My trip here in Ecuador is winding down. Just a few days left to check out some sites in the northern part of the country.
Quito is an amazing city and I spent 48 hours with my friend Jan exploring most small corners in the city. By far my favorite thing I did in Quito was just wandering and walk and soak in the sites and sounds of the country’s capital.
I dig all the old historical churches, they are such grounding sights, building blocks for this entire culture.
We just simply don’t have these types of sacred buildings to remind us where we came from, humble beginnings and what is important.
As lovely as this city can be, I needed to get out in the lush green one more time before hopping on a flight.
My friend Jan was content to do some more shopping, so I decided to take an excursion on my own – big surprise right? I’m an easy solo traveler – of course it helps that I can muddle through the language alright!
I decided to make the 2 hour trip to a tiny town northwest of Quito on the way to the coast. Up at 6am, I needed to grab a bus (25 cents) to the main bus terminal so i could get out of town.
Can I just say, I love riding the bus – anywhere. I do it all the time in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. I feel I really get to interact with people. This bus was packed full of people I think trying to escape for a Sunday of fun.
I’ve realized that angels on earth come in all different shapes and sizes. The one this morning that I encountered was this tiny Ecuadorian lady, must have been 60 or older.
I simply asked her which bus to take, she grabbed my hand (literally) and helped me cross the street, talk to the gentlemen, pay and got me in the right line, all the while, smiling like she knew a secret I didn’t.
Her kindness radiated through her entire aura. An angel from above.
I was lucky enough to grab a seat for the 45-minute ride out to the bus terminal. Many people were dressed up and heading for church. Little kids in the cutest dresses, dads with one kid hanging off their neck, the other on their lap and all so happy. Latin American countries are so good to their kids, I just love it.
You know what also impresses me? The chilvary. Every Latin country I’ve visited, it’s always the same. You really see it on the bus. An older woman or woman with child hops on and about 10 guys get up and offer their seat. It’s how it should be, respect for the other sex. Warms my heart.
Another 2 hour bus ride down winding narrow roads got me to this tiny mountain town, about half way from Quito to the coast and right around 5-thousand feet.
I had heard about all sorts of waterfalls which I wanted to see. I also had heard that this was the best spot to take in Mariposas – butterflies!!!
I had about 6 hours to see all i could before hopping the bus back to Quito to get my flight home. I went directly to the Tourist Information center and bargained with them to rent a bike for the day ($5) so I could make it out to the trailhead and back in time.
This thing was in the worst shape, no front brakes and one pedal was about to fall off – but damn the little kid who dropped it off was cute, about 5 riding this big bike down the hill to deliver it to me. It made me smile from the inside out and I gladly handed this young biz man my money.
Quite a few of the locals thought I was crazy to try to ride the dirt road up to the waterfall trailhead (cascada in Spanish.) I have to agree, it was a lot steeper and harder than I thought, especially on my “caballo enfermo” – sick horse is what I called my borrowed bike
Before I headed out of town, I stopped by this wonderfully cute restaurant called “Choco Arte” which is owned by an American woman and her Ecuadorian boyfriend. We got in the best conversation about yummy chocolate and all sorts of other random topics.
She made me a wonderful veg sandwich to take on my excursion. I bought some of their first attempt at making chocolate too!
The bike ride to the trailhead was filled with lots of sweat and singing. I kind of do that when I’m suffering on a bike. I try to get a tune in my head and just grind it out – but walking was involved in the process.
I should have just hiked and planned on hitching a ride, but what the hell, didn’t want to take my chances. I decided not to do the canopy cruise this time around – but I will definitely go back for the zip line extravaganza. Instead I wanted to hike on my own.
Down a gorgeous wet trail. I came to an opening filled with people – all Ecuadorians – which I relished in. This is where the locals go for fun!
I watched some of the most crazy jumps into the waterfall. I mean, I’m all for adrenaline rushes.. but this sucker was waaaaay high!
I didn’t even consider it at first, till the owner of the area gave me a good pep talk in Spanish.
I then thought, oh I will convince another girl to do it with me.
She was game – we both were – until we got to the top.
I just couldn’t step off the ledge – like 45-50 feet up!! First time in a very long time that I couldn’t throw caution to the wind and just live in the moment. It made me laugh a lot.
There was a huge crowd with two scared chicks to watch. After about 15 minutes I admitted defeat – this time. I promise to be back and to take the Cascada Nambillo on at another date. I think I need to work up to it!
Still it was so fun to watch big families enjoying nature so much. I sat and ate my lunch and just watched people play! I felt a very strong connection to this town in Ecuador, the entire area is calling me back – and I will return.
The bike ride back down was killer – and sketchy. Again no front brakes, sh*tty back brakes and a very “iffy” back tire… but tons of fun whipping through the mud.
Once back in town I found a nice little restaurant for acelebratory beer. Beer always tastes better after being out in nature. I don’t usually like light beer but Pilsner is their national beer and it is easily available in big, big bottles.
I met the owner of the place, a nice old man from Colombia who filled me in on the town. Not many gringos live in town – unlike Vilcabamba… but lots of Europeans.
The town feels very young because they have very young girls getting pregnant which he felt was a huge problem. It made sense since I had seen so many cute kids rolling around, except I thought that was their sister holding them, not their mom.
Like most pueblas in Ecuador, the town square is the place to hang and watch the day go by, surrounded by many little cute restaurants and stores. It felt great to try the town on for a day – felt good in the soul.
It made me wonder what business I could start that would keep me happy in this area. There are already more than 60 hotels/hostals/hosterias. It is a huge weekend getaway for rich families in Quito – by car 1 & 1/2 hours.
I put the thought in the back of my head. I need to go back to the states for a couple months before I truly jump south and try South America living on for a bit. Excited to do so – that is for sure and Ecuador is calling me from deep within!