Baños Day 2 – Spanish classes

We started our Spanish classes this morning at 8:00. Duke and I are at different levels so we each have our own teacher. This is the view from the school. 

After two hours of brain numbing speaking we went with our teachers for a walk around town. Here I am with my teacher. 

We walked over to the waterfall. They have wash tubs right by the bottom of the falls. But I think we will use a laundry later this week. They charge about 75 cents per kilo. 

We went to a steak restaurant for dinner. Duke had meat on the stone. 

Latacunga to Baños

This morning we left Latacunga to go to Baños. We took a taxi out to the Pan American Highway where we caught an express bus to Baños. The bus was very similar to our last bus but they weren’t showing a movie. They did however have free wifi.

In Baños we are staying in a flat share owned by the woman who runs the Spanish language school we will be taking classes at for the next five days.

We explored Baños a bit in the rain.  Baños is a small town surrounded by towering mountains. In the picture below which is taken right outside our accommodations you can just see a waterfall.

We stopped for an afternoon snack of coffee and a crepe to get out of the rain.

By the time we went to dinner the rain had stopped. We ate at a Swiss restaurant. I had a wonderful pork tenderloin in raspberry sauce and Duke had beef stroganoff.  

Tomorrow our classes start at 8am!

Into the Mountains to visit Lago Quilotoa

Last night we booked a tour for today. A van and our guide Alex picked us up at our hotel at 8:30  and we headed up into the Andes. Our first stop was Tigua. A style of painting called Tigua originated near here. It shows colorful indigenous scenes painted on skins. We stopped at a shop and browsed. We almost bought a fairly large painting but ended up with a small one. 

Saturday is market day in Zumbahua the next town we stopped in. We spent about 20 minutes exploring the market. Everyone who lives in this area is indigenous and we drove by many indigenous farms as we climbed into the mountains. 

The market had everything from guys with treadle sewing machines sewing clothes, to live chickens and sides of lamb. 

They also had wool. 


And bananas. 

From Zumbahua we climbed up to the volcanic  crater lake, Laguna Quilotoa. The rim of the crater is at an elevation of 3914 meters (12,841 ft). We climbed down the steep sandy trail 400 meters (1312 ft) to the lake shore. 

Coming back up was really hard work and made me think we were out of our minds. We could have hired a couple of these for $20 to ride back up but didn’t.

We had lunch of soup, broiled chicken, fried potatoes, cabbage and rice at a restaurant on the rim. Boy did it hit the spot!

For dinner tonight after getting cleaned up and resting a bit we had pizza and beer. 

Quito to Latacunga

This morning we packed up and took a taxi to the bus station for buses heading south from Quito. The bus station was very modern and looked like an airport. The bus ride to Latacunga was about two hours. The bus was very comfortable and modern. On the drive we passed the snow covered Cotopaxi volcano.

On the bus They were showing a Japanese vs Chinese war movie dubbed in Spanish. I finished my first book of the trip – the new Louise Penny inspector Gamache book.

The bus tickets for the two of us cost $4.70!

Latacunga is much smaller town than Quito, about 100,000 people. We spent the afternoon wandering around the center of town. We are staying at the Hotel Endamo.

Quito Day 3

Here is a quiz that will be answered later in this post. Two weeks ago I didn’t know the surprising answer. What is the official currency of Ecuador?

We went back to Quito old town today. It is a UNESCO world heritage sight. We started at the basilica where there were holding a mass to bless the police.

Then we walked down hill to visit Quito’s cathedral on the Plaza Grande.

Then we took a tour of the Numismatic Museum in the Central Bank of Ecuador. It was fascinaing to learn how Ecuador’s currency has developed with the history of the country. In the late 1990s Ecuador faced hyper inflation. Towards the end of the tour there was a plexiglass box about 1ft by 4ft by 5ft. It was full of coins in the old currency, the Sucre.  When Duke was here about 35 years ago he thinks 1 sucre was about 20 cents. The box contained about 5,625,000 sucres. Today they are all worth $15.

In any case when the value of the sucre went almost to zero Ecuador changed their official currency to the U.S. Dollar!! So we are using our $ here just like at home.

Our last stop in the old town was the Church and Monestary of San Francisco. It is Quito’s oldest Church.

We had a late lunch in the old Archbishop’s Palace which now has shops and restaurants.

Tomorrow we head by bus to Latacunga about 40 miles (98 km) south of Quito.

If you would like to see our itinerary with links to previous posts it is available by clicking on the link below. .

Our itinerary

Quito day 2

Today was a relaxing day. We took a taxi to Capilla del Hombre and Museo Guayasamín. It is the museum of the work of the painter Oswaldo Guayasamin and the home where he lived. 

The art gallery was amazing. Guayasamin designed it and had it built for the art. It was beautiful and moving. Although his paintings in the museum were about the suffering of the people of Latin America there was still a sense of hope and strength. I think it would be worth visiting Quito just to visit La Capilla del Hombre!

His home was just as he left it including his studio and his art collection.  This is the view from the house. 

We couldn’t take pictures in the house or the museum but I’ve included below a couple of pictures of postcards. 

These pictures are in the garden. 

The Capilla del Hombre and Museo Guayasamin were high on a hill above our hotel so although we took a taxi to get there we walked back to our hotel. 

For dinner tonight we went to a wonderful restaurant not far from our hotel. It was called Urko.  The octopus was nothing like we were served in Spain. But the flavors were oh so good!

We ended with espresso. 

And now the Guayasamin postcards. It would be very tempting to buy a print. 

Quito Day 1

Our first day in Quito after breakfast at our hotel (It is a great Hotel- Hotel Zen Suites) we went out exploring. Quito is at altitude 2815 meters or 9,200 feet so I got out of breath very easily. Every time we climbed a hill or stairs I huffed and puffed but we ended up walking probably 5 miles. The temperature was in the high 60s  so it was a very pleasant day to walk. 

Our first stop was the Quito Observatory. It was opened in 1864 and is the second oldest in South America. They have a wonderful museum of old scientific equipment. 

We climbed the tower in the Church of Santo Domingo and got a great view. When we came down the guy who we paid to get in was at lunch and we couldn’t figure out how to open the door doer so we had to sit and wait  in the garden until someone came along to tell us how together out! I love how the bell in the tower is hung with leather straps. 

All the time we were in Spain and Portugal we never saw a yarn shop so when I saw this I thought of Barbara and had to go in!

For a late lunch we stopped at a restaurant on the historic street La Ronda. We ate on an open air second floor  terrace. Duke had Cuy (Guinea pig) and I had potato soup! He said the Guinea pig tasted kind of like rabbit but there wasn’t much meat! My soup was great!

We ended our walking tour at the Plaza Grande and took a cab back to our hotel. Dinner was at Zao Asian Restaurant near our hotel. It was wonderful. We started with prawns then Duke had beef and tempura broccoli and I had a beef and vegetable bowl.