Friday, 31 October 2014

0131 Quito to Guamote

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.   Yes, a 5 wow day, and done at up to 3620 metres - That's 11,877 feet in the old language.  And on great roads, and beautiful weather.  What more can anyone ask for ?

But it all started out much differently, but in a humorous way.  I mean, if you see signs saying "Parque Equinoccial Parqueadero" when you are in the vicinity of the Equator, you would think this would be where the monument is, wouldn't you ??  Well, not only is it NOT where the equatorial monument is, but when you do finally find the correct monument (about 5 kms further north) - IT IS IN THE WRONG PLACE !  It is about 300 yards wrong, and the REAL 00.00.000 latitude point is actually behind a big blue wall that you cannot get past !! The point where the monument stands is at a point so designated as the Equator in 1744 by a certain gentleman from a country I won't mention, but which is just over the water from England.  And his measuring was up the spout - But then over 300 years ago, I guess he was pretty good to get as close as he did !  It certainly took us a long time to find it today as well, and we had signs and a GPS, so I can sympathise with the original "founder" in 1744 !!

When we drove in to Quito 2 days ago, we were surprised that when we crossed the equator there was no sign of any kind on the road marking the fact.  We later found out that they have just one monument, on a different road than we (and every one else)arrives on, and that is 30 kms north of the city.  So after our day exploring Quito, we left our hotel early, and set off north through the city traffic to find our Equator for some suitable photos to document this momentous occasion.  We followed these signs out of town - And when we eventually reach the "Parque" found nothing there but a bit of red metal, and an office of people who looked at us like we were crazy !  Even my sat nav said "No equator round here" !!  Eventually we found out that the monument is about 5 kms further up the road.

So we drove on, and sure enough, just as Garmin was starting to get to 00.00.200, we saw the monument.  Being oldies we got in cheap, but no cars allowed ! We MUST get a photo of Troopie here !   So after sweet talking the gate men, and handing out kangaroo stick pins (our regular bribe !!), we eventually get Troopie in and get the required photos.  We also meet Mike and Maggie from Cleveland near Brisbane who are on a big tour themselves, and after a chat with them (he hails from Bournemouth originally and landed in Aus at about the same time I did at the end of the 1960's !) we headed out.  We had a fair distance to cover to get to Guayaquil, and only 2 days to do it if we were to catch our flight out to the Galapagos early on Sunday morning.

But first we had to get back through Quito.  Quito is only about 7 kms wide, but is about 75 kms long !  And we had to go from the very north edge, out of the southern end !!   3 hours later, we were just about in the country !!  Good job we set off early !

We then had a spectacular drive through mountains, past volcanoes, up over 3600 metres.  It was just magical the whole way.  And we just plodded along at a comfortable pace, planning to stop wherever we got to when the sun went down.  We had lunch at a gas station by the road with a lovely view of the 5897 m Volcan Cotopaxi, before heading on down this magical road.

We found a town specialising in a particular type of ice cream, and when we pulled up at one of the many shops selling them, the lady came out and served us in the car !  Janet declared the ice cream excellent - I declined apart from one lick !!  From there we continued on our way, chatting to people beside the road when we were stopped at traffic lights, and getting out to see some cuy (guinea pigs) being roasted on a spit in a village ! Janet wanted to take photos but they ladies didn't want their photos taken, although I managed a few shots from the car !!  Interesting sight - (Un)fortunately they weren't cooked yet so we had to cook our own supper !!

As sun set, we drove into the little mountain town of Guamote, and found a spot beside the local gas station where they allowed us to sleep, and tucked in early as it quickly got very cold up there at 3000 m.   An amazing day through countryside and mountains we just never thought would be so visually stunning.  If this is the Andes, I can't wait to get further south and see what me they have to offer.

Pics are here :-

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