Ecuador - in a bit of a rush

Dear blog readers – we arrived in Cartagena / Colombia! Time is flying so fast on these last few milestones of our epic trip that I hardly have time to write up all that happens. But before I tell you all about Colombia (I am still processing the images), I want to write about our trip in Ecuador. To be honest we did a bit of a fly by so to say with Ecuador. I am sure we could spend easily 2 months in this beautiful country but unfortunately we are running out of time. We entered Ecuador on the Pacific coast and found ourselves in one of the biggest banana producing areas of the world. The banana plantations went on for miles and miles. As a matter of fact when we stopped for some refreshments and I asked how much it is for a few bananas, the lady at the shop just laughed and told me to help myself to as many as I want – they come for free. Now more then 99% of the bananas are grown for export and are packed in boxes when they are still green. Those are the ones you find in your local supermarket (by then ripened and yellow). The ones for the locals how ever are much smaller and way tastier. They actually ripe on the tree and the taste is much sweeter with a hint of zesty lemon.  After leaving the bananas we climbed up to altitude again and through some rather sketchy roads (due to landslides) we reached the motorway to Quito – the capital of Ecuador. Driving in Ecuador was, after our experience in Peru, really relaxing. People are very civilized when behind the wheel and the roads are made of asphalt that puts some German Autobahns to shame. Everything seems to run very smooth and the fact that the Ecuadorians chose to use the US$ for their main currency in September 2000 makes it even easier for lots of travellers. The reason behind choosing the US$ was an overgrowing inflation that started to spin out of control. Quito today is a modern city with a lively restaurant and bar scene. We needed to stay in Quito a little bit longer than initially planned to obtain a Colombian visa for Siri. Just to “kill off” some time we decided to spend a weekend in Mindo Valley in the middle of the rainforest. Dropping from nearly 3,000m altitude down to 1,000m changed the climate drastically. While we were in Quito it could get cold during the night and on an excursion to a volcanic crater on 4,000m it got really cold – even during the day. In Mindo we found ourselves in a tropical rainforest – hot and humid and this is just 100Km away from Quito. The area around Mindo is a bird watchers paradise and even though I am not an ornithologist I saw some pretty colorful birds like Toucan and other tropical birds. I just wish I could name a few more of those but – sorry I can’t. So after a weekend in the rainforest, some hikes around and refreshing dips in rather cool jungle swimming pools we returned to Quito and got the Visa sorted. Now nothing was in our way anymore to get to Colombia – the last country on our journey. One thing for sure though – we will be back in Ecuador soon – last not least to see the Galapagos islands.

The next update will follow soon – stay tuned.