Ecuador · 49 Days · 80 Moments · September 2014

Alastair Keith

Alastair's trip to Ecuador

9 November 2014

I went snorkeling in the bay off the boat docks 1km East of town with Judith, Guido, Ray (NZ) and the Australian. It was incredible! We went straight from the docks and saw everything from Spotted eagle rays, grey sting rays, star fish, green sea urchins, 3 sea turtles (one huge one! And one small brown one), 3 sea lions (one that I thought was a person and I put my head back under water only to see his face not but 10 inches I front of mine before he verde away), and the BEST was 3 penguins that swam past me! The currents were strong! So swimming was hard, but it was good. Then we went to get a late lunch of tomatoes, cheese, and crackers to eat on the beach. So great!
Had a great birthday celebration on the beach with beer and a fire! Say around speaking Spanish with Judith (German) Guido (Argentinian) a Mexican and an Ecuadorian! We even played pictionary in the sand! Now that's my kind of shindig!

5 November 2014

Snorkel, hike, hike

4 November 2014

Later on we got cleaned up and went for a hike on Isla Lobaria where we saw many animals and birds! Including my favorite! A male blue footed boobie nesting! After we returned to the boat for dinner. Then we shared rum and coke and talked the night away!
We said goodbye to Greg and Fiona, and Saun and sad! This morning we went to the Galàpagos National Park Interpretation Center on San Cristobal. It was informative and well done, just a lot of what we have already learned from our guide. (But at least now I know the spelling, haha!) Then I walked out onto the point where the HMS Beagle landed, with Simon and Hazel from NZ. The water was crystal blue and we could see the bottom all the way from the overlook, including sea lions swimming under the surface! We hung out in town for a bit, watching sea lions play in the water in front of the rat aiming wall of the Main Street, and even saw them lying under cars, on park benches, and in the kids slide! Then we returned to the boat for lunch. Afterwards we went snorkeling. I swam with a Sea Turtle! And we saw marine iguanas feeding on algae! UNDERWATER!!! We also saw tons of fish!

1 November 2014

Last night the boat anchored in the Harbor of Porto Aroyo. This morning we went to the Tortoise breeding center on Isla Santa Cruz. We were able to see GIANT TORTOISES!!! (But in captivity) It was a good idea to go here first before our excursion this afternoon to the highlands to search for them. I wandered around town and got myself a delicious strawberry milkshake! Then sent an e-mail to my parents. After receiving the Korean honeymooners we had lunch on the boat. Then went to find Giant Tortoises!

30 October 2014

My host at the Hostal just tried to school me about taxi drivers and never relying on them to pick you up...I just stood there wide eyed nodding my head thinking WTF? This is so not true! ...then my taxi driver didn't show

29 October 2014

TGIF! (on Wednesday...)
The copycat of Sunglass Hut. Haha!
Carrot Cake!!! (With a South American Twist: covered in melted manjar)
Best breakfast included with my bed at a Hostal EVER! French Toast with Strawberries, bananas, fresh juice and coffee! Yumm, yumm, yumm!

28 October 2014

Today I talked with Andrea at the front desk of the Hostal about cruises in the Galápagos. She helped me find a boat that fit my time frame and budget. There were three boats with availability within the next week, I picked the Floreana that leaves the day after tomorrow! It's awesome! Now I am getting a chicken burrito for dinner before going the movies! (Only Friends w/ Daniel Radcliffe) It's a good day. I even got to Skype with my Mom and Dad!
10/28: While in the Amazon we searched for the Tapir, but I did not know what it looked like, or what it was. And as we searched and discovered tracks and holes in the ground, and my guide told me how it could swim, I created an image in my mind of an amphibious, webbed-footed mammal, with a long snout that was very camouflaged. Haha! I was a little off...

27 October 2014

10/27: Double decker bus tour of Guyaquil. Getting to know the city. Complete with music from Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Titanic!!! Haha!

26 October 2014

10/26: How many Ecuadorian's does it take to change a tire? Apparently 7 men.
10/26: 15 hours from Coca to Guayaquil! From the Amazon, over the Andes to the Coast!!! It's going to be a long night!
10/26: Took a walk in the jungle behind the lodge this morning. Came across tons of beautiful mushrooms and fungus! My favorite little frogs that look like leaves! Millipedes, and vins that local people use to tie their thatched roofs on their houses. And lemon ants that live inside pockets on the branches of an acidic tree that prevents other trees and plants from growing near it! And according to my guide they actually taste like lemon...I wouldn't know. As we were walking I saw a white mushroom, and thought, oh, we are back in the same place. "We made a circle!" And my native guide Jonas laughed!!! ...yes, we had made a circle, in the jungle.
10/26: It's a rainy day! I have been blessed with such lovely weather: sunny every day! It poured last night and a huge thunder and lightening storm moved through (fast) with one strike that shook the whole lodge. It is raining now, but not enough to keep me out of the jungle! Gregory, Jonás, and I are headed out on a hike.

25 October 2014

10/25: A wonderful meal for my last night in the Jungle.
10/25: Canoeing at Sunset in search of caymans.
10/25: Today I went to a parrot clay lick and saw tons of parrots (Yellow Crown, Blue Headed, Mealy Amazon, and Dusky Headed), a Red-caped Cardinal, and Howler Monkeys. Then I hiked for 4 hours in the rainforest of Yasuni National Park. We searched for the Tapir but were unsuccessful. We saw... And afterwards we went to the Sani community where I got a tour and saw the banana trees, yucca plants that they are able to grow from cuttings, papaya, white cacao, palm trees, and a few others. One of the palm trees is the one that they let the Beatles lay there eggs in to harvest the grubs. I saw the school and the pond where they hatch and foster turtles and then release them back in the river. Then we had lunch before I bought some jewelry made from the seeds of local trees, including these beautiful red and black Anamora seeds!
10/25: Mi canoe con mi carona! (My canoe with my crown) on my way back to Sani Lodge after hiking in the rainforest and visiting the Sani community. I feasted on a local dish of fish, plantains, yucca, and yes: grubs! Then my guide made me a crown. : )
10/25: It just hit me. I am boating down the Rio Napo in the Amazon Rainforest! This is unreal! What an incredible life I lead!
10/25: Being canoed down the river to go hiking. It's so hard! All I want to do is PADDLE!!!

24 October 2014

10/24: Beautiful orange sunset tonight! We walked back as night fell over the jungle floor. After dinner we took a canoe over to the side of the property. We saw caymans in the river, their brilliant orange eyes catching the light of our flashlights. We saw millipedes, scorpion spiders, an my favorite: The LEAFCUTTER ANTS!!! And HUGE grasshoppers! Spiders that bite very hard...but are supposedly not poisenous, a stick bug, an adorable little marsupial, and a tarantula!
10/24: Afternoon: Took at 2.5 hour hike through the Jungle. We searched for a Tapir, but only found tracks. However! We witnessed an uproar of Howler Monkeys and Macaws!!! It was incredible! The air shook and the trees trembled with sound waves! We also saw frogs that look like leaves, huge fungus, termite mounds on trees, and tapir tracks. I put my hand on the termite mound, in the swarm of termites, so that they would crawl on my hand. Then I rubbed my hands together, squishing them to create bug repellant, used by the Sani people.
10/24: The inquisitive bird that hung out under our table at lunch and then followed us to the sitting area. He pecked at my feet, shoes, backpack, and phone!
10/24: In the tree stand! 40 meters up in the canopy! We took a canoe for 30 minutes down the river and then hiked into the jungle for an hour, discovering frogs that were so well adapted to their environment that they were practically invisible, crazy fungus orbs like hollow orange soccer balls, tons of mushrooms, kingfishers, an owl, spiders, leaf cutter ant hills, a monkey skull, caterpillars, a lizard, flycatchers, millipedes, anteater tracks, herons, hoaxins, parrots, macaws, bats (yes, in daylight!), and a cayman! And it's only the morning!!!

23 October 2014

10/23: Boat trip up the Rio Napa!
My life is just one crazy adventure! Turns out there was not a bus that could get me to catch my tour yesterday. I missed it, stayed in Coca last night. Am going to catch the boat now. On the upside, I will have a VIP day at the lodge with the Sani people after everyone else leaves.

22 October 2014

Fish, plantain, and casava root cooked in a banana leaf! Yumm!

21 October 2014

Relaxed in the hammock this afternoon and then waterproofed my belongings and packed enough Gatorade to stave off the heat exhaustion. Ready to Jungle!!!

20 October 2014

Today was uneventful, but it had to be done. I spent the afternoon researching different Amazonian lodges and just making my head hurt. There are so many choices and I am sure all of them would be a pretty awesome experience...but it's so hard to pick one!!! I then wandered around town trying to find a mercado (turns out I was in the wrong spot) and then got dinner at an open air restaurant on the Main Street that I saw a few expats at earlier today. Had a sandwich de pollo. Then returned to the Hostal to chill before a busy day tomorrow. It is nice and cool this evening which is really pleasant.
Desayuno Delicioso! With my German and Brazilian friends at Café Tortuga on the Rio Tena. Muesli and Jugo de Mora (Blackberry Juice)...yumm!

19 October 2014

It's POURING RAIN !!! I fully understand the term rainforest now. Welcome to the Amazon! : )
Café Hood, Baños. Missing you Sheldon, Brian, ....
Back in Baños! Excited to stop over for lunch and go to Cafe Hood! Will then head off again for Tena, the entrance to the Ecuadorean Amazon!
I played an awesome game of making faces, and pretending to ignore this boy for about 20 minutes. He kept walking up and down the isle of the bus making surprise appearances from around the front of the seat only to return again 7 seconds later.

18 October 2014

Sign on the bus to El Tambo. Sanctuary Basilica Queen of the Swans. Here are Catholics. Please respect our faith.

17 October 2014

The three course feast I treated myself to after I returned safely from my adventure in the Andes. Delicious!!!
Visited the ruins at Incapirca today! I loved exploring the pathways and imagining a thriving civilization. (And interpreting the Spanish guides tours was fun too!) Incapirca is the most complete Incan site in Ecuador.
From what Manuel said it sounded like I would take the first left and walk no more than about 30 minutes before I would meet the car. I was exstatic! I made it to the left turn (2.5 k from laguna Cullulibras) there was no car so I continued on. I walked for another 2 k passed houses closed up against the cold and no sign of anyone. Motorbike... Dark... Truck...auyudarme! And whistle! Moments of hopelessness...! Quickly found materials (A few planks if wood and some rocks) and made a shelter (layer out everything I had from my pack, stuff sacks with clothes inside, books and magazines, and shoes to insulate me from the cement porch. I took stock of my food and water and changed into dry clothes. Put socks on and wrapped my feet in a wool t-shirt. Got inside my silk sleep sheet and ......Then attempted to insulate my feet from the cold with my trekking shirt No sleep!!! Water trickle... Lucky the wind was blowing the other way! Orange glow of lights of city in clouds.
10/16: Manuel got my belongings from the donkey. I almost forgot my alpaca blanket in the sleeping bag. I packed my bag & then I crossed the river on horseback, returned the horse to Manuel so he could do the same. Then Manuel had me ride the horse to the ??? Where he was going to call for a car. Along the way he pointed to a building that looked like a green house & said I could sleep there & hike out in the morning. I blew up. I said F*** so many times I forgot. And for the first time that day, I cried. I paid $200 for this! I had no food, only a half liter of water, and no sleeping bag! I wouldn't last the night! I think he got the point & took me across the bridge & up to ??? Where he then spent the better half of an hour trying to call a car for me. I appreciated his help knowing that he still had to go back that night. He told me where to walk to meet the car, I asked him again to make sure I understood. I gave him my lunch & then walked out to meet the carro blanko.
10/16: I wasn't going to has any of that with out at least looking at it. So that it what I told him and I continued walking. We followed a river down the rocky trail and I avoided it by picking my way through the vegetated islands and thick grasses that caught up my feet. When we reached the bottom I was still so cold I could not imagine going back over the pass without loosing fingers. So I being my stubborn self searched for a cruzar. I knew it could be done, having taught river crossing techniques, but Manuel would have none of it and told me that if the water was more than 12 inches deep that it would sweep away the horse and donkey - accidente! The language barrier was killing me! I was so frustrated! I didn't know what to do. So I sat on my own for a bit before returning to try and talk to Manuel again. He decided it was ok to cross with the horse and that he would then come back to get the donkey and go home. And I thought I understood all the rest...but I guess I didn't...
My hot welcome drink! For the first time in three days I am too warm!!! Yay!
The truck that saved me! As it turns out, last night I slept on the porch of a building owned by a Quechuan couple. A todo los dias (everyday) they drive up 15 - 20 kilometers up the mountain from Cañar to milk their vacas (cows). They pulled up just as I was packing & the man had to move my barricade I had put up in the entrance to the porch to get inside. I apologized for sleeping there. He asked me what I was doing & I told him (as best I could) that I had hiked from ??? Last night only to arrive here at nightfall. A surprised look crossed over his face & he said "??? Is 10 kilometers from here!" I said "Yo Conozco" (I know). : ) I said I was trying I get to la ciudad (the city) I had no idea which city had illuminated the clouds all night long. He said he could take me but that he needed to milk his vacas first. "No problemo!" After about 45 min, & a beautiful Quechuan woman that came up to shake my hand & say Buenos Dias, we set off, me squished in the middle.
10/16: been carved out over milenia by footsteps. Hence the inca trail I imagine. : ) We reached a pass with a huge cairn which I ceremoniously added a stone to before continuing on. I thought that we would go down, as it was a pass, but we continued to go up and up and up. And it became colder. The socks on my hands stopped halting to abate the cold. Then finally we came to a distinctive pass, a lunar scape in hues of orange, yellow, red and brown and barren of all but the most hardy of low lying vegetation. Needless to say, I found these hardy plants decorated with water droplets from the passing fog fascinating and even though I was so cold and miserable I stopped to admire them and attempt to capture their beauty before hurrying on. I caught up to Manuel and we descended back amongst my favorite vegetated islands and into a slightly less frigid atmosphere. Far down below I could see a river. Manuel told me it was impassable and we had to go back.
10/16: I survived! That pretty much sums it up. It all started this morning when we set out for our second day at 9:00. After i had two pieces of stale bread and chamomile tea for breakfast. It rained all night and all of yesterday since we lost sight of Achupallas. Of course everything was soaked, but I had managed to stay dry. My boots however did not fair as well. I had pit them outside to hold down the fly thinking that they would stay dry, atleast on the inside and keep the tent dry at the same time. Nope, the foggy rain had seeped in and thoroughly soaked them. I dried them out as best I could and then wrapped my feet in plastic bags to at least keep my socks and feet dry. (I am sure glad I did that!) We walked up the west side of the valley and then contoured around the mountainside in the fog to the west. We walked like this for quite some time through muddy stream Kaiden trails, jumping from one vegetated life raft to another, and up stone staircases that seemed to have

15 October 2014

I am not sure what altitude we are at, but I think we climbed about 300 meters from Achupallas today. We hiked for 4 hours on muddy trails. And when I say "we" I mean myself, my guide Manuel, the donkey whose name I forgot, an the horse that has no name. The donkey is carrying the supplies and the horse is for "emergencies". They wanted me to ride it out of town, I said NO WAY! I did not come all this way, and stay in bed all day yesterday trying to get better to ride a horse! (I walked the whole Manuel's dismay I think). I did give my pack to the horse to carry - quite a big step. I am sleeping kitty corner in this too-short-for-a-westerner two-man tent with two flies that were meant for another (larger) tent finagled over the top to create a feeling of waterproofness. Oh, and one has a whole on the right side of the door and the one underneath has a broken zipper - that is also where the weather is coming in from. ; ) Needless to say this first day has been an adventure!
Tonight, after arriving at camp, I made my own sleeping bag. It's pretty sweet! They gave me a slumber bag and two blankets (one fleece, and one with the texture of a heavy dish towl). I napped for a bit with the two blankets layered inside the sleeping bag hotdog style....but was still pretty chilly and it was only the afternoon. So, I got my alpaca blanket that I purchased in Salinas and my silk sleep sheet (which has a mummy cut). I proceeded to layer the alpaca blanket on the inside of the hotdog and then stuffed the whole thing inside my sleep sheet. Essentially making a sleeping bag. I also stuffed extra clothes inside, put an alpaca sweater at my feet and got a hot water bottle from my guide Manuel...and I am still struggling to keep warm. I sure am glad we didn't go any higher!

14 October 2014

I spent all day in bed feeling really crummy. I only got up for brunch at noon and dinner at about 7:30. The room was so cold! These cement walls really don't work well in this climate. I may be in Ecuador, but in Achupallas it is not warm. I was supposed to start trekking today, but was unable to do so, I am hoping I get well enough by tomorrow to go.

13 October 2014

Alausi... Hotel only me and one other person. Not very busy. Bank saw Andres and his cousin... Breakfast and lunch... Crazy lady! And her husband! Car ride for $12

12 October 2014

Salinas! Cheese, chocolate, shop, salt formation,! Carlos who wants to come to CO and Alaska.

10 October 2014

Bus ride to Gauranda, smelled like cat food. Saw snow as we passed the entrance to Chimborazo. Arrived in Salinas at 6:00pm. I was able to walk straight to my hotel thanks to the map that Brian messages me. Thanks! I arrived and opted for a private room for $14 instead of the cramped and blanket lacking dorm room. I was exploring the property and I turned around to find Liz! Crazy! So we went to get ingredients for dinner and then we cooked on her porch on her stove and made a delicious quinoa, egg, an vegetable dish. It was wonderful to have company and to enjoy the delicious meal.
Talking to me about how I had paid $7 dollars to come here & had not gotten my money back. I said oh well & caught a taxi to take me to the bus terminal. The driver took me to a place in the middle of town called the "station" & after arguing with him for a few minutes finally dropped me off at the correct terminal. Thy had told me to take a bus to Tulcan, which is near Columbia in the north...but I realized that I did not want to go there. So I asked three people & finally was directed to the proper counter. But I had to wait until 3:00 to leave. While I was waiting a couple from the states came walking through the terminal. The girl had the same pal as me. We simultaneously said "nice pack". Soon after they asked if they could sit near me an we began talking. They had just climbed Cotapaxi and Chimborazo & the girl is going to be working for ski patrol this winter at Steamboat. They are headed to Guayaquil and the Galapagos. snk $1.25 We swapped info & I left to catch my bus $2.10
By 11:10 I was in Ambato. I took a 5 minute taxi ride for $2.00 to the station and tried to get a bus to Salinas, only have everyone tell me that I had to go to Guayaquil in order to get to Salinas. So I got a ticket for $0.70 and two guys in the station rushed me to my bus that left just after I boarded. On the bus I had to pay $7.00 for a ticket! I figured that might happen. But that means I won't be in Guayaquil until this evening and I will be quite late getting to salinas...or won't make it until tomorrow...uh oh. Haha! So...when I was in Ambato they thought I was talking about the Salinas that is near Guayaquil on the coast. I had forgotten about the "two salinas'". So, as we were entering Riobamba I had the realization that I was on my way there instead. I asked the guy to stop in Riobamba for me...and the guy in front o me who spoke English helped me out by talking with the driver. They stopped on the side of the road and I hopped off. The other guy who got off was talking
At 9:40 I left Erupciòn for the bus station. I walked the hallway searching for a bus company to take me to where I want to go (Ambato) and when I asked the women she said, you pay on the bus as she pointed it was pulling away! So I ran to the bus and said "Ambato?!" And jumped on with the nod of the driver's head. The bus pulled out SLOWLY, the driver continuing to shout, Ambato?!. And by 9:55 I was on my way! (The bus fare was $1)
We then enjoyed our late lunch with a view, before lining up for the swing. The line was very long for a time due to all of the Ecuadorean tourists who had driven up or taken a taxi and wanted to swing. It was awesome!!!! I just laughed! Stomach ache No taxi...Bus...$1 Luke had been calling her Pedro Magnifico! We all laughed!!! Hot springs! HOT!!! Dinner, Brian's treat! ravines, enshrouded in dim light due to the thick trees on either side. We crossed the road a few times before arriving at the town of ???? Where we took a road one direction before trying it the other way and realizing we were then on the right track. Then we walked the road which had now turned to cobblestones for 3.5 kilometers. We stopped for some snacks near a farm with greenhouses made with plastic sheets and wood frames before continuing on. We met an older man with few teeth who energetically greatest us and shook our hands with a grin and told us we had 10 minutes left. We saw multiple signs denoting mileage along the way but we soon realized how inaccurate they were. We then saw a sign denoting 200 metros, and we were really almost there. We climbed up from the road and found ourselves at the Mirador Volcan and the Casa del Arbol! We had made it! Whew!

9 October 2014

Today I enjoyed Desayuno with Rai, Sherman, Sam, and Luke (from England) before Rai left. Then Sam and Luke and I went hiking. But before we could go we had to find a panaderia (shop that sells bread). We looked and looked but couldn't find one and finally had to go back to the Hostal to ask. We got rolls for $0.25 each and then went on our way. As we exited town we found an archway marking the entrance to the trail. We began walking and were soon joined by a black dog with a curly mess of hair. It looked well taken care of and we named it the sexually ambiguous Perro Magnifico! (Magnificent Dog!)...then we later realized it was a she and kept the name... We gained a lot of elevation quite quickly and the trail just kept on climbing! The vegetation was thick and jungle like and the trails were uneven and muddy, with quite a bit of debris. After stopping at Sendero Bellavista a bit we walked on rough, slippery trails in...
El signo de baños en l'hostal Erupciòn. Jajajaja!

8 October 2014

Yesterday I bought some traditional local sweets (melcocha), wandered around town, watched the women shuck sugar cane stalks and men make melcocha, people watched and took pictures, went to the cathedral and sat in the back listening to the service in Spanish and Latin, rested for a while since I wasn't feeling well, had lunch of tabouli and hummus with pitas with carrot, beet juice at Casa Hood, hung out at the hostel and then went for dinner at Casa Good (the copy cat place of Casa Hood opened by his ex-wife).
Melcocha Melcocha is the famous, typical candy of Baños. It is also known as Alfondoque. The men stretch the candy and then throw it over the wooden peg in the doorway of their shop, and then stretch it again. Baños is also famous for the sugar cane which is the base of melcocha. It is possible to buy sugar cane in its original form as well. For the production of Melcocha the juice of the sugar cane cooked and then kneaded. When the juice begins to boil vegetable slime of the Guacimo Tree is added because it helps the solution bind. The juice has to cook until it becomes a viscous syrup. The syrup is spilled on a clean and watery plate and almonds and nuts are added. After this a chunk is formed and the hard work begins. The syrup has to be cooled down. For that the chunk is put on a crook in the wall and then it is doffed and kneaded until the mass becomes hard and can be broken very easily. The Melcocha is ready to be eaten.
It's a rainy morning in Baños. The fog hangs on the mountainsides, our own mountainous Truman Show. Our smorgasbord Desayuno just keeps coming and the company is pleasant.

7 October 2014

Headed south to Baños! Ciao Quito!

5 October 2014

This morning I worked for 9 hours at reception. Then I made fish tacos and fresh poco de gallo with Sherwin (from the Philippines) and Brian (from Alaska). We are going to enjoy our fresh fish tacos with corn tortillas, fish, cabbage, pick de gallo, pineapple, carrots, parsley, and onions. Later we are going to watch Finding Nemo!

3 October 2014

La Burguesa! The waiters here are laughing at my Spanish! But atleast I am trying!!!
For the last week I have been working at BoutiQuito (the Hostal) in the morning, then going to Spanish class all afternoon before returning to the Hostal, sometimes even working some more before going to sleep so I can start it all over again. So, possibly understandably so, I have not been good at writing any of my experience down. I am exhausted. I had my final Spanish class this afternoon and my profesora told me I was a bueno estudiante and I had progressed quite a lot in a week! It was the icing on the cake! I am celebrating this evening at a hamburger joint down the street (where they have a vegetarian burger) that people who have stayed at BoutiQuito have raved about. After I will go back to work at reception. Sigh.

28 September 2014

9/28 It's raining... I slept in, reveled in the comfort of being indoors, for a late lunch I got a sandwich from down the street and then crashed in the movie room downstairs and watched The Rum Diaries, with Johnny Depp (I wasn't that impressed). Then for dinner Alex and I went to get pizza. While at dinner we decided that we should watch The Fault in Our Stars. So we went to the video store across the street and bought a copy for $2.50. We went back to the hostel to watch it, and Nina joined us. Super Bien!

26 September 2014

This afternoon I had my second Spanish class! It was awesome! Now I get two days off before I am back at it on Monday. Today was a milestone. It was my first day on this trip that I spoke to everyone outside of the hostel in Spanish! (Except for paying for my Spanish lessons at the maybe not quite yet???) I am going to work at the hostel for room and breakfast next week. It is perfect, I can stay for free in Quito, practice Spanish, and get more local tips on Ecuador.

25 September 2014

This afternoon I had my first Spanish lesson. I spoke and listened to Spanish for 4 hours. My mind is so tired now, I just want to sleep! The lessons are one-on-one which is wonderful! This was my homework for tonight. I had to write a bit using the words I learned today. After I finished, Laura from Spain helped me edit my work. I guess I didn't do so bad. : ) Translation: My name is Alastair and my last name is Keith. I am from the United States, I work at American Explorers in Montana, I live in Avon, CO. I am 26 years old. I am traveling in Ecuador for 2 months. First I will visit the Andes and learn Spanish. Later I will travel to the Amazon, the beach, and the Galapagos. After I will return to Quito and finish my vacation. Finally I will return to the United States on November 20th. Tonight I ate dinner in Mariscal. After I returned to BoutiQuito in Guapulo. I am very tired so I am writing and studying before going to sleep.
Today I tagged along with three guys from Maine to Cruz Loma. We took the Teleferico (gondola) up from 9,350 ft to 13,000 ft. I could really feel the altitude! The view of Quito was stunning! I could even see Cotapaxi towering above the mountains in the distance, the summit enshrouded in clouds.

24 September 2014

It's Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and I have the amazing opportunity to spend it with Jessica, Zack, and Noam from Isreal! We went shopping at the Mercado and are now making a typical Rosh Hashanah meal: fish, passion fruit (in the place of pomegranates), and apples with honey. The fish is so that you will be headstrong in the new year and not let people flap you around like the tail. The pomegranates are so that you will have the same number of good times in the new year as there are seeds. The apples and honey are so that you will have sweetness.
...and 19 hours later, this bed is really inviting!
Esta aqui! I arrived safe and sound in Quito, Ecuador! My rusty Spanish got me a bus ride on Aero Servicios to the old airport where I will get a taxi to take me to my hostel "BoutiQuito" where I can finally sleep. : )

23 September 2014

Been on the go since 5:30 this morning. My first connection the flight was delayed for over an hour because another plane was having mechanical issues at the gate and had to be moved. We ended up boarding at another gate. We arrived in Houston with 8 minutes before my next flight was to leave the gate...and I was in the back of the plane! The plane that was to take me to Ecuador was at the next gate over, which was torturous. I was watching it, just waiting for it to leave without me! I disembarked and ran to the gate, making it!!!! The only really big downside throughout all this was that I was getting hungrier by the hour and my connections weren't giving me any time to eat. Finally at 7:30 they came around with food for purchase (which is total crap on an international flight from 5:30 - 10:50!) and I caved...$9 for tapas in little plastic wrappers! At least there were some dark chocolate pomegranate nibs for desert.
In the words of my grandfather, I'm off like a dirty shirt! Thanks so much Courtney for dropping me off early this morning.

22 September 2014

Relaxed and carefree I departed Avon, Colorado this morning. I only looked back to admire the beautiful Fall colors blanketing the mountainsides.