Operation Badger travel blog

Button Vs Anaconda

North and South hemisphere simultaneous handstand!

Feeling the suck

Quito old town

Quito old town 2

Quito old town 3

Quito old town 4

Georgie wanting at least one other person to sing along

I will survive!

Making sweet music (with tequila headphones!)

After the jungle we headed for Quito, our final destination in Ecuador. Enroute we stopped at Otavelo, a market town a few hours outside the capital. The altitude here is close to 3000 metres and we felt it, having spent a while at sea level, although nowhere near as bad as when we first got off a plane in Mexico City at the very start of the trip. I’m not sure, medically, how long you stay acclimatized for, you certainly lose it quick but we seem to be quicker at getting back in the zone now too. Otavelo is a quaint enough place surrounded by volcanoes and mountains. It is said to be the best market in South America. A bold statement indeed. We found it to be okay, but it's only a cloth market, and if you want rugs or hammocks it is very bright and colourful, but we’ve found some of the best markets are the ones with food as well, where the spices and scents overpower you. We did toy with the idea of getting a hammock but declined in the end because we have absolutely no spare room in our luggage. Oh, or a house. Or, and by extension of the house, a large garden with suitable trees in which to hang it...

Basically it rained and thundered for the whole time we were there, apart from, mercifully, the few hours we spent in the market. Due to the weather, and being practically our last stop in South America, we decided to go on a bit of a celebratory bender that lasted two days and culminated in the early hours of the second morning in some really dodgy karaoke bar, trying to do tequila and sing Abba songs with Spanish words on the auto cue. I really like the song Chiquitita but found that when I clearly couldn’t sing it in Spanish and I tried to do it in English from memory the only words I knew were Chiquitita you and I know, which I ended up singing over and over, and luckily everyone in the bar was so wasted I don’t think anyone realised. We both did a good duet of My Way. At some point in the night we bumped into a load of Brits and, only due to photographic evidence, I ended up doing some naked karaoke to some really random songs. Suffice to say, it took a whole 24 hours for us to recover from aforementioned bender, amidst all the familiar cries of, “we shall never drink again!” Until next time...

We stopped at the equator line just outside of Quito. It is very touristy, with various monuments and tacky cheese, and it was exactly the sort of cheese I love! There is a big military monument that is about two hundred metres in the wrong place because it was built before GPS. What made me smile more is the fact that it is still there and you can pay to go and see the military monument that’s in the wrong place. Naturally I took a handstand shot straddling the northern and southern hemisphere. Cool. There are also interactive things, like what you would get in a science museum, that were good old four seasons fun. Like plug holes where water pours clockwise or counter clockwise depending on what side of the line you are. It seemed to work but I read somewhere that the sinks are somehow fixed and that the Coriolis Effect only works with large bodies of water, like clouds and storms, not running a bath or flushing the toilet. The really weird one though is if you stand a meter away from the line and interlock the fingers of both hands and try to get someone to pull them apart, they will have difficulty. When you stand on the actual line of the equator however, they pull it apart with ease. I tried many scenarios with Georgie and every time we stood on the line she would pull my arms apart or push my arms down as if I were half her size. I felt like Clark Kent in Superman 2 after he loses his powers, although you don’t actually lose strength on the equator just resistance. It’s why all the space launch pads are in Southern Florida, as close to the equator as America can get. Apparently they are trying to build a space shuttle launch site in Ecuador, but the idea isn’t popular with everyone. Sounds like it would make a good plot for a James Bond film called Moonsucker or something...

We arrived in Quito, which is the second highest city in Latin America after La Paz, at 2, 850 metres. It is set in a hollow at the foot of a 5000 metre volcano. We stayed in the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, filled with cobbled streets and loads of churches, cathedrals and plaza’s. It is one of the most attractive cities in South America, though the new part of the city is not- it is a bit of a poo hole, despite all the new shops and restaurants. The old town has lots of charm and history. We spent four days here, just bumbling around churches and museums and drinking coffee in cafes and sleeping lots! It feels like a long time ago when we flew into Rio and since then we’ve driven close to 20,000 km through every type of terrain imaginable. I will leave the South American conclusions until the very end. First we have to fly back to Santiago, home of the bandito and then fly to Easter Island, technically the last leg of the South American tour and the one that I’ve been most looking forward to. Despite the fact that it’s Easter, jingle bells....

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