A Travellerspoint blog

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Otavalo and a little bit more


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

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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)

high up in the air


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

I don’t exactly know what happened, but as soon as our alarm clock went off at about 7 AM, I felt like a zombie. Although we had a nice comfy bed, I didn’t sleep a wink. Was it the excitement of leaving or worrying about my little niece who got really ill and who I had to leave behind, I don’t really know, but whatever the case, it made me feel like I wanted to stay in bed all day long instead of catching a flight in just mere hours.

As soon as we got dressed and organized all of our stuff, we went downstairs to the breakfast area to enjoy the joy of what a morning can bring and with a little bit of food in my system, I got all better again and I was more than ready to leave and go and visit the unexpected!

Because we were located a few kilometers away from the airport, we arranged a shuttle transfer around 8 AM and I must say that I was more than glad to arrive at the airport coz not only did we got cold and freezy temperatures, it started to rain (read melting snow) as well. Winter had definitely come to the country and with all the trouble of the last few days concerning my country and IS supporters such as Salah Abdeslam, who wanted to blow up the place or in this case, the capital of Belgium, I was more than happy to leave to safer places.

While our country was still under the spell of terror threats, me and Tania went to the check-in to get rid of our luggage, got through customs, did some shopping and waited at our designated gate to get boarded. I know, there are worse things in life!

Getting on the plane wasn’t really hard and although it looked like we were fully loaded, getting out of Schiphol seemed a little bit more difficult since we had to wait almost an entire hour before we could finally leave. At one point I even thought that they were going to tell us, that we couldn’t leave because of all the threats going on at the moment, but it seemed that I didn’t need to worry about a thing, as soon as the runway was free, we were good to go … Ecuador, here we Belgians come!

Our flight was going to take about 11 hours and 20 minutes, so what to do to “kill” the time? 

At first I tried closing my eyes, but because it was still quite light outside, I gave up hope all together and went through the movie selection of what KLM had to offer. Although we didn’t had too much of a choice, I did decided to watch the movie Cinderella, after all, it kept me in the magical atmosphere and in the end it turned out a really feel good movie … what is not to like when you hear the words … they lived happily ever afteri I guess that only happens in a movie or in fairy tales but still, it is a nice thought, isn’t it!

Since I wasn’t really in the mood for airplane food, I was smart enough to bring my own cup of noodles and unlike some airline companies, the ladies of this flight did their best to fulfill everyones needs and even brought back my noodles with hot water. I was amazed how friendly the crew really was and they smiled all the time, did their best to wait on us hand and foot. I am more than ever a fan of this airline, that’s for sure!

As we were only a few hours into our flight, I decided to stay in the atmosphere of fairy tales and its sorts, so my next movie was called "The Avengers :  Age of Ultron" and I have to admit, when I was young I sometimes read some of the comic books, but seeing the movie is something completely different. Maybe at times it was a bit over the top, but than again, it was fun entertainment and it made sure we were a bit later in the flight when the movie finally ended.

I guess at some point I must have fallen asleep for a while coz when I finally woke up, we were already past halfway the flight and not knowing what to do besides going to the toilet and stretch my legs once in a while, I decided to watch one last movie called “the Minions” which at times was a bit funny but if I have to be honest, I don’t understand the fuss about this minion hype coz after all, they look like small tic tac peppermints with a yellow color and all through the movie they talk nonsense. Not that I complain too much because it got me through the hours and as soon as the crew past by one more time with a delicious snack, it was already time to land. We finally made it and with good speed as well coz although we had an hour delay in Schiphol, once arriving in Quito, we were right on time. I just love the pilot!

Getting through customs was quite an ordeal coz many people didn’t fill in their documents correctly or even worse, forgot to fill them in, but once we got through, it was smooth sailing.

Since me and Tania chose to do this trip with an organized tour, we just had to look out for our guide / tour leader, who apparently was nowhere to be found but instead we found some people who were going to join us. After 15 minutes of waiting, an older chap by the name of Freddy introduced himself and I don’t know why, but at first sight I got the impression we were not handed the right person for this trip, but what can we do, we got stuck with him for the next upcoming weeks.

With the group complete, 24 in total to be exact, we waited for our tour bus to arrive which was about 15 to 20 minutes later and finally we got to know our driver Manuel as well, who drove us save and sound from Quito to Otavalo, our end destination of today.

By the time it was 7 PM, it was already dark and as soon as we got checked in to our room, we had dinner with the complete group which was a nice way to get to know some people a little better, but by the time it was 10 PM, I was completely knackered and as we said goodnight, me and Tania just went to our room and got to bed. After such a long day, I was more than eager to close my eyes.

Posted by Ils1976 04:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged night hotel airport friends tour group drinks movies south_america Comments (2)

months of counting down has finally paid off!


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

Ever since Tania and I booked this trip, I must admit that I secretly began to count the weeks, but as things progressed and months went by, things got busier at work and I sort of lost track of the whole idea of me going to Ecuador and instead I completely focused on my job and family things, that is, till a few weeks before our departure. Suddenly that strange tingling sensation, that feeling you get (or at least I get) when you are about to go on holiday came back to me and as it got closer and closer to our departure date, I got really excited once again. I guess I could say that the final countdown had really begun!

Although our flight to Quito leaves tomorrow early in the morning, I still managed to get a day off from work to get all my stuff ready and after sleeping in, I packed my bags, made sure all my finances were arranged and as soon as lunch was over, my brother came along to bring me to Schelle, to the parental home of Tania, so that we could leave together to Hoofddorp, the place where we booked our hotel for an overnight stay.

Since we didn’t want to drive during rush hour, Tania’s mum arranged dinner for us and as soon as our delicious 3 meal course was over, we drove of in the early evening, only to arrive in the neighborhood of Amsterdam about 2 hours later.

The entire trip was smooth sailing, that is till we reached the capital of the Netherlands!

Driving on GPS is fun as long as you are driving in the right direction, but for some reason Tania’s GPS got all crazy on us once we were in the area of Amsterdam. It has been already quite a few years since she is the pride owner of that GPS and although she updated it several times, the constant arrival of new highways didn’t make things easier and for some reason we sort of got sidetracked, which basically meant that in a way we had a little detour, which we both positively called sightseeing by night!

I really have no idea where we were and maybe in the daytime you have a better view on things, but at night when there are but a few lights, things get really funny that way and after driving for maybe a little bit more than half an hour in the wrong direction, we finally found our hotel and although the last kilometers of our trip were a bit hard to digest, once we were checked in and got the keys to our room, we were happy campers all over again.

We made it, tired but with a smile on our face, we looked forward to tomorrow and after a hot cup of tea and a shower I was more than ready to hit the sack!

Posted by Ils1976 04:26 Archived in Netherlands Tagged road_trip adventure city friends family capital europe jitters preholiday_vibes Comments (0)

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