Thursday, October 21, 2010


We’ve made it!!! We are back in Ecuador, currently in Quito. We met with our immigration attorney, Gabriela Espinosa on Monday to turn over our passports so that they can be stamped with our residency visas. We were supposed to go today to get our Censos and Cedulas started, but we received a call from Gabriela’s office informing us that the immigration office is closed today and so we will be going tomorrow instead.
In the meantime, we have been enjoying the sites around Quito while we wait to get to the government offices.
On Monday afternoon, we took the cable car up to the top of Pichincha mountain, which is on the outskirts of Quito. It is 12,000+ feet high. The view from there of Quito is incredible. It was a cloudy day, so the picture is a bit hazy, but you can get the idea that Quito is quite big.
On Tuesday, we took a long day and went to Otavalo, Peguche, San Pablo Lake, Cotacachi, and Cuicochi Lake . We had a wonderful guide, Marco, who has been studying English intensely for just three months, and he speaks very well already. We have had some wonderful days with Marco, starting with the afternoon to Pichincha.
Otovalo Market:
Humming bird roof church in Oavalo. Ecuador has about 130 species of hummingbirds, representing about 30% of all hummingbird species in the world.
I was cold and wanted to buy a poncho while we were in Oltavalo. But, we didn’t bring much money with us because we did not intend to buy anything. Our suitcases are already full, and we don’t have any more room to carry anything. I didn’t get my poncho though, because we saw these paintings on feathers that were so beautiful and we had to have them. This is the artist, Luis, with the birds we bought. We later discovered some of these in some storefront widows by different artists, so it’s probably a common art form here. But, Luis’s were much better executed than the ones in the window.
Cotacachi, known for its leather goods. Get a load of how pretty these streets are.
San Pablo Lake with the beautiful mountain rising above the clouds. I think this is Cotapaxi volcano, but I’m not certain. Anyway, it was a beautiful sight!
This is another mountain on the shores of Lake San Pablo.
We next went to Peguche waterfalls. Stunning!
Our final stop on Tuesday was to Cuicocha Lake. Cui (cuy) means guinea pig in Kechua. The two humped dome in the middle of this volcanic lake (evidently there is still an active volcano under the lake), looks like a guinea pig. Hence, guinea pig lake. The lake is 600 feet deep, and sits in a collapsed volcanic dome.
And here is our wonderful guide, Marco, at Cuicacha Lake. This is not the best picture of Marco – he’s quite handsome. But you can get an idea of his delightful personality from this picture.
Imbabura volcano. Elevation, 15,000+ feet.
On Wednesday, we went to the Equator. It was a fascinating visit. Here, is the actual middle of the world.
World explorers discover the true equator and straddle the line with one foot in each hemisphere.
The equator was thought to be approximately 200 yards further south, but recent GIS technology discovered its exact location in this spot. We were shown some amazing experiments here at the equator. You all know about water switching from swirling counterclockwise down a drain in the northern hemisphere to clockwise down the drain in the southern hemisphere. Well, at the equator, it drops straight down. We were shown the straight drop, and then moving just a few feet on either side of the equator, we watched the water change its swirl. It has to do with the centrifugal force of the spinning earth.
Also, you can balance an egg on its end on the head of a nail at the equator because right on the line, there is no force pulling the egg in either direction, and gravity (going straight down) allows you to balance it. I balanced the egg on the nail, and got a certificate of achievement. Ha! Ha!
Another experiment had us stand on the equator line and hold our hands straight out with thumbs up and try to “walk the line” toe-to-toe with our eyes closed. You can’t do it. The centrifugal force pulls you from each side. I actually could feel the force just by lifting my arms out, even before closing my eyes or trying to walk. It’s amazing that there are such pronounced effects right on the equatorial line.
 And here's the best part.  At the equator, you weight approximately 1 kilo less.  That's approximately 2.2 pounds!  
Balancing an egg at the equator:
This is the “fauxquator.” This is where they used to think the equator was located before they were able to use sophisticated military GIS technology to locate the exact spot. All of those experiments won’t work here.
Llama at the equator. “Look at me. Yes, yes, I’m so beautiful. Don’t you wish you had my eyelashes.”
After the stop at the equator, we took a trip up to Pululahua volcano crater. It is now fertile farmland.
Then it was time for lunch. We begged Marco to take us to a favorite restaurant of his. Someplace he loves to go, where most tourists would not visit. Marco doesn’t like the Ecuadorean delicacy so we weren’t expecting to eat any of these for lunch.
Instead, he took us here, where we had the most wonderful ceviche!!! Just fabulous!! And not another tourist in sight. Just a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant with amazing food.
And finally, here is the view from our hotel window.
Tomorrow, to the government offices with one of our attorney’s staff to get our Censos and Cedulas. Wish us luck. We are expecting (and have been told by our attorney to expect) to wait five or six hours there. We'll be taking some books to read.