05.28 // South America // Days 8-12
Day 8 [goodbye medellin]
Sleep in. Potatoe and pork wrapped in huge leaf for breakfast. Fold laundry hanging on back patio before it rains. Talk to mother for first time. Wonderful to hear her voice. Bakery for last time. Wilson [works at bakery] tells us he’ll make us a huge meal at his house if we come back in December. Pack our bags. Drive to bus terminal. Say goodbye to Jon, Martha, and Serena. Gamble on the slot machines with Saul. Each loose 50 cents. Totally worth it. Gatorades and crackers for the bus ride. Driver says its gonna be a 16 hour drive to border of Columbia/Ecuador. Perfect. Most winding and bumpy roads I´ve ever riden on. Close my eyes in attempt to sleep through it. Stop at 11pm for hot meal on the street. A lot of road still ahead of us. Back to sleep. Rest of crew plays BS. Someone in back of bus tells them to be quiet. Driving through the night. Another long day of traveling tomorrow.
Day 9 [on the road]
Its 4am. The bus is stopped. Look outside to see dozens of men with guns. Painted on white wall reads “Danger Military”. Comforting. Everyone gets off bus to stretch. Driver tells us [the americans] to stay in our seats. I put my hat on and try to go back to sleep. Matt develops a plan in case he gets attacked. Everything works out. Bus moves on. After 19.5 hours of being on the bus, we arrive at the border. Get in line for our departure stamp. They won´t let Luisa through. Needs some special stamp because she was born in Columbia. Wait 2 hours for Luisa to get things straightened out. Saul looses his iphone. Everyone is hungry. All make walk across border into Ecuador. Get passports stamped. Find food. Jump on bus to Quito for $4.50. 8 hour drive. Crappy roads. No air condition. Frequent stops. Arrive in Quito at 1130pm. We´ve been traveling for 30 hours. Taxi to hotel. Don´t bother changing clothes. Everyone´s body is a little out of wack. Am i tired? Am I hungry? Do I want to sit down or stand up? Just glad to be in Quito.
Day 10 [first day in quito]
Downstairs early for continental breakfast. Crawl back into bed for a little more sleep. Hot shower. Journal about the 30 hour trek. Check-out. Off to Los Alpes Hostal [where we will be staying for next 3 nights]. Does anyone know where it is? 6 taxis later we decide to look up the address online. Quest for internet cafe. Walk for an hour. Doaa struggles with her suitcase. People walking by laugh at her. Finally get address. Pile into taxi [Doaa sits on our laps]. Los Alpes is legit. Accomodations are amazing. Hand-knit roses attached to room key. Lounge around for most of the day as we wait for the rest of the crew [11 other caldwells]. Bank to exchange our higher bills [lots of places in Ecuador dont accept $20 bills]. Matt gets 30 dollars in golden coins. Saul [hispanic] receives one dollar bills. Matt is ticked. He has heavy pockets. Reflection on back patio with crew. First group arrives. Good to see familiar faces. Money train with spanish subtitles. Final group arrives. Warm, refreshing reunion. Good to have everyone together. Off to bed.
Day 11 [the equator 0º,0º,0º]
Wake up call at 7am. Breakfast downstairs. Everyone seems to be sleep-walking. 15-passenger van gets here at 8. Off to the heart of the city to see the churches and presidential palace [equivalent to whitehouse]. Churches were loaded 2-tons of gold. Some were built more than 400 years ago. [Older than United States as a country]. Guided tour of the palace. Group picture. Back into the van. Drive to the Equator [0º, 0º, 0º]. Everyone is stoked. Do toilets really flush opposite ways in different hemispheres? Maybe we´ll find out. Do some science experiments at the 0º, 0º, 0º line. Turns out water does spin opposite ways on either side of the line. Balance an egg on a nail. Saul can´t do it. The group is pretty exhausted. Decide to head back to the hotel for naps. Dinner. Reflection. Journaling. Writing. Shower time. Miguel [our guide for the trip] talks about what we will be doing in the rainforest. So stoked. Goodnight.
Day 12 [ecuadorian craft and culture]
Someone knocks on the door at 7am. We decide to ignore it. Quick breakfast. Miguel dumps truckload of salt onto his eggs. Nice. 2-hour van ride to small village located in Andes mountain range. The Pinchincha Volcanoe [4800 meters] stands tall on the horizon with its gorgeous snow-capped peak. South America definitly has some mountains. Traditional woman shows us her embroidery techniques. Beautiful hand-stiched patterns take weeks to finish. Process is facinating. Shelly doesn´t stop smiling. Standard of living is humbling. Back into the van to visit some local weavers. Stunning hand-woven tapestries drain everyone´s wallets. Real fun time. Last stop: the market. Hundreds of vendors. Lots of the same thing over and over. Overwhelming. Addictive. A once in the lifetime experience. Everyone uses their purchases as pillows on ride back. Pack bags. Leave for rainforest at 530am. Jungle for 10 days. Not sure what the internet accessibility is gonna be like. Peace and love!