I am in a new country...Ecuador...the problem is every time I think "oh I am in Ecuador" I break out into a mini rave thanks to the 90's tune by Sash!
Before arriving I was losing my travel Mojo...think due to the many 18+ hours bus rides I did to get here...but my Mojo is now back thanks to meeting some cool people on a bus to Banos and only have max 4hr bus rides to endure thanks to the small size of Ecuador.
First stop was Riobamba which is not worth the stop. I was here for the train ride except I got the wrong town for the AMAZING engineering feat of Ecuador so went by train into the mountains but nothing WOW about it. The train to a little village with a misty view of the tallest mountain in Ecuador was essentially something BA Baracas and the A-Team put together...They went into a shed with a truck and a train...put on a battering ram and roof top for sniping and finished with my train! Call me spoilt but having been on trains in Argentina and Peru this was definitely in 3rd place. The A-Team turned into Mad Max as we had these 5 motorcyclists clad in leather with masks following us to block the roads.
Following unsuccessful Riobamba went to successful Banos...essentially a hot spring town with activities galore. It is next to a very active Ecuador volcano...went on a party bus to see this volcano...well the mist meant we couldn't even see 20ft so can't vouch for the volcanic activity!
As I said previously in Peru went for a training run and my legs were still hurting so I decided to go for a massage the hostel was offering...$20 for 1 hour so I was game. First thing with a massage is don't fart so need to keep the cheeks under control. Second thing is keep a memory of Margaret Thatcher in the mind in case things get embarrassing. My face was head down and was nice and relaxing until I heard the sound of rubber gloves...bit kinky and I don't even know Spanish for "extras"...first thought was what are "safe words" in Spanish to get me out of this mess!! Luckily nothing untoward happened and think they were used due to the fingers having bobbling for exfoliation. By coincidence "Chariots of Fire" came on the radio as she was working my legs. To make things worse she then used gloves to finish me off (not like that!!) rather than her hands like I had some sort of skin rash. Despite all this felt relaxed and rejuvenated with my legs ready for the next beating...cycling the next day in the rain through the canyon.
Luckily the cycling was easy and downhill that passed many waterfalls which was great to get up close and personal to but call me a snob but when you get under the Iguazu Falls nothing compares!!
Next stop Latagunga for some glaciers and volcanoes...as you can tell I am in a rush due to a flight tomorrow to the Galapagos! Did an acclimatisation trek to the Quilotoa lake at c.4000m which was a stunning blue/green/azure colour despite the intermittent rain. The following day I was going to summit Cotopaxi which at 5900m is higher than Kilimanjaro...although you drive to 4500m so kind of cheating. Due to the poor success rate and poor weather (ie no visibility) I just went to 5000m to see the start of the glacier. This volcano erupted in 1905 and erupts every 100 years so watch out if you visit soon!!
Now I like ticking boxes and getting to 5000m is an interesting box that I have now ticked...I have been higher than Mount Everest!! Due to the curvature of the Earth the glacier on Cotopaxi is further from centre of Earth than Everest...surely the true measure of any mountain and summit!! Now I am no Stephen Hawkings (no comments!) but if Everest is 8900m above sea level and I was at 5000m yet further from the Earth core...does this mean all the water moves from the Ecuador to the poles??? Surely gravity has a part to play??? One for the boffins to explain! (By the way if my logic is rubbish and I am going loco then blame not working for 7 months!!)
Next up in Graham Physics lesson...which way does the water flush when using the toilet at the Equator??? (Don't worry won't show photo evidence!)
Final stop of this Ecuador section was Quito. The amazing thing is that you use the PanAmerican Highway to get here...if I went South would end up in Ushuaia, Argentina and North would be Alaska, USA...bizarre!!
Another city...another stat...second highest capital in the world with the 2nd longest cable car to the nearby volcano! Was also the first UNESCO city! Love a factoid!!
Despite its sometimes dangerous reputation it isn't a bad city although weather hasn't been kind. The only thing dangerous about it so far was me climbing the metal staircase to the Basilica tower in a lightning shower in flip-flops!! The old town is nice with old cobbled streets and balconied houses/mansions.