run down from Bogota thru Ecuador (Peru is amazing, yet to come)

Ecuador Travel Blog

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banos city in Ecuador

After Medellin I went to Bogota, there I stayed at a Swiss owned Hostel, basically hostels are only a bed and to speak some English. I look for price and kitchen and amigos come.  I try to take night buses, whenever possible Sunday arrival. I arrive at 6am first day went to the market bought a harmonica I been longing  for ages. Used I didn’t know the price of a new and didn’t look to see if she was in good shape, bad moves, information saves money. For 5000 pesos more (20,000) I later bought a new and ditched the old. In the week, I found an area for used American clothes, 15thcarrer between 56-59thcalle- much to everyones surprise I paid 6000peso for  an Avrix flyers jacket. Bogota is colder, for 6000 pesos, about $3.50, a great deal considering every jacket is minimum of 12,000pesos, she took pity in the bargaining… but knowing I could later resell it if I don’t destroy the stitching I sent that home along with a few vintage ties I found in various markets in Central America from the US.

waterfalls after 20km ride
In Bogota there are a few worthwhile museums, most notably the Botero Museum. Went to the University kids plaza my third day thinking I seen all of Bogota and ready to go, in Cosa Plaza found kids doing improv, playing music smoking and drinking. Thus found  my new hangout. There too I met a lovely Colombian girl my age (think Lauren Bacall),  but with some serious religious issues that sent her to nunnery for a few years, she still has that cloistered feel to her but we kissed and talked and went to a house party of this girl who is a film producer, cool 2 bedroom place for $200 she shares with a friend. I was looking for Spanish classes and a uni job teaching but everywhere wanted to pay peanuts, perfectly happy to employ a warm, white body with no exp and there are too plenty so I lose.
waiting for the truck back.
At one uni I was offered free lessons, the students learn to teach by teaching foreigners Spanish.  One of the cooler things is the free city tour, was shown these amazing statues all in the air. Met the artist who did all the cool statues on top of buildings in Candelaria, the old town where I was staying. One of the German girls I was hanging out with is an artist and fell in love with a painting, I with the girl so I bought the painting. Oh the silliness I do, and the bureaucratic bs, I didn’t want to spend the 8 days waiting for certificate from the ministry of culture, I ended up lugging the painting to Quito Ecuador.

I met some cool people in the hostel and they witnessed one of my great youthful revivals. We bar hopped, Candaleria is the college area , being that my friends are European they like disco, I hate euro techno music, I get the symptoms of closterphobia in discos, so with my 10 minutes and 5 minutes out to the college bar was well spent- college bar was closing and a parade of youthful women came onto the street.

festival, great appreciation for Ecuadoran music
The college bar sits across from the BBC- Bogota Brewing Co., all the appeal chain bars/restaurants share-shit. Met a girl there for an intercambio lesson. My conversation may not be particular deep, more on the interesting side, a side that BBC customers tend to avoid, often easier to spend money than be interesting. The college bar is 2.5 floors of squeshed together patio tables, a take out counter for bottles, wet floor where beer puddles up under foot, I like dirt. All this is good enough, and better- it has been years since I took home two girls in one night. God bless to see me swing away again. Girls were friends too, bonus points I believe. Got the Carribean side girl out in the morning, not before she gave her recommendation to the other and then her friend, about 2 pm she left after talking to the German girl who I was much interested in.
On her suggestion, I told the other girl I was busy, she had to go- as I followed her out she said “I hate you” as we passed the German girl sitting on the sofa. The German was  alittle into me so the next day I followed her to a Hare Krishna retreat, a few hours south of Bogota. Dare I say bullocks, hated it. Diddled the girl, but was reminded that novice traveler girls tend to use you for a safety net while traveling. I do understand, some people don’t like being alone. Home alone and safe, fine but on the road it can be scary, especially for women. She had a boyfriend coming in a few weeks. I made an abrupt exit from the Hare Krishnas. They wanted me to pay 25,000 a night that included me busting my ass 5 hours a day- thanks but no.
 They agreed, not happily. All is good that ends well in the travelin world. At this point I went back to Medellin to partake in some free Spanish classes but the free classes were kinda given at the whim of the students at the teaching college and since they were doing their finals it didn’t happen. So I decided to go to the coffee region, at the bus station met one of the many cool Belgians- will be moving there one day unless something steers me away. Belgium is the perfect country! Arrived again in the morn, couple cups of fresh coffee, you must say tinto which means no sugar- otherwise coffee and sugar are natural way of hello. Settled into a hostel, met Diego from Spain, and Connie (friend from Bogota), Sven (Belgian), I- we hiked through the Valley de Cocoa, met a Finnish girl at the finish line.
shrunken heads in the museum
Not so particular on hiking for the joy of hiking, scenes were good but if there is nothing to hike to, it seems rather pointless.   Finnish are lovely and with a good sense of humor. We laughed that the Finnish live in cardboard boxes (my come on line probably isn’t so good) while we shared the front seat back to town. My imagination can really take over beyond myself control, I started to create towns, schools, of poor Finnish scouring the land, then realized I was getting carried away... That evening we went to this bar where they play something called Tevo- like horseshoes, with a mound of clay, explosives and a rock, no shoes- when you hit the center you get a big explosion. Cool game! That evening Finnish girl and I had some fun and decided to go to the Banos- hotsprings! Deigo came with.
antique poncho
We enjoyed hotsprings and parted. The best thing about travelers (other than it is an European term for gypsies) is you part at the best time. She is super and her travels will continue north, mine south. Lovely to meet her as we did. Diego and I went to Calle. Diego is from Spain, a good guy but scared of getting robbed, it’s all about the warnings throughout the travelguides- people who are there first time out take those warnings way to serious. Guide books and tv travel shows become more and more tools of travel marketing strategies- scrutinize or some ass will say “but I robbed in the big city”. Really needed to be told? Common sense is not virtuous when travel guides become the Bible.  We arrived in Calle late at night, he pouted the walk to the hostel “rober more expensive than taxi.
hat factory outside of Cuenca
” I started to get a bad feeling, bad feelings in people sometimes become a free fall. Then I met a Belgian one of those one in 1,000,000… the not good 1. Who knew he was bigoted, silly, fearful, ball less until of course it is too late. He who wanted to go to the coast for whale watching, “are you sure it is season?”I say.  Yes, definitely not! We went and of course I am still free falling, it is out of season but there a girl and I flirted… fell in love with the most beautiful girl I have seen, a local with short skirt that bounced as she walked. I passed, spoke English so she’d be ready to look at us…her,my eyes followed and the smile, happened again and again- wow! But this cat was all- ‘but they’re all black, here it is a slum.
hat factory outside of Cuenca
’ When surrounded by negative people my thoughts become more depressive- she’s too young, doesn’t speak English, professional?, I will waste my time, I am sure more negative statements flashed through as I reasoned out a weak mans way out. Actually from the moment I agreed to go, he poured on the negative comments so I had it up to my eyeballs with this.  I said fine let’s go back to Calle. All can’t be lost… I met the prettiest, little, intelligent Chilean girl who mapped out my Peru travel. Just love women when they travel, have knowledge of history and a dash a beauty and allows me to take the easy way out.  Peru should be everything I been wanting. The next day I left for Ecuador. Another hostel perhaps more fun but in the big world these troubles are nill but just stories.
in quito ecuador
People say it is the Salsa capitol of the world, better than Tibiri Bar in Medellin? Cest la vie, running out of pesos I dashed to the border, another fate of bad company. Nothing worst than having to exchange $100 for a currency you won’t be using in a few days. AtM’s are genius for taking little money but Chase charges $5 and  5% from each Chase ATM out of US. It is robbery! It was either go or get a shit exchange rate on the border. I went. Ecuador is like Colombia but more expensive. I think, I know that the big draw to Ecuador for wanna be expats is the fact the currency is the dollar, otherwise sales tax is like 30% and it doesn’t have the vibe Colombia has, nor value. Silly TV watching population who never traveled- ‘Look they use the dollar! Let’s move!’  ‘It is scenic, the programs announcer is Ecuadorean and speaks English’, and … well… it just doesn’t have the vibe of life.
on the bus to Cuenca, above the cloud line as the sun sets.
In the capitol, again tourist are all safety first, so many damn fear and drama sorts out there… then I met these cats drinking, smokin during the day,( something to do- a miracle)  after returning from the Ministry of Culture, then post office. Painting home and I bored…these 3 young guys and I took to drink, smoke and partake in some illicit goodies hoping in and out of the cabana bar.  Drugs, it seems I have a 20 year cycle, safe to 65. We go back to one cats house at oh 10pm- every mans dream home, loft with balcony overlooking the city- shared toilet no kitchen but everymans dream, oh… and he had the hottest, trampiest 17yr old Ecuadoran girlfriend. Like a girl who is a self proclaimed slut! Says, ‘I have a boyfriend but I like Jimmy too.
bbq guinea pig, taste tough
’ She promised me one better than her if I would stay another day, circling me like a cat, over and over. At her tender age she knew exactly what buttons to push but with the illicit thing, I couldn’t be around it and not do so (even with my head swimming of young love, very adult of me I think) I moved on the next day with some folks I met from the hostel to the Banos. Cool Dutch guy, Daan and vegan Canadian girl. Usually vegan and you think self righteous lesbian but nope she is kinda cool if she was in Canada. Her first time traveling so one could write a book about her. Back to the needy kinda using the female thing for her need to have people take care of her. She buddied up to Daan cause he spoke Spanish. We went to the Banos in the middle of the country to do some biking, swim in waterfalls and relax.
my teachers in Cuenca
We did but my playful manner had me waiting for a bartendette while everyone else went home after the bar. I stayed out all night (of course, thank you) and arrived oh 11am, we had talked the previous day of going to the coast, Daan left me a note said see ya at the coast. Not showered, alittle drunk and famished I paid the hostel, “oh your friend left these things” I took the Canadian girls things and bolted. Coast I heard intermittently it was raining, that Cuenca had a fest going. I wanted some peace from any negative, mistake prone anyone. Still haven’t eaten 3 hours later in the half way point to the coast,  I decide to change my route for Cuenca. Here is the expat capitol of S.America- never met so many prisses in my life. Asses, over talk each other just trying to get another negative point in about their current fears, each trying to patiently  be polite before his woeful story is told. Causes can be a stiff wind, a cloud, loud laughter behind their back, dare say American politics- these stupid pieces of shit one and all come from sunny California. All were roped into the belief that Ecuador would be paradise but they have done little to create such for themselves- we reap what we sow? Just old losers, it is sad. Currency is dollar- the country is overvalued, period. Anywho… in Banos, Colombia I saw this great poncho collection, then a few good ones in the Archeology Museum in Cuenca (also shrunken heads!) so I now have a woody for antique ponchos! I took photos and will head to villages on my way to Peru. Oh and Canadian girl from Banos, Ecuador (banos means hotsprings) picked up her belongings, she came from the coast, of course her wallet was stolen… and with Diego (from the coffee region of Colombia) and two other boys (4), in Peru met again with 8 people!  Safety in numbers I guess. This South America travel is like having training wheels added to the backpack. It is cute watching them stumble.

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banos city in Ecuador
banos city in Ecuador
waterfalls after 20km ride
waterfalls after 20km ride
waiting for the truck back.
waiting for the truck back.
festival, great appreciation for E…
festival, great appreciation for …
shrunken heads in the museum
shrunken heads in the museum
antique poncho
antique poncho
hat factory outside of Cuenca
hat factory outside of Cuenca
hat factory outside of Cuenca
hat factory outside of Cuenca
in quito ecuador
in quito ecuador
on the bus to Cuenca, above the cl…
on the bus to Cuenca, above the c…
bbq guinea pig, taste tough
bbq guinea pig, taste tough
my teachers in Cuenca
my teachers in Cuenca
1,197 km (744 miles) traveled
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