Ecuador, South America
Jatuncocha, Parque Nacional Yasuní
The next morning it was raining again so we had breakfast at the hotel. Tor and I had to depart from Paola, Brock, and Brett at this point. They would continue on their travels in Ecuador down to the southern tip. Tor and I had to head back to Quito to catch our flight back.
We said our goodbyes at the Coca airport. Our flight was delayed (again) so we didn’t get into Quito until around 1PM. We checked into La Casa Sol, which was a nice enough hotel cute with a lot of charm. In Quito, we wandered around, the Marsical District, new town, or what we called Gringoville. A lot of it was cleaned up and redone to accommodate the tourists. There were also a lot of police in bulletproof vest on almost every street perhaps to help keep crime down, though I’ve read that crime was worse in the new town area.
Wandering around Quito, we found a big store that was a combination clothes/food/decorations/stuff/etc store, so we could stock up on Noggy, Plops (candy) and Avena Oatmeal Drink, things that Paola introduced us to.
We also walked to the Mercado near the Marsical District. It was fun looking at what trinkets and clothes they were selling. We picked up some souvenirs and gifts to take home. There were also a lot of little girls begging for money they’d basically stand in front of you or keep themselves in front of you, hold up their hand, and without looking at you repeatedly ask for money.
For dinner, we went to a restaurant near our hotel that served “Ecuadorian” food. It was okay, but not nearly as good as the $2 meals at Pañacocha or our meals while camping. We tried the Kuy or guinea pig. I didn’t like it it was super greasy meat with a weird after taste. At least I tried something new. And we got to have juice with our meal.
We had one full day in Quito, so we decided to walk to old town and check out the churches. It was a nice enough walk through town without many people out during the morning. Once we reached the San Augustin church, the crowds of people seemed to show up. There was a steady stream of people we tried to figure out what they were doing whether it was coming out of church, taking a Sunday walk, or doing some Christmas shopping, there were a lot of people in the streets. There were many shows (of some entertaining variety) going on at most of the plazas.
We walked around old town going to the Plaza Grande and Plaza San Francisco eventually making our way toward the Panecillo. I had read about the Panecillo, which was a large Virgin Mary statue on top of a hill that provided a good lookout over all of Quito. I read that walking up the hill was a bad idea since people would try to take advantage of any tourist as they panted and climbed their way to the top. However, Tor wasn’t convinced when I told him and wanted to walk it anyway.
As we walked up the first steps to the Panecillo, we saw a small girl scooting on her butt down the sloped sidewalk. When she saw us, she got up and told us not to walk up the hill, pointing to Tor’s camera; instead she told us to take a taxi or a bus. This was enough to change Tor’s mind, so after waving down a taxi, we get up to the top of the Panecillo.
At the Panecillo, we can see over the city and a few of the mountains that are not covered by the clouds. I could imagine it’s quite spectacular on a clear day. Still we enjoy the view. There were a few vendors set up on top of the hill, several people dressed up for the tourists: couple of people dressed as Santa, one dressed as Barney (the purple dinosaur), and a couple of dressed up Alpacas. On a stage, there was another show of some sort going on.
We decided to walk back down from the hill (I’ve read it’s better than walking up, since you won’t be tired), but we waited for an Ecuadorian woman with five kids to follow behind as our “cover.” The stairs and path wandered through some questionable areas and behind houses. A group of men were sitting where the stairs cross a street; we stuck close to the kids until they break away to play on a playground. But we were close enough and made it safely down to the streets.
Back on the streets, we made our way to the Basilica a church that a lot of people deem ugly. First we stopped at an Ecuadorian restaurant chain called Ceviche, where the ceviche was disappointedly bad, but at least we both got guanábana juice with our meal.
We continued to the Basilica, which was interesting to say the least there were many gargoyles, but not of the typical nature. There were gargoyles of alpacas, iguanas, boobies, peacocks, sheep, etc., a large menagerie of animals. I could see why people don’t like it one part of the church was built in the true gothic style, with real gargoyles and real stone, but the majority of it was built out of concrete and weird animals.
Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped in a park and browsed through the vendors and artists that were set up. One of the things I liked about Quito was the many stores that were crammed into the first level of buildings they looked like they should be garages, but it was an entire grocery, shoe, clothes store or restaurant.
For our second night in Quito, we had to switch hotels since the Casa Sol didn’t have room for us. They sent us across the street to the Jardin del Sol, which was an adequate hostel, though didn’t have any charm or character.
We had dinner at another restaurant down the street called Boca del Lobo (Mouth of the Wolf) and had good-enough food.
Our travel day back was long and tiring. Luckily all our flights were on time. There was plenty of time to reflect on the trip and think about our next venture to Ecuador.
G = Guayaquil airport
C = Coca
N = Rio Napo: river, lowland rainforest
P = Pañacocha: lowland rainforest
NR = Nuevo Rocafuerte: small town surrounded by rainforest
J = Jatuncocha, Parque Nacional Yasuní: lagoon, lowland rainforest
Y = Parque Nacional Yasuní
C = Rio Aguarico, Rio Cocaya: cursed flooded lowland rainforest
L = Lagartococha, Ecuador/Peru: lagoons, lowland rainforest
Q = Quito: big city, parks
La Casa Sol, hostel in Quito, quaint, charming, located in New Town
Hostal Jardin del Sol, hostel in Quito, sufficent, located in New Town
Amazonas Hosteria, hostel in Coca, sufficent, cheap
Pañacocha, a small river that feeds into the Rio Napo
Jatuncocha, the largest lake in the Parque Nacional Yasuní
Rio Cocaya, a small river that feeds into the Rio Aguarico
Lagartococha, river that feeds into the Rio Aguarico
There's not a lot of offical (or unoffical) information on the internet about these place that we've traveled to.
These pages are dedicated to Brock, Brett, and of course Paola. Without them, this trip would literally be impossible. We are forever thankful for this opportunity of a life time.