Very excited. We've booked a 5 day jungle trip from next Monday (2nd July)and an 8 day Galapagos cruise from next Sunday (8th July)!!!! Still expensive but you get a good discount booking last minute and in the country.
We went to Riobamba on Tuesday - 4 hours south of Quito (Monday we got carried away organising trips and numerous runs to the bank... tour agency only take cash! crazy!)
Bus journey different still to the other latin american countries. Never mind a timetable we get out of taxi and a bus conveniently is going to Latacunga (our intial destination) and they load our bags straight from taxi.
I'd quite missed the snack stops and empanadas of Argentinan and Chilean buses; Bolivia and Peru you were lucky if the bus stopped so you could go to the loo behind a hut :-) Anyways here you get an entire sales troup... 5 or 6 people in matching tshirts selling drinks, ice cream, newspapers, phonecards, crisps, chicken legs, sandwiches... every half hour or so through the more populated areas. Very cool. And great for me as I love the coconut icepops - and as i´ve mentioned in other blogs I´m getting braver than ben with street food :-)
Oooh and can`t forget the travelling salespeople who give an enthusiastic minimum 10 minute sales pitch on athletes foot pills, herbal drink, jewellry, mp3 downloads...no joke... and the take up was pretty good! The first time a guy gave his pitch we were like, ¨who´s going to buy foot pills¨ but he obviously sold them well :-)
So, Riobamba. Not overawed. Main reason for going there is to take a train ride down the Nariz del Diablo (Devils Nose) - and you sit on the roof! Bit of a death road on rails. Anyways after a couple of japanese died earlier this year they've stopped it. It´s now just a bus on wheels so didn´t feel this warranted the 11 USD charge.
Instead we took a hike&bike trip to Chimborazo; Ecuadors highest point and volcano. We walked from the first refuge (4800m) to the second (5000m)... about 1km and took me 50mins. Beautiful sunshine and I added to my panda eyes. We walked back to first refuge for a sandwich and coca tea then got on bikes. First section back down mountain to main road was off road, no traffic, lots of crevices and loose rock. Only had one near fall. Back on main road much easier. Still several pot holes. Great scenery. Can´t wait to upload photos... mountains are huge and lumpy and it looks like someone has thrown a giant patchwork quilt over them as every single space is cultivated despite it being steep and surely difficult to access.
As we passed through the villages we were greeted by excited cries of "Hola Gringo!" from all the under 10´s. Very cute.
Back in Quito. Going on bike tour/ride of Cotopaxi tomororow - Ecuador´s second highest volcano.