Thursday, 17 July 2008


As some of you who have continued to read despide prolonged absences and incoherent ramblings may be aware, my itinerary and access to internet are rather unpredictable.

There is a column to the left of this blog that details my itinerary down to the exact date. Scrap it. After Tsuraku all that went to pot. Thank the stars, because that is when it got even more interesting (for me, anyway).

For you, however, it means that I just don´t have the time or facility to explain all that I am doing, so I apologise that between Tsuraku and now (and from now on, I am afraid) the reportage is bitty at best.

I assure you that I am writing constantly, and will be posting outtakes when I am able to.

So, a quick update of my movements before I take off....

I arrived in Quito from San Cristobal the day before yesterday. It took me a while to settle into Galapagos, but I did finally get to enjoy myself and see some of the sights.

As well as macheteing blackberries and being bitten to buggery by carmelitas (both invasive species that have taken over San Crisobal, brought over last century by a lady called Carmela - not hugely popular amongst the conservationists when she died last year) I got my scuba diving licence, snorkled amongst sea lions and penguins, almost stood up on a surf board, and got a tan.

I also found a shop on Santa Cruz that sold clothes that didn´t say ´Galapagos´, ´I love Boobies´ or diamantes on it, and got my hands on my first pretty clothes since march. Sigh.

I spent the night of my birthday wearing a dress and playing pool with some local guys, the only woman and the only non- local in the bar. I knew one of the guys from my scuba course, so it wasn´t as dangerous as it might sound. Although a couple were a bit flirty none of them were at all pushy, which is refreshing I can tell you after a month of being a little bit pestered.

And so to Quito. It may come as a surprise, but this time I have actually enjoyed myself here! As much as I can in a big noisy smelly dangerous city, anyway.

I flew in with Sacha, who was my partner in crime (and complaint) during our time on San Cris, and we met Felicia and Tomo from Bilsa before Sacha left to head towards Peru in the morning.

Felicia randomly bumped into a couple of volunteers who were at Bilsa while I was away. They were at San Cristobal just before I got there, and so they also know the other girl that flew back to the mainland with us. We all went out for dinner last night. A great Jatun Sacha reunion!

After dinner Felicia, Tomo and I met up with Pato (one of our scientist friends from Bilsa) and his cousin Augustin, for some drinks and dancing. Who would have thought that ´Holiday´by Madonna has a good beat for salsa dancing? Pato and I made it work, so it must be true.

We all got nicely merry and then went back to our hostal to play cuarenta in the courtyard until 4am.

What a difference it makes to have friendly faces around in a scary city!

Now I am in the airport waiting for check in time. Felicia and I are doing a little travelling before she heads back to Switzerland and I head back to Bilsa. We have some really exciting plans about what we want to do, but as we all know plans like this can never be set in stone....

Today we are flying into Cuenca and taking a bus to Loja in the south of Ecuador. The flights to Loja were full today, so we will arrive there by bus this evening. In Loja we are planning to go to Vilcabamba, which is a place where some of the oldest people in the world live, and to hike in the Parque Nacional Podocarpus, which is a biodiversity hotspot with much endemism of both plant and animal species.

Then we will get a bus up to Cuenca, Ecuador´s third city and the home of the Monticristi (the ´Panama´hat is a misnomer - they are made in Ecuador). There´s lots to do in Cuenca, but the one main plan is to take a day trip to see the Inca site Incapirca (and to buy a Monticristi, of course).

From Cuenca we head to Riobamba to meet Antonio´s friend the mountain guide, who is going to accompany us up to the top (fingers crossed) of the 6,000m Cotopaxi.

After climbing the mountain we are going to the volcanic spa town BaƱos for massages etc. After four months in wellies my feet are crying out for a pedicure. Then we head back to Quito to meet Winter on his vacations, perhaps go to a concert with August, and visit some museums and markets.

Phew. It´s going to be a busy ten days.

.........and then I go back into the jungle!

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