Two weeks in EcuadorTime to come back from the US. I flew from Albuquerque, NM to Houston's airport. I had a 4-hour-lay over there before taking my next flight. I met with Christine there and together we got on our next flight to Ecuador. Our flight was very smooth even though it got delayed 2 hours.
Got to Quito's airport at 1:00 am. As soon as we arrived and claimed our luggage, Christine went to her hotel in La Mariscal area and I went home to the north of Quito.
City Tour and Middle of the World
Next day, Christine and I took the trolebus and visited Quito's Old Town. We visited La Basilica del Voto Nacional, climbed up to its towers and visited other churches in the colonial town later.
Later on, we took a couple more buses to the north of Quito and visited La Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World Monument). We got there just 15 minutes before closing. Walked around the monument for a while and headed back to Quito.
We stopped for a while at El Condado Shopping Center, bought some food to go and took another bus north to the City of Otavalo. Got there by 10:00 pm.
Cuicocha Crater Rim HikeEarly in the morning, next day.. Christine and I took a couple of buses to the town of Quiroga, and then a taxi to Cuicocha Lake.
We started hiking the crater rim at 9:00 am clockwise. The weather was excellent and it took us just 3 hours to hike the entire crater rim. At the end we hitchhiked back to Quiroga, took a bus to Otavalo and then another one to Quito.
Rucu Pichincha ClimbOur next outdoor activity was Rucu Pichincha climb. I picked Christine up at her hotel at 9:00 am and we took a taxi to El Teleferico (Cable car).
We jumped in the cable car and rode on it up to the trailhead at 4,100 meters. From there we hiked up to Rucu's base. We decided to climb by the direct route instead of the normal route to avoid the crowds. We hiked and scrambled for about 40 minutes, crossed Paso de la Muerte (Pass of death) and 15 minutes later we were on Rucu Pichincha's summit (4,698 m/15,413 ft.). It was cloudy up there but for a while we got to see Guagua Pichincha in the distance. We got down by the normal route. It was a fast climb; we got back to Quito by early afternoon.
Baños, Dirt Bike Tour
Once in Baños, Christine and I had lunch together and then walked for a while up to Mirador de La Virgen. We met 2 friendly little girls up there: Yahaira (13) and Paola (6).
They were awesome girls, 'cause they were our town guides during the rest of the day while we were in Banos. They took us to the children's playground where we played for a while with them. We visited la Cascada de La Virgen and climbed a bit up by the ladders and near the falling water.
Christine and I had dinner separately that night. I spent the night at my hotel's room playing with my new laptop while Christine had dinner out at a nice restaurant with great live Andean music.
Next day, we rented a couple of dirt bikes. We rode the wind on our two Hondas Tornado 250. We rode them by the highway and dirt roads from Banos to the upper Amazon basin. Just 20 minutes before getting to Puyo we had to stop. A bad thunderstorm was on our way so we turned back to Banos, we got wet anyway.
Once in Baños we watched the Carrera de Coches de Madera (wooden toy cars race) which started in the town of Pelileo, raced them downhill by the highway and streets to the finish line in the main square. The highway was opened to traffic again at 5 pm, so we left at that time back to Quito.
Illiniza Norte Climb
Next day, Bladimir (Llovizna's owner) took us up to La Virgen parking lot at 3,900 m. It was 6:00 am when we started hiking up towards Illinizas refuge. We got to the refuge at 8:30 am, had a quick break and kept climbing up by the southeastern ridge on Illiniza Norte.
We scrambled for a while until we got to the base of the summit, took a short break and then traversed north and continued climbing straight up to the summit.
Christine and I got to the summit (5,126 m/16,818 ft) at 12:00 pm. We hung out there a few minutes and there we headed down by the direct route and then back to El Chaupi.
Three days later Christine and I went to Cotopaxi. We didn't make it, it took us longer of what we expected, but anyway, it was a nice experience spent with Christine in my country.
Once back in Quito, we said each other goodbye, gave each other a big hug and wished each other the best luck in our next adventures.