Monday, February 26, 2007

Home at Last

Get up, get checked out, kewl, the discounted rate was applied to both nights... and called the cab. Get to the airport and it's dead. It's 03h15 and I'm expecting it to be a zoo. There are a few people still on cots around the airport, but I found out nothing officially opens until 04h00. DAMN... I could have grabbed 30 more zzzz's, it's ok I was at the head of the line to confirm and get my boarding passes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Stranded in Hog Town

Tummy wasn't quite so happy today, my ciprofoxin, is in my checked lugage somewhere in O'Hare, and I'm done my treatment with the meds from ecuador. I'll suck it up, I have immodium, again, not really what I should take, but is better then nothing. OOOooooo Giordanos pizza, yup ... yummmy, I can see the hype..... I ran down stairs and bought myself a clean pair of socks, underwear and a tooth brush, ahhhhh I almost feel human again....

Called everyone to let them know I wasn't home yet, and won't be home until monday.

Today is a lazy day, pizza and a Law and Order SVU Marathon on WB or whichever channel it was on. Need to rest, I have a 03h00 wake up call to head home.

Ordered a nice monte cristo sandwich with pickle, fries and a bowl of french onion soup for supper, and lots and lots of water. Still fairly dehydrated....

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Homeward Bound - NOT!

Got to the airport 2 hours before my flight and there is a pretty long line up. I say my farewells to Maria Cecilia and get into the queue. Started chatting with a couple yanks, one an older lady in her mid-fifties, the other a tween that just finished his student exchange program. 9/11 and iraq are still topics of discusion. Get to the counter, check my bags and have to make my to emmagration. First I have to pass through and pay an airport tax, which added an extra 15 minute delay before getting into the emmagration queue.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Last Day

Today is my last day in Ecuador, and wouldn't you know the weather finally is decent (at least for my time in quito... weather was great in baños). The day that I'm least going to be able to enjoy it.... so many things to do, still so many things to see. I didn't get to go to the bull ring, or their olympic stadium, I still hadn't made my way through all the museums yet. Ohhh well.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Please Kill Me

Me and my big yap. In the middle of the night, I had a second fever, and the cup of coffee, the soup, and most of the fluids I had consumed, flushed down the toilet. I spent the whole night purging... sigh ... By the Cap Health nurses' description I'm not to what I would think of as sever diarrhea, so try and grit it out a little. Hopefully I can fight this off and build some immunity to what ever little bug is tickling my tummy. Maria Cecilia had a little gurlling the previous night but she wasn't sick... so damn it why can't I build up a tolerance to this little bug.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

UH OH!

Public transit in Ecuador is nothing like back home. On each bus there is a conductor, the guy sticks is head out the door and shouts the various stops of that particular bus. Next just like on the bus to and from Baños, peddlers hop on an off pushing their wares. You have the music pumpin', and most importantly you pay when you get off the bus.

Well I made it back to old Quito on the bus.... YEAH!!! I walked down Calle de las Siete Cruces (Street of the seven crosses.) Starting at the basilica (oops, I forgot today is Ash Wednesday) I strolled my merry way along.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Back to Quito

Got up and had some fruit for desayuno, then chatted with the hotel owner. Puyo is a no go the town will be a bigger zoo then Baños. Now that the chaos of carnival is reduced, we go see the inside of the church.... It's quite amazing some very nice older portraits and icons. Then we notice a bunch of people running .... Wax fire, Wax fire (shades of alf shouting grease fire come to mind ;)) With all the candles they had been burning over the last few days some surplus wax caught fire and was causing a commotion. Still a handful of kids spraying that bloody foam, but they are doing from the safety of moving vehicles, and the victims are not nearly as jovial about getting it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Next Stop Puyo - Maybe Not!?

Puyo was a bust!!! Maria Cecilia and I got up had some eats, and tried to catch a bus, the adventure begins. After Realizing we would have to wait a couple hours for the bus, we decided not to go, may be tomorrow (play the theme from the littest hobo.....) We tried to find our ticket agent, she had abandoned her counter, and was coming and going pretty much on a whim. We pin her down and we return our tickets. Instead of just giving us $4 back, nope, she wanted her $6 and the ticket (a $5 and $1) and gave us back our original $10 ( a single ten dollar bill). I would have been fine with getting back 4 singles, but man this country and change.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chiva Ho

Got up and had desayuno (huevos, jamon, cafe negro, y jugo de mora con leche)... Jugo con leche (juice with milk) became a breakfast staple.... in effect what an Orange Julius aspires to be. We decided to take another tour with the guides from Adventure Equatorland.

The chiva was a lot fuller than for the volcano run, and I quickly realized most things here are built for midgets. I don't mean little people, born with genetic disorders, I mean people smaller that me. I'm no giant, but man.... when people were my height the were of much slighter frame. If they had any meat, they were much shorter.... and unlike for the volcano run sitting on the roof rack really wasn't an option. I was able to sit on the outside of the bench so I could at least lean out a tad. But my knees were around my ears. Fitting the camera gear was a touch of an adventure as well.... but I managed.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Off to Baños

Maria Cecilia got off work early, so we are going to take advantage of the 4 day weekend. Since she did not have her car yet we thought we might rent one....HAHAHAHAHAHA..... 2K USD deposit on a rental, and for a sub-compact ~140 per day.... called a few more places, nothing under a $1,500 USD deposit. Plan B, lets take the bus. In for a penny, in for a pound. We cab it to a smaller bus station, and look at the schedule, nothing grabs our fancy. The ticket agent recommends we go to the main bus terminal. We cabbed it back to her flat, packed for the weekend (the driver was awesome he waited for us to pack) and headed to the main bus terminal.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rain Rain Rain


Welcome to the tropics. Frequent rain showers seem to be the norm, even at altitude. Was another day of walking around old Quito. There is something like 15 or 20 museums covering different aspects and periods of Ecuadoran history. I'm still strolling only with my point-n-shoot, instead of the DSLR. There is an amazing old cathedral, for a couple bucks you can go up into the clock towers, you can also walk around the sanctuary.

The smell of the food was finally too big a temptation. Just off the square the was a little shop that sold papas fritas (french fries). So for a buck I got myself an order with all the local fixins. Made my way back to the montaña, so far so good food is agreeing with me. Siesta and a couple more bottles of water and life is good.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Hoofin' in a Foreign Land

Had a restless night, damn, forgot new bed, no sleep, but otherwise ok. I'm still on mountain time so I missed desayunos, who the hell am I trying to kid, it's the before noon, mountain time my ass.

I walked from montaña to the Ecuador National Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador... google it if you're interested. All I can say is WOW.... oooh and by-the-way did I mention wow. The archeology floor was amazing. I've seen photos of some of the pieces in books on the Inca, but to see the pieces even if it is through a couple inches of lexan.... wow. The floor with all the Catholic iconographic art was interesting. There was also a section of modern and contempory art, I can see they have talented artists, but the archeology floor ... wow... I was in awe.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So it begins

Kewl, I slept on my first night in a new bed. I guess being awake for 30 hours in a possible cure for my road trip insomnia.

Maria Cecilia was at work and called me a ~09h00 in the before noon.... yes in there is a second 9 o'clock and I'm a little mortified. Dragged myself into the resturaunt for desayuno (breakfast). Had a nice huevos con tocino (eggs with bacon), tostada (toast), jugo de papaya (papaya juice) and several cups of a good strong cafe negro (black coffee) ooooh yeah and a plate of fresh cantelope... Scribbled my notes from the previous 48 hours and made my way to the computer that had internet access.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Airplanes From Hell

Monday, ready or not, today is the day. I'm going to start my biggest adventure in many many years. Some might argue since at least high school but I'm not gonna think about it. 10 days in Ecuador, no work, no hockey just an adventure ahead. Lugage is packed, it took several tries to get it right, I even had to send Maria Cecilia's gift via DHL since my lugage was full... turns out, it was also over weight but not too bad. Kjell is a the kennel (really don't like abandonin g him but ....) Got's my reading material Eric Idle's The Road To Mars. 

Inspite of the web stuff I've read I'm taking a large complement of my photo gear, and I got myself a decent point and shoot for walking around. One full suitecase, one carry on of camera gear, and a backpack with an integrated waterbag and waterproof camera compartment. I'm set. Also have my usual fanny pack with a cd player and a couple of disks and all the stuff that makes metal detectors go beep in it.

Got a lift to the airport from my mate Andreas. The weather was foggy since ice crystals were floating in the air, Andreas wanted to play with his Tom Tom navigation system, so we had it show us the fastest route from my flat to the airport. Turns out that going through the back route (through Devon is fastest.)

It's about 22h30, I've got my boarding passes, am about to clear security and ZOT Random security check. Guess the guy was bored. It wasn't a strip search, but was an aggravation since I had several hidden belts on. When I looked like a crazed biker, not a big deal, but geeze mang, I almost look respectable now (DAMN, I still can't say that with a straight face). I finally got through security, now it's waiting for my 00h30 boarding call.

Edmonton Intl Airport

We board the plane on time, was a full red eye to TO, hmmm remind myself need business class if I'm on these cattle cars. The pilot queues us up for a good de-icing, starts powerin' everything up and then stops. Pilot tries again, and it sounds like someone winching the luggage compartments closed. Nope. Third times the charm...... HAHAHAHAHA.... plane has lost hydraulic pressure (should be 3000 psi, only have 700 according to the captain). We sit on the runway waiting for a maintanace crew.... tick tock, tick tock (you can play the final jeopardy theme here). No can do, the repair crew needs parts. We get to deplane. Time is ticking and my connection to Miami is looking in jeopardy (there's a song by Greg Kihn or Weird Al who's music could be played for this one.)

Yeah! New plane, and it's a larger capacity so the cattle car factor isn't as bad. It's ~ 02h30 and we are finally on our way, luggage was successfully transfered. People were bagged, guy next to me was sawin' logs somethin' fierce. Our inflight flick was Flushed Away.

TO - Pearson Intl Airport

I've lucked out. I'm gonna make my connection because they changed my plane from a 767 to an A321-200. This also means they've changed my gate and delayed the flights departure 3/4 of an hour, Whew. A little tired but nothin' that I haven't dealt with before, just grab some Timmies' and I'm golden.

Off to Miami

Got on the plane a little cramped but aisle seats are my friend (I can spill over into the aisle and no one complains :D). I was sitting by this nice old couple, they've been married 67 years.... WOW 67 years.... They were heading to Miami for a cruise. She was 87, he was older, I didn't catch his age. Spent time chatting with her about baking pies, how to make something less sweet and vegan friendly. She'd be talking about stuff, then suddenly, she'd doze off for a couple minutes, wake up and keep on going. The movie was Flicka, so I tried catching a couple zzzs but not many.

Arrived at Miami, need to get from Section F to Section D (American Airlines International Flights). Miami Internation is a dungeon, and I thought Pearson Terminal 1 was old and ugly.... bzzzt for me I have a new winner ... Miami.

Found customs, transfered my checked lugage, clear customs and security screening. What a pain us airports have become. Grabbed myself some sugar and a bevy then made my way to my departure gate.

For the first time in a long time I was a minority in looks and language. Was an interesting sensation.... Shades of "One of these things in not like the other" started playing through my mind. Most of the people at the gate area of course were latin american, and speaking spanish. If you have noticed, even after tanning the only dark thing about me is my soul..... even height, while I'm average height in my world, there I was like a freakin' giant. Was interesting.

Off to Quito

The plane was a 757 and was in super-cattle-car mode, and the plane was packed... hey it's Carnival in Ecuador and people are heading home. There was the odd seat but nothing worth trying to move to, mostly the odd centre seat. The flight was very different from the from what I'm accustomed to. People were yacking up a storm, lots more jawin' and socializin' than on a canuck or yank flight. I reminded me of the plane trips with the jazz choir back in high school... ( oooh thoose poor stews.... what a blast those trips were.) Food was great, a nice braised beef with mashed potatoes and a corn relish, damn wish I could have seconds.

Didn't recognize the movie, it was in español (go figure....) There were a handful of gringos on the plane, mostly clients of Eco Adventure. I was sitting by a tween who was going to school in the US and heading home to visit. The other guy, a yank from South Carolina, was heading to Ecuador to visit is daughter. Didn't catch the yanks occupation, but he has lived all over the world doing whatever it was he did.

Arrived in Quito. Lots of turbulence on the flight but nothing too scary. Cleared Ecuadoran Customs, met Maria Cecilia for the first time in person... We've chatted via IM and the phone but now we meet.... She brought a nice bouquet of flowers TKX. Caught a cab, and checked into the hotel. The Eugenia Hotel in quito is quite nice. I'm bagged I've been up since 10:00 Monday.

Had a quick shower and found a nice little taquería. Had a margarita, a michelada (beer,an ecuadorian pilsner, with aji salsa...)and a couple of crisp corn tacos, bif y pollo. The pollo was great, lotsa flavour the bif not so much. Need to watch my fluids at altitude, dehydration could be a problem. so far so good no need for the altitude meds.

I'm ready to crash...