the tree; different sizes all wrapped up in a multitude of colour. I keep on getting flashes of Louise Nevelson's boxes/sculptures. Maybe she came here for inspiration! (Tried to paste one of her pieces here but was unable to, sorry).

Arrived at PLAZA GRANDE. It's the center of the Old Town. Almost as beautiful as the Grand Place in Bruxelles but here it is clear that religion occupies a much more important place. Cathedrals, churches, crosses and all kinds of museums. And sadly, lots of little children shoe shining.

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And a fabulous internet cafe. Finally a fast connection. For 3 weeks we tried connecting on the coast. A nightmare! They are connected to internet through their mobile phones. You just can't imagine how long it took just to log on to gmail...and to get to my blog, I won't tell you the frustration. So here we were able to upload photos!!!

And then for my sweet Brel who really deserved it... a movie. I had promised him that we would go to the cinema as soon as we got to a city. And this day was perfect for it since he wasn't feeling 100%. We took the TROLEY, a sort of bus on rails, to see LOS REYES DE LA OLAS in spanish of course (no subtitles) and Brel needed NO TRANSLATION.

DAY 2 IN QUITO
At breakfast we met an Italian that doesn't speak english or french. Our only common language was spanish. How funny is that? Long conversations between 2 Quebecois and 1 italian in SPANISH!!! He learned spanish In Buenas Aires and so his accent in spanish is quite funny and charming. Made Brel laugh a lot. Decided to walk back to the Old Town together.

Brel and I had a rendez-vous with ART. A fabulous ANDY WARHOL exhibition at the CENTRO CULTURAL METROPOLITANO was waiting for us. Oh art ... how good it felt, and they did such an amazing job!!! They recreated the FACTORY (his studio, meeting place for "happenings"), showed sculptures, films, book editions and lots of silskscreened series. Although I'm not a huge fan, I seem to meet Warhol on all my big trips. Even saw him in Sante Fe on my roadtrip to Mexico 2 years ago. I loved his illustrated silkscreened recipes. Lush colours and an edible line. Gorgeous and tasty.

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An afternoon walk to the MARISCAL (considered extremely dangerous after dark in my Lonely Planet). Not interesting. Hostal after hostal, restaurants (for tourists), and evrything else tourists might need and want. Not of much interest until we landed in front of the MINDALAE (Ethnic museum of Ecuadorian artesanias). INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCE THERE!!!! We had our own guided tour of this fabulous magical place in spanish (for our italian friend) and learned a ton of stuff about the shamans, textiles, weavings, pottery, hats, arms, animals, basketry ... The museum is completely new, not even a year old yet, not in the guides but what a treat it is. Beautiful building and incredible displays that through the light (and lack of when necessary) really recreated the magical ritual atmosphere. Sorry, no pictures allowed. Many little ceramic figures blew my mind. A KICHUA goddess who devoured all the men she slept with (had a second mouth hidden at the back of her head) was definitely my favourite. And the textiles- woven belts that indicate if a woman is single, still able to bear children ...And the beaded necklaces which depending on how many times they are wrapped around the woman's neck, indicate her status. So much info in their dress. Everything is coded, filled with symbols and meaning. Nothing is empty here.

Back to the internet cafe (the blogging takes hours I have to admit) and home in a taxi. I have to admit that I constantly feel the danger here, especially at night. There are armed policias EVERYWHERE.

Off to OTAVALO today (2 hours north) where Brel and I will take an intensive one week (4 hours a day) spanish private class and live with a family. Exciting! Brel says we should meet the family first before deciding to do the HOMESTAY so that we can choose to stay in a hostal instead if it doesn't seem so great. Not a bad idea. We'll keep you posted.

One last thing ... ABOUT BLOGGING. I have to admit that it is taking over my life. Won`t let me sleep anymore. It's too exciting. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas, stories to tell and they keep me up because sentences run around in my head... and I don't want to forget...and i don't want to turn the light on to write everything down because I don't want to wake Brel up. I think of details and details that I see that I can`t capture with the camera. When will there be computers in front of which you can just sit and all that info in your head will just enter slowly, in detail with you just having to concentrate on the thoughts, the info ??? Somebody please help me. I can't type or write as fast as I think at the moment and I am blogging constantly (in my head). Arghhhhh.

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Besos de Quito

Posted by patsybrel 06:43 Archived in Ecuador Comments (10)

Oh Quito ...

Teleferico, mind blowing views, des chevaux et des nuages

Je vais d'abord commencer avec aujourd'hui, troisieme journee a QUITO.
Par ou commencer? Tellement c'etait extraordinaire.

Nous avons decide de commencer notre journee en prenant le telepherique qui nous a amene a 4100 m d'altitude pendant 2,5 km. Que dire? WOW, WOW ET WOW. Une vue de tres haut de cette ville tellement vaste, d'arbres gigantesques, de forets qui semblaient etre des brocolis (de si haut), des petites maisons entasses les unes sur les autres, des cathedrales et eglises partout, des volcans et de ces montagnes toujours presentes en arriere scene.

Et puis il fallait marcher et marcher, et ce avec le coeur qui palpitait, qui battait comme un tambour ... je pensais qu'il allait se sauver de mon corps ou tout simplement exploser. Et puis mes dames et messieurs, NOUS sommes arrives jusqu'au ciel. Et oui, le coeur et la tete dans les nuages. Et ce fut extraordinaire. Et Brel qui au debut ne voulait pas marcher. Il faisait tres tres froid la-haut et il avait mal a la tete et puis mal au ventre. Je suis rentree me rechauffer avec lui et puis il m'a attendu pendant que je suis partie escalader ces montagnes un peu. Impossible d'y resister!

Et la sensation d'y arriver, de reussir ... et la tristesse que Brel ne soit pas alle jusqu'au bout car le plus beau de tout ce voyage, dans cette petite cabine flottante dans le ciel etait ce qui nous attendait de l'autre cote, une fois sur terre. Et en marchant j'ai vu cette affiche ...

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CHEVAUX A LOUER ...

Et je savais que Brel voudrait faire du cheval. Et je suis donc retournee le chercher. Et je lui ai raconte qu'il y avait de magnifiques chevaux qui l'attendaient a seulement 20 minutes de marche. Et que ce serait un peu difficile (peut etre meme tres difficile) mais qu'il serait tellement heureux d'y arriver. Et puis je n'ai pas du le convaincre trop longtemps, il voulait. Il etait pret. Et donc nous sommes retournes tous les 2, main dans la main, et c'etait tres tres chouette. On y allait molo, tranquillement et le paysage en chemin etait a couper le souffle (litteralement). Tous ces verts, ces montagnes, la fumee, les nuages, la ville qui de la haut paraissait etre une ville miniature ...

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Et nous sommes montes a cheval (tous les 2 cette fois-ci!).

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Et avec notre guide nous sommes alles voir un cratere dans lequel coulait une petite cascade. Trop magique quand meme. Et Brel voulait aller de plus en plus vite et il voulait mener le chemin.

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Et moi qui ai quand meme peur des chevaux...
Et puis Brel et son cheval se sont regardes dans les yeux et se sont caresses par le regard. Tendresse pure.

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Bravo Brel

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et merci de m'avoir accompagne JUSQU'AU CIEL!

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Posted by patsybrel 19:05 Archived in Ecuador Comments (10)

PHOTOS FINALLEMENT/FINALLY!!!

TEXTES DE BREL/TRADUCTION PAR PATSY

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FINALEMENT des preuves qu`on est pas cache dans les toilettes de l`aeroport Trudeau...
FINALLY PROOFS THAT WE ARE NOT HIDING OUT IN TRUDEAU AIRPORT ...

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Neto, mon nouvel ami qui parle francais a Lima
Il m`a prete sa copie de RATATOUILLE

NETO, MY NEW FRIEND IN LIMA. HE SPEAKS FRENCH, A LITTLE BIT.
HE LET ME WATCH HIS COPY OF RATATOUILLE, THE MOVIE.

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CHAN CHAN, la terre de sable. La plus grande ville au monde en adobe .
CHAN CHAN, THE BIGGEST CITY IN THE WORLD IN ADOBE{SAND}.

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Encore CHAN CHAN ... c`EST GRAND!
MORE OF CHAN CHAN. iT`S A BIG PLACE!

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Le premier chien peruvien qu`on a rencontre.
Regardez son poils luxueux... oups pas de poils!

THE FIRST PERUVIAN DOG WE ENCOUNTERED.
CHECK OUT HIS NICE HAIR... NO HAIR ON THESE DOGS!

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Regardez celui=ci, il est ne avec un mohawk!
THIS ONE WAS BORN WITH A MOHAWK. KASIA, THIS ONE`S FOR YOU!!

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Ces bateaux sont incroyables. Ils sont faits tout en sorte de raphia.
THESE INCREDIBLE BOATS ARE THE SPECIALTY HERE. ALL MADE OUT OF A NATURAL FIBER, SOMETHING LIKE RAFFIA.

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Me voici dans un de ces incroyables bateaux de pecheurs.
Je n`nai pas pu resister!

HERE I AM IN ONE OF THESE INCREDIBLE BOATS USED FOR FISHING. I COULDN`T RESIST.

Et ca continue... A suivre.
MORE TO COME. WE ARE SOOO HAPPY TO HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO UPLOAD PHOTOS. WE HAVE MORE THAN 3 WEEKS OF AMAZING TRAVELLING BEHIND US AND LOOOTS OF PHOTOS TO UPLOAD.

TO BE CONTINUED ...

WE MISS YOU ALL!
Patsyta

Oui, je m`ennuie de vous tous!
y quiero encontrarte janeta,abi,chai...
brelito

Posted by patsybrel 18:30 Archived in Ecuador Comments (9)

Final Coast stop in Ecuador (Canoa)...

Et demain nous partons pour Quito

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Desolee pour le retard. I have not been doing my job properly it seems. Just too relaxing among the palm trees, fishermen, blue (although very cloudy) skies, hammocks and wonderful meetings.

Comme entree, un petit resume d'une magnifique semaine a Puerto Lopez. Je vous avais annonce plein d'activites ... baleines, surfing ...
On a quasiment rien fait de tout ca. C'est quand meme ca le voyage. GOING WITH THE FLOW OF THINGS.

C'est que Brel a rencontre un petit bout de bonhomme (6 ans) de Suisse, le fils du patron du petit endroit ou nous dormions, et ils s'amusaient tellement bien tous les 2 que j'ai un peu laisse faire le reste. Et ils se sont baignes, demarre leur petite entreprise (de jus), fait de la moto, peche ... Et tout ca dans le fou rire et entourre de plein d'autres enfants ...and oh my god did his spanish improve!!! Le gars PARLE espagnol maintenant et il arrive a s'exprimer, a expliquer des jeux et meme a raconter des blagues EN ESPAGNOL. La gene du debut a disparu. C'est ca l'immersion! C'est bon, bon, bon.

Et pendant que monsieur courait d'un bout a l'autre de ce petit village, j'ai pu faire une superbe (mais quand meme difficile) randonnee a velo (22 km) sur de petits sentiers de terre. Up and down, up and down ... bump, bump, bump ....
Et j'ai vu plein de trucs car j'ai traverse le parc national MACHALILA. Des vues sur la mer a couper le souffle, des familles (femmes et enfants, on s'entend) en train de laver leur linge, petits lezards (beaucoup, beaucoup) ... Et tout ca lors de mon deuxieme essai car comme vous le savez j'aime les DEALS et puis j'ai d'abord essaye de me rendre au parc avec le velo le moins cher que j'ai trouve dans le village. Mais je suis revenue, une heure plus tard, a pied, les mains noires, le pantalon noir, le visage noir ... et pour un visage pale comme on les appelle parfois, c'etait qqchose... Le velo a decide de rendre son ame tres tres vite et en ma compagnie ...

Et puis j'ai pu discuter avec la maman du petit bout suisse et connaitre son histoire. L'histoire d'une maman seule avec son enfant ... et oui, encore une autre. Et le papa qui vit en Equateur et la maman qui est chilienne mais exile en Suisse et qui se sent dechire car l'enfant est loin du pere ... Et puis c'est partout pareil et puis la SOLIDARITE c'est quand meme beau et ca rassemble et ca aide, et ca fait du bien et ca brise TOUTE SORTES DE FRONTIERES.

Et lorsqu'ils sont repartis en Suisse, on a decide d'enfin lever l'ancre, nous aussi, et de decouvrir une nouvelle plage a quelques 5 heures de route au nord. WELCOME TO CANOA, where the beach is beautiful and with waves (finally). Because even in Peru, we never encountered waves... And so after a delicious breakfast, my first coffee in days, our first session of SCHOOLING (the guy has been bugging me for days to start!!!), a really surprising conversation with a gorgeous old equatorian woman who sold handmade hats and baskets, Brel decided to go wave jumping. I watched and talked and laughed with 2 other travellers we had met on the bus.

After 20 days of travel, the encounters have been a mix of other travellers and locals. I tend to prefer encounters with the locals who in the most part I find fascinating. Fellow travellers are often the people we meet on the buses, the ones we survive grueling bus journeys with and the ones with whom we share the highlights of our travelling experiences with- best places to go, what to eat, where to be extremely careful ... And some we meet again and again along the road. That's always fun, surprising, and most always comforting. It's someone you kind of KNOW already, feels a little like coming home. It's safe. And no one wants to be the only tourist on the bus in these parts ...

La lumiere du jour s'evapore tranquillement, les restos commencent a vibrer et a sortir leurs habits de nuits ... les gens sont sortis, les lumieres s'allument, j'entends de la musique ... ce village m'appelle.

Rendez-vous apres demain a Quito. On quitte la cote, on avance vers les poumons de l'Equateur, tranquillement pas vite... les Andes, les hauteurs, le SOROCHE (mal d'altitude).

Bisous tendres d'un debut de soiree
And hugs wrapped in the sweet smell of night on the coast

Posted by patsybrel 15:45 Archived in Ecuador Comments (8)

A BUSINESSMAN IS BORN!

Un homme d´affaires est ne !

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Hier soir vers 20 heures, heure locale, BRELITO, un jeune homme d´affaires canadien a demarre une petite fabrique de jus. Apres avoir reussi a embarquer quelques acolytes du coin, ils se sont mis a faire trembler quelques arbres, ne fut ce que pour faire tomber des maracuyas, fruit tres populaire de cette region equatorienne.

Ayant demander aux filles de faire le fameux jus, le Brelito en question s´est mis a crier dans un espagnol quasi parfait, JUGO DE MARACUYA ... SOLAMENTE 25 CENTAVOS... Installes sur une petite table a l´entree de notre auberge, les filles etaient pliees en 4 a entendre ce petit blanc crier a tue-tete sont chant de vente.

Ils ont reussi a ramasser 0,95$. Pas mal, car il faut savoir qu´un croissant ou une banane coutent 0,05$ ici. ON aurait dit un vendeur de poisson a la minque* d´Ostende.

(*n. f. XVIe siècle, mincq. Emprunté du flamand (visch)minke, de même sens.Se dit, dans les ports belges, de la halle où l'on vend le poisson à la criée. )
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Parlant de poissons, j´avoue avoir ete vraiment seduite ce matin. C´est que je suis allee me promener sur la plage tres tot, la ou les femmes attendent leur epoux, les pecheurs. Les femmes n´attendent pas sans rien faire, bien entendu, mais elles commencent deja a faire bouillir le riz (et oui dans des gros chaudrons sur la plage)pour qu´une fois le mari revenu, le pauvre poisson aille directement de la mer a la casserole. Talk about fresh! Et puis c´est toute une scene digne du DERNIER REPAS qui s´est deroulee devant mes yeux. De longues tables decorees de belles nappes et des assiettes debordantes de riz, poisson et salsa maison (piments, tomates en petits des) et tout ca a 3 metres de l´eau et a 9 heures du matin. Tu parles d´un dejeuner!

Et puis les bateaux remplis de poissons. Ils les mettent en bacs a la pelle, tellement il y en a. Et puis les pelicans qui dansent autour du bateau, chacun d´eux profitant de sa sortie de scene pour en piquer 1 ou 2, de quoi se regaler.
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Parlant de regale ...
Je me suis litteralement leche les babines hier soir en allant vers le Mercado a la recherche d´avocats (le fruits et non la profession). Je suis tombee sur 2 femmes en train de preparer qqchose que je n´avais jamais vu. La premiere preparait une sorte de pate qu´elle tendait a l´autre qui y inserait une sorte de creme d´arachides (moulues) et un morceau de poisson frais avant de la rouler dans ses mains et la faire tomber dans un bain d´huile tres chaude ... Tout est frit ici (sauf le ceviche). UN vrai delice. Et puis une bonne empanada au fromage (toute fraiche) pour terminer le tout. Et ces 2 delices pour un total de 0,50$. Comment est-ce possible? Et elles m´ont servie avec un sourire aux levres. D´accord, j´avoue qu´il y avait plein de monde qui attendait pour voir si la TURISTA allait aimer. DELICIOSO j´ai exclame. Tout le monde a ri.
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Parlant d´$ maintenant. For those curious and or interested.
In september 2000, the amercian $ became the official currency in Ecuador. The bills are the same as in the USA but the coins are Ecuadorian centavos. The first time, I received some, I was shocked by the size of the $0.50 coin. It´s huge. Bigger than a canadian toonie. How can that be. It must be expensif to make so why make it so big? And after a few days here, I think I understand. I´m sure that the 0.50$ coin is the most used. There are so many things that cost a lot less than $0.50 and so it is easy to find in one´s pocket or wallet. Who knows. I´ll keep on my investigation. Interesting though.

In Peru, there are 2 currencies used simultaneously. The US $ and the Nuevo Sol (which you divide by 3 to get the US dollar equivalent). And from the US $ equivalent we must convert once more to get the Canadian amount. Makes for a lot of math operations. Excellent for Brel.

One last thing, back to the MUSICA which really fascinates me in this part fo the world because, like in Mexico, it is everywhere and always on, most often BLASTING. I think it´s part of the family, another person (but NOT another mouth to feed). It fills the holes. Meuble le vide. La musique est la structure de tout, Meme quand la maison est en carton, il y a de la musique. La musique ajoute de la vie, de la lumiere, du comfort.

" by turning the volume up on his radio, the mexican makes a bungalow of his boxcar and pretends it is home". Taken from a book I´m reading about a travel writer who stepped out of his house in Boston and got on a train to see how far he could go. he ended up crossing the Americas ... all the way to Patagonia (with some parts by airplane).

Aside from all this, I have to tell you that there is nothing like walking along the beach, alone and in total silence with just the sounds of the waves, the wind and the birds ... while Brel the businessman is in a sales meeting or on a horse.

Besitos de sal

Posted by patsybrel 14:29 Archived in Ecuador Comments (9)

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