A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Ils1976

Otavalo and a little bit more

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Surprisingly enough I slept quite alright and although I woke up a few times around 3 and 5 AM, when our alarm clock finally went off at 6.30  AM, I was quite awake and ready to start the day!

After we've got a more than delicious breakfast with all the necessary nutrients, it was time to pack all of our stuff and visit the beautiful town of Otavalo of which its centre was only a 15 minutes bus ride away. The town itself isn’t the biggest one of the country, but it is well known for its crafts and textiles markets, so what can I say, we had to visit them!

Together with our tour leader Freddy, our entire group was dropped of at the central park of the town, from where we had a nice view on the San Luis Church as well as the monument of Ruminahui, the resistance hero of the Indian people. Since we did came here to do some market shopping, we skipped the architecture and monument sights all together and walked straight to the food market, where we arrived just a few minutes later.


Although we arrived pretty early, I must say that I was a bit surprised to see so little people at the market, but on the other hand, it was a wednesday, maybe people weren’t in the mood to do some food shopping in the middle of the week, whatever the case, it didn’t stop Tania and me from walking through one row after another and discover all the known and unknown veggies and meats which were for sale.


I have to admit that some of it looked very yummy, other things I don’t even have a clue of what they were and some of it didn’t look all that appealing as well, but that didn’t stop the both of us of trying some fried bugs which surprisingly enough didn’t taste all that bad, maybe there is a future for the bug burger!

It must have been more than half an hour later when we met up with the rest of our group and together we walked towards “plaza de los ponchos” where you can still find loads of textiles and other stuff that tourists like so much. Since we were given some free time, the two of us decided to walk around and have a closer look at the goodies which were on sale. While I was looking for a cap for one of my drivers back home, Tania decided to do some poncho shopping as well and actually scored a very nice one. 


After all that walking around, we both got a bit tired and decided to end a perfect morning with a nice cup of coca tea, how I missed this so much!

Time flies when you are having fun and as soon as we were all together again as one group, we slowly walked towards our tourbus, ready for the next stop on our agenda today, which was going to be a visit to a family who till this day still makes those typical heads they wear in the Otavalo region. It was the first time ever I have seen someone “produce” a hat and they earn my utmost respect, it is hard work to make it, that’s for sure.

From the hat making family, we went on the bus again and drove through Otavalo countryside till we reached Cotacachi, an artisan town famous for its leather goods and I must admit, they sure know their prices. There is just no way that locals can afford these goods and I guess the whole town relies on tourists, but still, luckily they not only have shops with leather inside, a few blocks away from the main street there is a small park with a picturesque church as well, but since we didn’t had too much free time, we just had a quick look around town before we were on our merry way again towards our next stop.

Peguche is a small indian town situated a few minutes north of Otavalo. The locals here are very much known not only for their weaving and handicrafts, but for being very good musicians as well. It goes without saying that our group was going to visit such a family, this being an organized tour and all, but not before we were invited to have lunch in a local eatery which is specialized in serving guinea pig or “cuy” like they call it here in the country.


I must admit that I was looking forward to eating this speciality, but instead we only got a taste of it and maybe it was for the better coz the piece I got wasn’t all that yummy. Maybe the “cuy” was roasted too much, I don’t particularly know, but it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea so to speak, I’d rather had eaten a few more bugs, they tasted better than the guinea pig!

Besides food, the restaurant had provided a local band as well. Of course, this all sounds like “tourist trap” from miles away, but still, it was fun and I just didn’t mind one bit, I was on holiday and enjoyed every minute of it. 

Just next to the restaurant, we had one last family visit of who certain members of the family were not only musicians, but great artists in making flutes, panpipes, guitars and other things which bring forth music as well. In less than 5 minutes one guy “produced” a small pan flute and even made music on it, quite impressive and so much easier than making a hat, if I was living here, I certainly know which profession I would choose!

Sadly enough, after enjoying a bit of music for the very last time today, we had to go and as we said our goodbyes to the Otavalo region, we drove off on the Pan American highway again in the direction of Quito, where we arrived a few hours later, ready to check in to our hotel for the next 2 upcoming nights.

While the sun was already setting, the both of us decided to discover the neighborhood of our hotel on our own rather than joining the group and our tourleader for dinner and thanks to the good advice of the Lonely Planet, we found a nice Mexican joint, not all that far from our hotel which served a very yummy burrito.

Since it was still a bit early to go to sleep, we walked through several streets only to find out that we were surrounded by loads of restaurants, bars and disco’s, so this meant that sleeping was going to be quite a challenge, which we actually found out a couple of hours later when we were back in our room.

After a quick shower, I turned to my laptop to let the homefront know that I had "survived" the flight and was still alive and kicking and by the time it was 11 PM, I turned of my light while Tania was still reading her mails and for some reason I went to sleep straight away coz I never saw her turning of her light.

Posted by Ils1976 07:59 Archived in Ecuador Tagged churches people food monument history bus market town walk friends fun music tour colors south_america colonial crafts local_delicacies Comments (0)

back home again!

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Surprisingly enough, I really slept and this for me, was the first time ever without the help of a little bit of alcohol. The only thing I can think of was the fact that I was really knackered and while it was still dark outside, trying to close my eyes and going for a second power nap was out of the question, so instead I just went for a stretch of the legs and a chat with a few members of our group till it was time for breakfast to arrive.

While I skipped it all together, I did however asked for a bit of hot water and enjoyed my oatmeal while watching the rest of the movie “the Seventh Son” and what can I say, it is an action movie and that’s about it. Nothing more and nothing less, pure entertainment and that’s about it.

Although we still had a little bit more than an hour before we arrived back at Schiphol, it was just too short for another movie, so instead I went for a documentary of one of my favorite persons, Sir David Attenborough and my favorite animal, the orangutan and watched those gorgeous creatures till it was time to land.

Once back on the ground again, reality really hit me that our holiday was finally over and 3 weeks once again went by so very fast. As we headed out for our luggage, we said our goodbyes to our group members and went for one last cup of our traditional coffee at Starbucks before we went on the lookout for our transfer bus, which was going to take us back to the hotel where Tania’s car was parked and where we arrived about an hour later.

As soon as we were handed the keys, we went for one last “technical stop” before our road trip towards Belgium could begin. Although it was still early in the afternoon, traffic was already quite terrible and after driving for a couple of hours, we finally reached Tania’s home a little after 5 PM.

Needless to say, it was a joy to see my loved ones back and as we drove back home, I started telling about all the adventures I went through the last couple of weeks. Nothing was left out, not even the bad things like the itches and the scratches of the insects and although there were some negative things, mainly thinking about our tour guide and our last day trip, all was quickly forgotten by loads of positive things and as we drove up our driveway, I was already thinking and planning about trips to come ... what can I say, I am a travel addict!

Posted by Ils1976 00:27 Archived in Belgium Comments (2)

final hours

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6.30 AM sounds enormously early, especially on a last day with a possibility to sleep in, but since me and Tania wanted to make the most of it here on the island, we just jumped out of our beds, got dressed as quickly as we could and made sure all of our things were packed for our leave within a few hours.

Although breakfast wasn’t officially being served, we still managed to get a cup of tea as well as a toast and at this point, this was more than enough for me. Usually I am a big fan of breakfast and for me, this is the most important meal of the day, but today the prospect of wandering around town was more tempting so instead of waiting for more food to arrive, we just made sure we had our essentials (read camera and good mood) and on the move we went.

With only a few hours left, we still wanted to see the Charles Darwin Research Centre which is located just outside the towns centre and although it felt like we were the only two out here, as soon as we arrived at the small fish market, we couldn’t have been more wrong.


A handful of people were already quite busy with bringing fish on land as well as cleaning it and this of course made for such a funny view when we noticed a few sea lions and loads of pelicans making loud noises in order to get some yummy intestines. I know, how on earth can you dig something like this early in the morning, but looking at these guys it was like battling for the best piece of the fish. It was such a joy watching daily life going on, but if we wanted to see the Research Centre we had to move along and with the promise to the birds that we were coming back, we were on the move again, only to arrive at the Centre about 15 minutes later and to our luck, we were the first ones to enter and register.

Since there were some maintenance works going on, we couldn’t enter the Tortoise Breeding Centre as well as other scientific stations, but a visit to the small rocky beach with an awesome view on the harbor was allowed and as soon as we said our last goodbyes to the beautiful marine iguanas, we had one last view on the many turtles which they keep here in the Centre in the hope that one day a true breed of the Galapagos Giant turtle will rise again. I am sure that many years will pass, but hopefully in the end they manage coz to be honest, they are truly a joy for the eye.


As soon as we were back on our way again towards the hotel after saying goodbye to the friendly guards of the Centre, it really hit me that in just an hour we were going to leave this beautiful place behind. Although our visit here at the islands was but a short one, this is one place I will never ever forget and I can only hope that one day I can return, but in the meantime I  am just happy with the experiences of the last couple of days.

Passing the fish market again, we had once again a quick look and were surprised that although the fish was already cleaned and ready to sell, the clients were none less than the birds and the lions. I guess it was still a bit too early for us humans, but I was sure that within an hour all this was going to change, so as we said our silent goodbyes to the animals, we were back on our way towards the hotel where we arrived a few minutes later.

Almost our entire group was packed and ready to go and while Tania went inside our room to get our bags, I began to ask some of our members of our group about their experience yesterday and to my surprise it seemed that I wasn’t the only one missing money … it seemed that my bad thoughts about the crew yesterday weren’t so wrong and while a few of them wanted to make a complaint, I was just glad it was but a bit of money. I know it wasn’t the best experience of the trip, but at least I learned my lesson and never ever am I going to take money with me again on a boat … from now on I stick to plastic!

Right on time, the tourbus of the travel agency arrived to pick us up and drove us all through the island, so that we could catch our boat towards Baltra, the island where the airport is situated and while we enjoyed the last rays of sun and hot air, we finally had to say goodbye to the islands and went straight for the check in.

Things go very slow on the islands and not that I mind one bit, but when even the computers fail to work, than you get an angry crowd. Maybe this was just a sign saying that we had to stay, but after waiting in line for almost an hour, we finally could check in and although our plane was about the leave in minutes, me and my travel buddy still went on the lookout for some food, after all, it was a two hours flight and the clock already turned noon, food was no option, it was a necessity.

With only minutes to spare, we made it to the gate and as soon as we could board, we were on our way towards the plane. As soon as everyone got to their assigned seat, we were good to go and although we had to wait a very long time at the check in, as soon as we were seated, it was nothing else but smooth sailing.

2 hours, a few snacks and watching some funny movies later, we finally arrived back in Guayaquil, where we had a 4 hour layover. Since this is but a small airport, there was not much to do than going for a bite to eat, doing some window-shopping in the few shops and find yourself a seat and wait for your plane to arrive … seems simple, but a bit boring as well and while we still needed to wait for an hour, me and Tania decided to do something different. While I went for the shoulder and head massage, which was awesome by the way, my friend went for a relaxing foot massage and both feeling a bit rejuvenated, we were minutes away from boarding the plane which was going to bring us back home again.

Feeling a bit sad, I got into the plane and went on the lookout for my seat, which was almost in the back of the plane. As it was already quite dark, we couldn’t see that much when we left the country behind us and I quickly resorted to looking for some movies to watch. The first one I choose was “Big Game”, a story about a young Finnish teenager who is camping in the woods and helps rescue the president of the USA when Air Force One is shot down near his campsite. Maybe it's hard to believe that something like this would happen in real live, but nevertheless it was a beautiful movie about a heroic youngster who doesn’t want to disappoint his father … it almost brought tears to my eyes.

Although it was almost midnight, after having a light meal consisting out of noodles, I still went for a second movie which was “the Seventh Son” and although this being a fantasy action movie and all, I soon dozed off to dreamland.

Posted by Ils1976 00:25 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

discovering South Plaza Island

View Ecuador & Galapagos ... me gusta mucho! - 2015 on Ils1976's travel map.

As soon as our alarm clock went off early in the morning, I suddenly realized that our holiday is slowly coming to an end as this was our last full day here on the island and in South America as well.

Three weeks had gone by so very fast but these were worries for another day, we were still here on this beautiful island and since we still had a complete day to discover nothing but beautiful things, I was more than eager to make the best of it.

In the beginning of our holiday we booked a very expensive day trip towards South Plaza island and after waiting for almost three weeks, we were more than curious what to expect. According to the lady of the travel agency back in Quito, we were going to see nothing but beautiful things which were nowhere else to be found except on this island and maybe three weeks back we believed everything she said, nowadays we already have a suspicious feeling when someone says something like that but all things aside, I was still more than curious to see the land iguanas since they were the only ones on my list which I still hadn’t seen yet … so today had to be that day!

Breakfast was being served at 8 AM and although it was very basic, it was more than suitable and after taking for the very last time "my always so important sea sickness pill”, I was more than ready for a day on the water. Our guide and captain of the day arrived at 8.30 AM and with him a small tourist bus as well, but unlike the comfortable busses we had all during our trip on the mainland, this school bus was all but comfy and seeing that the roads here on the island weren’t always paved, we were in for one hell of a bumpy ride but of course … that made things more than exciting as well.

When we left Puerto Ayora early in the morning, it was still raining, but by the time we arrived at the port on the other side of the island which was about an hour later, the weather changed for the better and by the time we got out of the bus, it was already pretty hot.

Although we had to wait for a while for our dingy to arrive, as soon as we were on it, we were on our way towards our boat, which turned out to be a bit more modern than the “lancha” which we experienced a day ago. As soon as we set foot on the boat, our captain immediately screamed that we had to put out our shoes. Maybe this is something very important when going on a boat, but for the love of God, there are better ways expressing yourself than by screaming, after all, it is not like we were little kids.


When each and everyone of our group was finally on board, we got the simple instruction to sit down and off we were towards South Plaza Island or Isla Plaza Sur as it is called by the locals.


I don’t exactly know how long we were sailing and from time to time, I even dozed off but I am sure it couldn’t have been more than an hour when we finally arrived at the island with the sun shining bright upon our face. Upon our arrival at Plaza Sur, our captain just give us five minutes to prepare ourselves for the walk on the island and together with screaming nothing else but instructions to bring only water, a camera and a hat on the island, we were as good to go as we would ever be.

I must admit that for the first time during this trip I just wished I was somewhere else instead and I guess I wasn’t the only one thinking this. One of our group members earlier in the morning described our captain like a bald villain in a James Bond movie and although at the time we laughed about it, maybe he wasn’t so wrong after all!

As soon as we got on the island, I must admit that I was more than impressed with the vegetation which is called “sesuvium" and to me it looked a bit like the succulents at home, only these ones were more than colorful. Besides these beautiful plants, there were amazing examples of a pear cactus tree as well, but the bonus of the day were definitely the iguanas hiding from the sun underneath these trees. On our last day here on the islands, I finally got the see those incredible land iguanas and since yellow is one of my favorite colors, I can’t but state that these animals were my most favorite ones of this entire holiday and I couldn’t agree more with the saying : “safe the best for last”!


South Plaza Island isn’t exactly the biggest islet of them all, but it definitely is worth a visit not only because of its incredible flora but for its birdlife as well coz when we finally reached a cliff on one side of the islet, we just saw one bird species after another. Although we only spend an hour on it, once we got back on the boat again, I was glad to be in the shade coz it was definitely a hot day today. Luckily we were on the water, so that there was some kind of breeze, otherwise I would definitely have had a bad case of sunburn.


As soon as the entire group was back on board again, the staff prepared us some lunch, but for some reason we only got 15 minutes to eat it all and still not sure what was going on, before we actually got a clue, we were sailing again towards the spot were we were supposed to go snorkeling.

I guess we were sailing for about half an hour when we arrived at our snorkeling spot and once again we were treated like we were in some kind of military school. I’ve never in my life seen 20 people go so quick into the water like we did and I guess we even must be proud coz I think we are holding a record!

Unlike our snorkeling trip around Los Lobos, this time we saw the same fish, but for some reason the water wasn’t so clear and even the materials we got from our crew on board weren’t exactly the best … not that I complain easily, but when you get broken flippers … I guess it is time to change things … or am I wrong!?

We went into the water in record time and I guess the same goes for getting out of it. Although they promised enough time to snorkel, for some reason a few crew members followed us with the dingy, but not to help people in trouble … no, that’s not why it is there for … the dingy was used to keep us together and if people were tired, they'd just had to swim back towards the boat and this really said it all. I had never in my entire life seen such unfriendly people and I guess that in a way they really were villains.

After being not more than half an hour in the water, our entire group was back on the boat again and as soon as we changed into our clothes again, we were well on our way again to the harbor where we arrived about half an hour later … by the time we were all in the bus again and back at our hotel it was a little after 4 PM … we were flabbergasted and not in the right way!!!!

One thing me and Tania learned on this day … never ever go for a trip which is organized by a travel agency you know nothing about!

This aside, as soon as we arrived back at our room, we dropped of our gear and swimmers and walked straight back to the harbor. Although we didn’t had much time left, Tania still wanted to go and see Tortuga Bay, which is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches on Santa Cruz.


Since we didn’t want to walk all the way towards the entrance of the beach, we went by taxi and once we were registered, coz we were entering a NP after all, we were good to go and followed the very, very long walking trail all the way towards the beach, which was completely empty due to the late hour. Although we didn’t had much time to spare, we still enjoyed the most of it, but after half an hour admiring the water and the sand, we had to go back otherwise there might be a chance they were going to lock us up behind the gate and this was not something we were looking for!

Although it started to get darker and darker once we arrived back at the entrance of the beach, we decided to walk all the way back to the harbor of Puerto Ayora, which on itself was quite an interesting evening walk. From all that walking, we really worked up an appetite and since this was our last day, the both of us wanted to celebrate this in style and went for the best restaurant we could think of. Since we didn’t had much food all day long, we not only went for a delicious soup and a main course but for a dessert as well. We really had such a great time that by the time I wanted to pay the bill, I really got thunderstruck!

Not entirely sure what happened, I seemed to miss about 20 dollars in our mutual holiday wallet which me and Tania keep. Still not entirely sure what I was seeing and that I counted wrong, I checked my own wallet and guess what … I am missing 20 dollars as well … what the hell???? 
The only thing the both of us could think of was the fact that the money was stolen during our day trip on the island, but for some reason I felt bad about it coz I am not a person who accuses someone easily. If you can’t say for sure, you can’t point a finger but still, this wasn’t the most pleasant moment of the entire evening. Could our crew be that bad???

Loads of questions still remained in the back of my mind and although we went for another walk to clear our heads, by the time we were back into our hotel room and managed to pack all of our stuff, it was already way past 12 PM and more than time to go to sleep coz the both of us were going to have an early start tomorrow!

Posted by Ils1976 01:46 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

crossing islands

View Ecuador & Galapagos ... me gusta mucho! - 2015 on Ils1976's travel map.

Promptly at 8 AM in the morning our alarm clock went off and although I was more than interested to see how Santa Cruz was like, the prospect of getting there with a local “lancha” was something completely different. For some reason I am not that great with boats, the water I don’t mind so much, but boats are not really my thing and as soon as I went to breakfast, I noticed that the staff had prepared some eggs … for heaven’s sake, who gives people eggs when they are about to cross a wild sea … this is not good, not good at all!

Because I didn’t want to look unthankful, I just ate a little bit of the egg, but for once during this trip, I wisely enough decided to eat not that much unlike a few others from our group and just hoped that the sea sickness pill I was about to have, will do his magical trick!

With still a bit of time to spare before our pick-up at the hotel, I decided to take things slow and went in some kind of trance hoping that I wouldn’t get sea sick, while Tania wanted to have one last look at the harbor and the local sea lion population and before we knew it was time to leave this island behind us.

Before we could leave, we still had to undergo some serious control at the harbor and although it sounded a bit ridiculous to most of us, here on the islands, people are serious when it concerns the protection of the local fauna and flora and not only our luggage underwent some serious investigation, even our shoes needed to be “screened” as well. 

As soon as we all got cleared, we needed to bring our own luggage on board before we could board ourselves and unlike the cozy small boat we had yesterday, today we were “lucky” enough to sail out on a old looking boat with not too much ventilation … this was just disaster waiting to happen and not only half an hour later, my nightmare became true as the first member of our group got really sea sick!

24 people in a small boat with no fresh air is basically my worst nightmare and although I knew this was going to be my home for the next upcoming 2 hours, the only thing left for me was to close my eyes and say my mantra over and over again! 

Amazingly enough this worked out for me and although I was more than happy to set foot again on solid ground, I was just so glad that unlike a few others of our group, I didn’t get sea sick. After a few hours spending some time in a local “lancha” or speedboat as they call it, I was so glad to breath fresh air again … I made it and more importantly, I survived the roughed sea … yeah me!

Upon our arrival in Santa Cruz, we left the sunny weather behind us as well, as it was raining cats and dogs from the moment we set foot on the island. In a way this was just a shame and as soon as we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we drove onwards to the centre of the island for another highland tour while in the meantime I hoped the weather would clear up but sadly enough as soon as we arrived at our first stop, it kept on raining.

Los Gemelos, which literally means “twins” in Spanish, are two large craters that were once underground magma chambers. When the magma chambers caved in, they left two huge impressive looking craters and although the weather wasn’t all that good, in a way it made sure you got some kind of spooky feel when you walked around the edge of the crater with loads of fog surrounding it.



As we left the craters behind us, we went for that other highlight here at the island, as we visited a local tortoise breeding centre. Hungry upon arrival, the staff of the centre prepared us some lunch and as soon as we got rid of that feeling, we could go for a small walk. Our guide first divided our group into 2 before she showed us a lava tunnel and told us a little bit more about this phenomenon. As soon as we saw daylight again, we went on the look for that other interesting animal here on the island, the Galapagos Giant turtle and although they look a little bit different than the species on San Cristobal, they are just as cute and they didn’t left us feeling disappointed.


Once we arrived back in Puerto Ayora, the sun was already setting, but Tania and I still wanted to see what the town had to offer and for us this were the pelicans who were fishing near the harbor. For the first time ever, we saw this bird from up close and I was so amazed to see that even when it got darker and darker, he still managed to get his food … this bird really has a good set of eyes, that’s for sure.

By the time it was 8 PM, the both of us went on the lookout for some food as well and ended up at a local Italian restaurant which served surprisingly enough a good pasta. 

Since the night was still young, the both of us just went for a bit of souvenir shopping, but besides loads of looking, not much was bought. Going from one shop to another in the rain can leave a girl feeling hungry so instead of constantly hiding under our umbrellas, we decided to go for a piece of delicious looking apple cake with some hot tea, which actually was a perfect ending for such an interesting day! 

Posted by Ils1976 10:22 Archived in Ecuador Comments (3)

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