December 27, 2012

Elf Party

I've had this idea in the back of my mind since last June - I wanted to use the mountains of fabric scraps to make Christmas toys for poor kids in Quito.

bags full of scraps
Last December, I volunteered an afternoon with an organization called UBECI that works with kids who's parents work on the street (e.g. ice cream sellers, fruit vendors, garbage collectors). The kids were amazing - so cute and ready to play. They don't get much of a chance to be a kid because after a certain age, they're expected to work with the family to earn a living.

If the parents could, they would put their kids in school, but they simply can't. They scrap by earning $1-2 a day so that they can afford the spot where they sleep in an apartment filled with other people.

So anyway, the custom here is to give bags of candy to the kids for Christmas and we helped with that last year. But I felt like we could do something more long-lasting, to give these kids something that will let them just be kids. I got a few friends together and we made stuffed animals and creatures out of my fabric scraps.

The girls hard at work cutting out the patterns

The turners and stuffers (and me with my back turned)
In the end, we made 39 toys, no small feat considering most of my friends didn't know how to thread a needle. I still have quite a bit of scraps left so I'm thinking about making some more toys to distribute later.

A cute little elephant
Our fleet of turtles... 
and their painted bellies
A few owls
Greg and I made this frog and cat afterwards
I gave the toys to the organization this last week and they were so happy to get them. The director told me they have 500 kids who come to their programs so they can't give every kid a toy, but they will hand them out to one of the smaller groups right after Christmas.

I hope I can do something similar every year. I feel like there's so much poverty here (and so many good organizations trying to fit it) so the best thing I could do was to get some people together for an afternoon of crafting for a good cause.

The final pile of toys

December 20, 2012

Handmade in Ecuador

In the US, having something handmade is a treat and usually comes at the higher price range. Here in Ecuador it's not quite the same. There are still the higher-end handmade things made with nicer materials. But you can also find handmade items that aren't unique - they're just handmade because it's hard to find them commercially otherwise or they're much more expensive commercially.

For example, a friend of ours went to a carpenter's workshop with a picture of a table and bench-style seating she wanted in her new home. She may have been able to find something in a store that would have been similar for a much higher price. Instead she chose to go with a local carpenter and have a table custom-made. When we visited with her, she thought the table might be too high and was going to call the same carpenter to come in and saw down the legs for her. And that's normal here.

Labor is cheap here. The minimum wage is $360 a month for people who are employees, not working on their own. That's $1.50 an hour. I'm not sure what the standard hourly wage is for most self-employed people, but have heard that people survive on as low as $1-$2 a day (although they barely do so). But there are a lot of self-employed people here. Movers, painters, house cleaners, delivery services, dog walkers, etc. are all low-paying jobs.

It's a different topic to get into the fact that these workers should be paid a decent living wage so I'm not going to get into it here. But what I've learned from being here is that I can make a small change, but the Ecuadorian society and economy as a whole will have to improve to make long-lasting changes.

My way of dealing with the low prices is not bargaining if I think that the price reflects that marketplace. If I think a price is truly unfair or someone is trying to take advantage of me being a gringa, I simply won't buy the item. That's one nice thing about being a semi-local: you know what the prices of different items should be and when someone is just ripping you off (especially helpful with taxis around here) since not much is labeled with a price in the markets.

December 16, 2012

Holidays in Ecuador

The holidays don't feel as weird this year as they did last year. After all, last year was the first year we weren't in a cold climate for the holidays. We've always grown up with the holidays being chillier and snowier than other times of year. Quito doesn't have any of that - it's nicer in December (sunnier, less rainy) than in October or November so we get awesome weather for the holidays. For example, we helped a friend decorate a paper tree yesterday and after that, we went into the backyard and played lawn games in t-shirts and shorts/skirts. It was sunny and just warm enough, but not too warm.

Getting ready for the holidays is tough when there's no weather clues. People have an easier time here decorating palm trees than pine trees because the pines here get really dried out, as we learned from friends. Because we don't celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah is our big holiday during December normally. This year we lit the menorah that my grandma gave us almost every night - we always seem to forget one or two nights if we're out too late. We made latkes and sufganiot, both fried foods, to celebrate. Greg found a new sufganiot recipe (not Martha Stewart's) that we will be using every year from now on. It was amazing! We shared it with our friends and they were a big hit.

Soon we'll be in Cuenca for the week - we've exchanged our house with our cat sitters' house and are excited to be in a new city that we've heard so much above. Stay tuned for more!

December 6, 2012

Head in the Clouds

Clouds make the mountains almost disappear
At 9,500 feet/2895 meters, we literally have our heads in the cloud. And we're able to get some really awesome photos because the clouds are so vibrant. Some days we can see the fog rolling in from an opening in the hills to the south of us. It slowly covers the whole city, even us.

A sunset
One of few rainbows we have seen
Cold front (Greg's title)
And speaking of clouds, this is one of Greg's favorite videos about how much a hurricane weighs (by Robert Krulwich).

November 29, 2012

Movie Review: Intouchables

This is a seriously good movie - Greg and I both couldn't remember the last time we had laughed so hard in a movie theater. And given we were watching the movie in French with Spanish subtitles, that's gotta say a lot!

How we got into a movie in French with Spanish subtitles is another story. We wanted to see the new Bond, but the one in English was all sold out (although the Spanish-dubbed ones weren't sold out *curious*). So we were scrounging around for another movie coming up soon and saw this one. It looked good so we bought our tickets. Just after we sat down in our seats, we started pondering if this French movie would have English or Spanish subtitles. Duh! I don't even know what we were thinking on this one.

But lucky mistake! Now we have a very good reason to see it again... this time in English!

The basic story is about this rich guy who's a quadriplegic and needs a caretaker. A poor French-African guy shows up and ends up getting the job caring for him. The rest is history (actual history since it's based on a true story)... and quite funny. Check out the trailer: 

November 25, 2012

Macro shots of plants at Cotopaxi

You probably are all sick of our macro shots of plants - we just really like getting close and capturing the details. If you're not sick of it yet, check out our other macro picture blog posts: at the Quito Botanical Gardens, in Salinas, and while we were still in Germany

The area around Cotopaxi is really interesting. It's called a paramo or tundra region. Around the waterfall area, the plants were so lush and full. In the plains and valley, it was mostly grassland with a few trees. And this was all within a kilometer of each other.

Lush jungle-like feel
Grass is the first thing to pop up after a wildfire.
Quito and the Andean part of Ecuador had a lot of wildfires in the summer because it was so dry.
Another picture of a plant hit by the wildfires.
It was mostly charred branches with new leaves coming out.
It was a great example of how life rejuvenates itself after a major disaster like a fire.
I really just wanted to have a picture of how HUGE this pinecone was. 
I just liked these orange flowers and their spiky leaves.

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Although we are far away this Thanksgiving (and no, this is not a holiday that is celebrated down here), we still feel the love from our family and friends. Thanks for keeping up with our blog over the last 3+ years!

Here's our little list of what we feel thankful for today:
  • Our health and happiness (and that of our family and friends)
  • Our time hanging out with family and friends this summer
  • Our baby niece, Emily Clare, who came into this world on Oct.1
  • Scoots (for being a big source of amusement for us)
  • Our apartment overlooking a volcano and much of Quito
  • Getting to know a new culture
  • Being able to speak Spanish every day
  • Quimbolitos, a delicious Ecuadorian dessert
  • Parque Metropolitano, the huge park we live at the base of
  • Our ability to take daytrips and long weekends away at some pretty awesome places 
We're going to a Thanksgiving potluck tonight with some friends of ours. It'll be interesting to see what everyone makes because you can't always find American goods here. For example, cranberries probably won't make an appearance, but for the meat eaters, there'll definitely be a turkey. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

November 20, 2012

What a cute couple!

I feel like on recent trips we hadn't gotten any cute couple pictures. But that all changed with Cotopaxi - we got quite a few (as well as other great pictures).

Although we basically wore the same clothes all weekend, these photos were taken at different times, I swear! And I managed to shower every day so for those of you thinking that we probably stank to high heavens, I can tell you certifiably that I did not... I can't speak for Greg who counted chilling in the jacuzzi as a shower. The jury's still out on that one.

So for your enjoyment, here are a few photos from the weekend:

Us at the waterfalls
Cotopaxi looks tiny compared to us giants!
I was so tired of trying to get a good picture of us at that point - leaning was the best I could do.
It's hard to not get a good picture with that mountain in the backdrop.

November 15, 2012

Not so wild animals at Cotopaxi

In my previous blog post, I talked about our weekend in Cotopaxi. I've got a few more posts to share with you all about it. But this one is a special one to me because the animals at The Secret Garden hostel were very cool.
llama on the move
We literally had two llamas and a horse feeding outside our cabin door every day. The horse and I had a silent communication one day on my way back from breakfast. I gave him a little pet, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't interested in getting petted. He wanted something to nibble on. 
beautiful horses (their heads are so big)
The llamas were the coolest - they kept an eye on the dogs because the wiener dog, Mash, liked to bite their ankles, and the spotted dog, Milo, liked to run at them at high speeds, barking wildly. 

Greg and the llamas watching the dogs
Greg and Mash, who loved to climb up on our laps
whenever we took a break on our hike.
The hostel grounds themselves were huge and allowed for having lots of dogs and animals running around. The hostel was set about 3 km back from the road without any other buildings nearby so I'm guessing all the land around it is theirs. You can see the "driveway" in the picture below. It made for a bumpy ride driving in, but it was totally worth it.
can you spot the dog?
pun intended (he's a dalmatian)
One day we walked along this road with two of the dogs. Greg and I wouldn't do all the activities the other travelers would do, like horseback riding or climbing up mountains, so we walked around the area a lot and always had furry hiking companions.

The dogs loved to follow us. Greg was scared they'd follow us on to the main road on our first walk around, but really the main road was mostly empty so he stopped worrying about them. We were both surprised how far Mash, the dachshund, could walk. He had so much energy and didn't whine to turn back at all. He also could do some pretty high jumping for a thing his size, which made me feel like I had to keep up with him. :-)
Mash taking a break on my lap before breakfast

November 13, 2012

Cotopaxi: The Sleeping Volcano

At the start of this academic year, Greg and I made a list of places we wanted to travel to in the year we had left in Ecuador. Cotopaxi made the list. It was really spectacular to see a volcano so huge (the second highest summit in Quito), but yet one that people climb all the time. In fact, Greg's cousin Sara climbed it when she was here. And we have a few other friends who've also climbed it.

The nice thing about the area is that it's not just one volcano - there's a whole bunch of them there surrounding the valley we were in. Even when Cotopaxi was covered in clouds, the rest of the scenery was really beautiful to look at. I'll write more about our trip in another couple blog posts.

This is my favorite pic of Cotopaxi.
We had an AMAZING sunset on the last night.

November 8, 2012

My Facebook Page

A few of you may know that I've started posting my crocheted creations and yoga bags (as well as other awesome things) on my Facebook page ( I've decided I'm going to be posting all my designs on to the page rather than the photo album that I've been posting them to before. So everything I make will be posted on this page for people to see.

If you haven't seen my crochet designs or yoga mat bags before, here they are:

So if you want to keep seeing my designs and fun creations, I'd love it if you liked my page (just click the Like button below!):

Right now I'm only selling in Quito because shipping is not a feasible option out of Quito, but in the future, my designs may just get to the US, Europe and beyond! I'll let you all know when that happens.

November 6, 2012

Halloween in Quito

Our Halloween this year was a lot more fun than it's been in the past - we actually had trick or treaters! You may remember our Halloween on the island of Lindau in Germany was also eventful.

This year we went to a Halloween party on the Saturday night before and everyone put a lot of work into their costumes. We didn't bring our camera that night, but you'll have to trust me that there was a half an Ecuadorian Olympic swimming team (complete with Speedos and swim caps); a Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky (who you may remember were intimately involved); a table of spaghetti and meatballs and the chef who made it (these two won the prize of best costume); Tony the Tiger and Chester the Cheetos cheetah (the hosts for the night); a set of troll dolls; an owl; a Black swan and a White swan (from the movie The Black Swan); Zohan (played by an Israeli guy); several made-up superheros; a banjo player; 2 binders full of women (thank you Mittens for that!); and Greg as Arthur Dent from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and myself as a black cat or a panther or a jaguar depending on my mood at the moment. There were more, but these were the ones that really stuck out

Then, on the actual day of Halloween, we had trick or treaters! There were maybe 10 or 12 of them and Greg got a few photos. Our favorites were our friends who dressed their little girl as a zebra, our friend came along as a tiger, and they were the zoo keepers. Very cute!

Frida and a ghost

October 30, 2012

Relying on Others

This is the start of what will be more consistent posting. I'm going to aim for posting something at least once a week until we leave Ecuador. Hold me to it, friends and fam!

When we moved to Germany, we brought a lot of silly things with us because we weren't sure what they would have. I mean, things like a half-used jar of Vicks (which we didn't really use) and a huge soup pot (which we did use a lot). Well, of course, Germany is very westernized and sometimes even better than places in the US because it has IKEA. We learned better in the two years we were there. The soup pot went to a good home at the end of our stint in Germany along with quite a few other things.

So when we came here, we didn't make the same mistake of bringing way too much. We arrived with our four suitcases and two carry-ons including all the things we thought we would need.

Here I am relying on my buddies - Meghan and Tamara -
when I didn't bring a hat for this chilly hike last year!
Our other friends used my long underwear for
warmth and her daughter had on my extra pair of gloves.
The funny thing is that Quito is very different than Munich - it's westernized, but not the same amount. And the products that are Ecuadorian can vary in quality A LOT. Plus, the imported items are marked up so much because they have to go through customs. And often you can't find what you're looking for (e.g. almond butter, bulgur, molasses, real maple syrup, good loose-leaf tea, etc.). So all this leads to us relying on our friends to bring us much of our needed items from the US when they go back to visit.

In the US, we're conditioned to feel like if someone does something for you, you need to show your appreciation very soon after that act of kindness.

It's not quite the same here - we, of course, thank the person profusely, but it's more about good karma. If you bring back something for a friend, you don't expect anything from them as a thank you because you may soon have to rely on her or someone else to bring back something for you.

Being here has really taught Greg and I the meaning of community and pulling together for the common good.

October 23, 2012

Good Reasons to Visit Ecuador, Part II

As promised, here's Part II of our reasons to visit Ecuador:

Feel TALL!
View from our window - we get the best sunsets!
Every time I stand next to Ecuadorians, I feel tall. It may be hard to imagine someone feeling tall at a small 5'4" (on a good day), but it's true! Especially next to men here, I am tall. The indigenous people are shorter than average Ecuadorians, but my mom at 5'0" would be average here.

The Great Outdoors
Ecuador is a dream for the outdoors people. Greg and I can get lazy, but we get out a lot here. We have a great huge park right behind our apartment that we can explore the trails of. It's great for those days when you don't want to get out of the city to be in nature. Otherwise, there are some great daytrips that are within 2 hours of Quito: PapallactaPululahuaMindoOtavalo, etc.

Diverse Regions
Making friends with a seal in the Galapagos!
Ecuador has a great diversity in terms of climates - it's got the Andes (where we are), the Amazon (about 7 hours away by bus and boat; 1 hour by plane), the Coast (about 7-10 hours away by bus or less than an hour by plane), and the Galapagos (which is amazing). In those regions are sub-regions like cloud forests, which are amazing. It means you get to see a lot of different types of life in Ecuador.

Strong Sun
Because of the altitude and the equator, the sun is really strong here. Bring lots of sunscreen and cool sun hats while you visit because you will use them both a lot. You'll go home with a lot of vitamin D!

Intact Culture

We thought Germany had a strong culture, but it's got nothing on Ecuador. You'll still see people wearing traditional clothes, speaking Quichwa (the native language), and creating materials in the old way. It's amazing to feel like you're living in a real-life museum in that sense.

October 16, 2012

Reasons You Should Visit Ecuador, Part 1

In response to this post about reasons you may not want to visit Ecuador, I'm here to tell you all the wonderful things about Ecuador that Greg and I came up with.

It's Cheap!
How cheap? you ask. It's 25-roses-for-$1 cheap (granted those are for the older roses - the regular roses are $2-3 for a dozen). We calculated it's about 1/2 of the cost of living in the US and 1/3 of the cost of living in Munich (unless you're buying lots of imported goods - then it can be about similar to those prices).

Super-Sweet People
I bet you won't find nicer people in all of South America. Everyone says hello and smiles at you on the street and in the stores. One of my friends asked directions to a street and the Ecuadorian person took them in their car to the exact address. There are some mean people here and there, but mostly they're just really sweet and super helpful.

Nightly Fireworks Show
We met one of my grandma's friends while they were visiting from Israel and she mentioned how the night before there was this huge fireworks show near their apartment. We told her that there are free fireworks shows around the city at least 3-4 nights a week on any given week. Some are more spectacular than others,  but they're not hard to find here. There's always a reason to celebrate!

It's easy to walk dress like this in Quito - perfect temps!
Great Temperature
It's lately just hit in the rainy season, which means we'll often get rain in the late afternoon/early evening, but not every night. Sometimes we get fog, which is my personal favorite! But even in the rainy season, it never gets below (or even near) freezing. During the day, when the sun is out, you can go around in short sleeves and sandals without freezing. And at night, a light jacket and/or sweater is usually warm enough. It's a major plus to being here!

Fruits and Desserts
Greg loves this dessert called quimbolitos, which is a little cake made of cornflour and raisins and steamed in a plantain leaf. It's yummy and something you can't find in other places. I also like one called humitas, which is savory as a cornflour cake with cheese inside and steamed in a corn husk. Ecuadorians eat that for
breakfast with coffee.
And the fruits are ridiculous. I can get fresh strawberries, pineapple, passion fruit, oranges, bananas and papaya any time of year. There's a distinct mango season, which we're coming up to. The vegetables are more limited, but the tomatoes are always tasty and bright red. Plus, there were a lot of new fruits for us to try - guanabana, pitahaya (super yummy), taxo, granadilla, and more.

andean lychee
Greg also wanted me to mention that popcorn is served like everywhere. That's our personal favorite!

Check out Part II of this list next week!

October 9, 2012

Reasons You're Not Ready to Visit Ecuador

Before people get up in arms about this post, I'm going to follow this up with one about why you should visit Ecuador. I'm just being honest here - visiting a developing nation is very different in some ways from the US, Canada or Europe.

In other ways, Ecuador itself is very westernized. You hear American music, see English-speaking films and can find American clothing and food brands here without much trouble. But regardless of that similarity, visitors need to keep in mind that they are not coming to a country like the US or Canada.

Here are my reasons on why you're not ready to visit Ecuador:

1) Pollution
The buses here can be old and belch black smoke. My way of dealing with it: take a scarf with me to hold against my nose and mouth when going by the busy streets AND avoid the busy streets as much as possible.

2) Chance of getting robbed
This is mostly an issue in the big cities and on buses. But we haven't gotten robbed yet and we've been here more than a year. Knock on wood!

There are some areas of Quito where this is more of a problem and the time of night certainly doesn't help. Also, if you're drunk and/or look like you have money (i.e. walking around with an expensive purse, diamond earrings or a fancy gadget), there's a good chance you'll get robbed whatever time of day.

3) Food poisoning
I've been sick here more often than anywhere in my life. It's not for lack of being careful, but you have to wash all your fruit and veg for 5 minutes in an anti-bacteria wash before eating them raw. And you never know if the place where you're eating has done that or not.

Places where tourists eat aren't as much of a problem, but in the small towns and villages, there isn't always a restaurant just for tourists. So you've gotta be extra careful with your food and making sure it's cooked through and through. I hope I don't have to say this, but street food is a big no-no.

4) High Altitude
This of course is only a problem in the Andes region, but it affects a lot more than people think. Not only does it mean my brownies don't cook well, but you also have to be extra careful about the sun and about exerting yourself too much. It's easy to get winded here.

Other effects of high altitude when you first get here are headaches, waking up at odd hours of the night (for the first few days, I kept waking up at 2 or 3 am even though I was exhausted), racing heart beats, getting winded walking or going up stairs, dehydration and more fun stuff!

5) Poverty
If you can't live with the sight of 4-year-olds on the sidewalk by their parents' kiosk or an 11-year-old helping with road construction (and not in school), you should not visit Ecuador. This is a regular sight and it breaks my heart every single time.

I don't think I'll ever get used to it and I will carry these sights with me for the rest of my life. If there is a good side to this, it's that it makes you really want to make change in the world so that no child has to grow up in this way. And it also makes me think of how much more we have in the US that we take for granted.

6) Bad, Unsafe Driving
I have not yet seen an accident here, but I read in the local newspaper that every day there are 13 deaths and 136 wounded in the country due to traffic accidents (stats taken over the last 4 years). It's not hard to see why. People drive like they're crazy, swerving and veering through traffic. Buses can be old and not maintained well, and the crazy drivers don't help matters.

We take taxis a lot and I have only had a few times where I've climbed into a taxi and found a seat belt AND a seat belt buckle. People just don't use them. I've seen taxi drivers who've used them only if they see the police nearby. Buckling kids in properly (in a car seat) is a rarity. Normally, when I look into other cars, I see mothers holding their babies on their laps in the passenger seat.

7) Little English
People may laugh at this, but I've definitely heard Americans who have come to different countries and been amazed that they don't speak English. Sorry, but duh! It's no different here, except worse because you cannot rely on hardly anyone having English skills except at hotels where they cater to tourists. If you come here, you should prep by learning common Spanish words and phrases beforehand. The good thing is that most people are so nice and try to be as helpful as possible.

8) Noise
I think we already covered this enough with our post about top noisiest nights in Quito. It's a bit quieter and  more tranquil outside of the big city. If you're in Quito, expect noise at night regardless of where you're staying.

9) Unsafe construction
I wish I had a picture to show you of the sidewalks in Quito and how unsafe they are. You really always have to be looking down to make sure you're not going to trip. One friend of ours tripped on a sidewalk and fell, breaking her front tooth. Another colleague of Greg's tripped and sprained her ankle while simply walking on the sidewalk. The sidewalks here take no prisoners!

Construction sites tend to lack the safety requirements that are normal in the US. Sometimes you'll see a site that requires hard hats for their workers. Other times, there's no hard hats for workers and safety goes out the window. If a sidewalk is closed for construction, often times people have to walk on the side of the road because there's no other way to get around it.

10) Potential for Natural Disasters
This could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. If you've never seen a volcanic eruption before, you have a good chance to see one if you go down to Banos in Ecuador. Same goes for landslides and floods. We've often seen the aftermath of a landslide on the highways on our trips, but have not been in a natural disaster ourselves.

11) Horrible Bathrooms
I've braved many horrible bathroom situations in the past (the best one was the squatting toilet in a cafe in Turkey), but nothing compares to the amount of horrible bathrooms I've found in Ecuador. The smells, the lack of toilet paper or soap, the filth... agh, that is one memory I hope I leave behind in Ecuador.

12) Yucky Beer
Greg has been making due with the horrible beer here, but the first thing he wanted to do this summer was get a great beer when we were back home. At least the wine is pretty good from South American countries.

I hope this list doesn't dissuade people from visiting, but rather, makes people understand that visiting a developing country isn't all fiestas and happiness. There's some bad parts to it, too. You'll love all the good things that you can see here though - just wait for our next post about it soon!

October 2, 2012

Weekend in a CRATER

The blog posts are slow in coming, I know - we actually took this trip for Greg's birthday weekend September 23rd. We went to this beautiful, huge crater called Pululahua (try saying that three times fast - impossible).
See how dry this part of the valley is?
This is how it normally looks. (picture from here)
When we went, it hadn't rained in ages and much of it was really dry on the walk down. Because yes, we walked the cliff down to the crater bottom (and we walked back up on Sunday, too). The walk was steep and slippery with loose rocks, but we managed not to fall off or disgrace ourselves too much. The valley was so quiet and peaceful when we got all the way down.

Cute little donkey we met on the way down -
he didn't want much to do with us. :-/

After we ate lunch, we went for a longer walk around the base of the mountain in the crater. On the other side of the mountain, everything changed. It was lush and overgrown with plants - the farms were thriving and colorful. It was really beautiful. Midway through our hike, the fog rolled in and we were lucky to have a trail to follow otherwise we would've gotten quite lost.

I made friends with a donkey - he was in it for food, I think.
Too bad for him we had no donkey food on us.
Cows chillin' in the fog
The hike in the fog was very ethereal and dream-like. When we came out on the side our hostal was on, we saw farmers in the fields, chickens running around and cattle grazing, but only when the fog rolled away to reveal them. It was one of the coolest hikes I've been on in a while.

The fog is just about engulfing the land.
That night, we celebrated Greg's birthday with some yummy organic food and a dip in the hostal's jacuzzi. The next morning we ate breakfast, bought some of their naturally grown coffee and made our way up the side of the mountain back up to society.

The whole trip back to Quito probably took us 2.5 hours door to door. This actually is a short trip given that it can take us 1.5 hours to get to the southern bus terminal, which is IN Quito. We have a love/hate relationship with the traffic here.