The last few weeks we’ve not had great wifi. We’ve spent most of our evenings fighting to get daily pictures uploaded to Instagram and organizing/booking future travel plans. While those posts are looking pretty good and the next couple of legs of our trip are organized, we’ve become a bit lazy in our blog updates.
That said, we’re now in locations with better wifi and it’s our intent to more regularly update the blog.This travelling stuff is hard.
But not as hard as shovelling the 60 cm of snow at home!! Wait, sorry, too soon?!
Now, we left off at Otavalo about to embark on our Ecuadorian road trip. With one day of driving under our belt I was feeling pretty confident. We made it back to Quito with only two unintended detours which were seriously not our fault. Ecuador is upgrading a number of their highways and a recent construction closure hadn’t yet been captured by Google Maps. The aforementioned game of find-the-sign-where’s-the-turn was in full effect. We even made it to the Quito bypass to completely avoid the city - much to Jody’s delight!
Heading south on the Avenue of Volcanos (the main highway to reach lower Ecuador) we were able to count all of the major mountains until Latacunga. Seeing a couple of these with snow on the top was quite impressive. The girls said they hadn’t seen snow since December 29th and didn’t expect it since we were so close to the equator. These are some seriously high volcanos at 5000m+. The most impressive was Cotapaxi - a textbook perfect shape and snow-covered at the top third. We stopped to get a better view and saw a few of the expedition tours that take hard-core climbers to the staging area where they attempt to summit the volcano. We got back in the car.
I originally picked Latagunga as an overnight stay because I didn’t know what to expect from Ecuadorian roads and was concerned everyone would be a bit tired of sitting in the car. However, the roads are a good standard (for the most part - more later) and it only took three hours to get there. We had a family confab to decide whether or not we should stay or push on to Banos. It came down to seeing if we could get out of paying for the night; if so, we’d keep going. The hostel we chose was a little out of the way and not much to look at from the outside. The girls were a bit reticent with this hostel-thing and voiced, again, their preference for moving on. Catering primarily to that volcano-expedition crowd, my first impression was that we wouldn’t fit in. I agreed and thought heading to Banos would be our best option. However, chatting with the friendly manager (Eduardo - who had a poster of himself in full climbing gear atop Cotapaxi behind his desk) said we’d still have to pay regardless. That settled it - we’d suck it up for a night and move on to Banos the next morning.
It turned out to be a great unintentional decision!
While not full, the hostel had nearly a dozen of French and Argentinian backpackers. As a Canadian family with two young girls in tow we certainly stood out from the crowd. Hanging out where the next age bracket is at least ten years your junior, you feel a bit self-conscious. We quickly got over that. After dropping off bags in our private room (including an ensuite and bunkbeds for the girls), we headed to the roof-top common area for some school work and travel planing. People were friendly and chatty. When we had the room to ourselves, we introduced the girls to pool and played some Jenga. After dinner, the common room started to fill up and the decibel level started to rise. Meghan wanted to play pool again and wondered how she and Avery might get the table. I told them back-in-my-day we put a loonie on the edge of the table so we could play the winner. Being a loonie-free country and shyness setting in, she hummed and hawed about how she could play. Avery, both intrepid and fed-up with her sister’s indecision, walked up to the young French guys at the table and asked if they were finished playing. They happily gave up the table and the girls started to play. Way to go Avery!
A little while later, Alex the Frenchman asked to play with the girls. I joined in and we paired off into two teams. Having imbibed, I suspect Alex was a little chattier than usual but he was great with the girls. They learned about his home country, where he travelled in Columbia and his experience in having his bag and passport stolen along the way. Aghast but intrigued, several weeks later, Alex still comes up.
As the first ‘real’ introduction to life in a hostel - the girls loved it. Much to our relief.
The next morning, we got up, had breakfast and made our way down to Banos. They asked if the next hostel would be just like this one.
We’re trekkers now!!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).