Tasmania – Day 2

Today’s weather is a high of 84 degrees with sunny skies. We learn that the weather temperature record of 135 years was broken with yesterday’s and today’s high temperatures!

Today, my sister and I did a tour outside of what OATS had to offer. We booked a tour with Viator called Day Trip to Tasman Peninsula and Port Arthur Historic Site from Hobart.

We got up at 6:00 am so that we could get ready for the day and eat a good breakfast.

We left our hotel at 7:00 am and walked to Franklin Wharf where we checked in to Pennicott Wilderness Journeys for our full day trip.

We were supposed to depart Hobart at 7:30. However, since SEVERAL people arrived late, we did not depart until  7:46 am. Our driver is Phil.
Hobart has preserved many of its older buildings. We pass a few that we have not seen on our previous outings.
Phil points out a castlelike building which is the home of the governor. It was built out of sandstone blocks by convicts. Tasmania currently has its first female governor. We cross the Tasman Bridge over river 100 km in length. Phil tells us about a noat/freighter accident that took out part of the bridge. For over three years Hobart was not able to use it.
He tells everyone on the bus to try and make sure to visit the historic city of Richmond. It has the oldest  jail and oldest church. We visited Richmond yesterday.
Crossing another bridge. Left hand side is a shark and stingray sanctuary.
Sorell Township. Second largest commonwealth in southern Tasmania.
Dunalley Township. First landing
We saw and drove  over Denison Canal. To our right is a beautiful blue water bay. The driver mentions that this is Dunalley Bay.
In 2013 there was a devastating fire in this area. You could still see where the damage was done.
Phil continues to discuss sights along the way. I, unfortunately, did not catch them all.
We arrive at Stewart’s Bay Lodge where we disembark the bus and go into the restaurant for wonderful warm muffins and hot coffee. At 10:00 am, we walk down to the docks to load onto our sleek speedboat! We will be out on the water for three hours. We will head south to Tasman Island and back again. We will be sailing into the Great Southern Ocean on 750 horsepower. Prepare to get wet!
Our first sightseeing spot is a view of Port Arthur. It was much more than a prison. There was Genocide of culture, brutal treatment of convicts. The boys were separated from the men. All were mistreated.
More than 300,000 people visit this historic place every year. It is second only to Ayers Rock as far as popularity and number of people who visit.
24 cruise ships are coming in next month. Water is so deep the cruise ships do not tended passengers in. The cruise boats can go all the way in.
Next, we stop to see these fenced in areas. It is a fish farm! Salmon is what is being farmed. There are seven pens. 40,000 fish in a pen
Every thirty days, the fish need a bath to rid them of parasites that can be damaging to the salmon. To do this, the salmon run through a tube to fresh water pens. In two hours, they are cleaned up and the amoeba are removed from their gills. This is done every thirty days. In addition to the fish being bathed, they use to be fed anchovies. However, that became too expensive so now they are fed pellets.
As we get further away from the shore/starting point, we notice the huge dolomite cliffs. We also see layers of rock called Mudstone. This rock is created in ocean and looks very similar to sandstone. It is 300,000,000 years old.
The dolomite cliffs/Stone is over 100,000,000 years
80 percent of marine life is in Tasman
Highest seacliffs in Australia
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Tasman Island has a lighthouse.
Port Arthur. 300,000 people visit here every year.
Second only to Ayers Rock
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Tasmania – Day 1

The weather forecast for today is a high of 85 degrees and sunny.

We are told that Hobart is experiencing record temperatures. In the summer, the high may be 23 degrees Celsius. This is their springtime and today’s temperature is 27 degrees Celsius and tomorrow is suppose to be the same. I, for one, am not complaining!

We rose early for breakfast.

Then, we enjoyed an early morning walking tour of historic Hobart. We got a glimpse of Hobart’s rich history as we tour the city center, Salamanca Place and its surrounding areas.

This rather small city is the capital of the Australian State of Tasmania, the largest offshore island in the country. It is a seaport where you are never far from the water. While on its landward side, Mount Wellington rises more than 4,100 feet above the ocean’s edge. Hobart has a fascinating blend of Aboriginal, colonial, and maritime history that includes a wealth of Georgian architecture dating from its colonial period in the 1830’s.

We walked from our hotel to Sir David’s Park. We met our guide for the tour. He told us that most of the trees in this park are not native to Tasmania. He pointed out two sequoia trees from California that were planted in the 1920’s
He then showed us a tree planted in 1988. It was a Eucalyptus…the only native species. Eucalyptus in a Greek means fully covered. The seed pod/flower of the eucalyptus is the Tasmanian state floral emblem.
This park was originally a cemetery. In 1804, a group of people were sent off to protect the southern boundary of New South Wales from the French.
 300 of them were convicts that were sent here from an English camp.
A child was born and died and it was decided that there needed to be sacred ground for Christian buriels. Two acres were set aside. 990 people were buried here. In the meantime, the town had grown up around the cemetery, so when more space was needed, a new cemetery was opened. The Cornelian Bay Cemetery. So, this older cemetery fell into disarray.
In 1926,  fifty years after last burial, they removed the headstones, and left a few prominent ones. The bodies of all the buried were left. They used the recovered headstones as part of a wall just south of the original cemetery.
One gravestone that was left was that of a commoner. James Kelly, who was big in the whaling industry. There were twelve people in his family. Nine of the twelve are buried here.
As I mentioned earlier, as we walked around, we saw three major types of buildings.
Sandstone
Art Deco
Modern
We visited Franklin Square. Back in the day, you could only get to Tasmania by boat. If the acting premier of Tasmania died, certain people living in Tasmania would take over the position of premier until the new one arrived.
William Lodewyk Crowther was one of those people. He was a doctor. He was the temporary premier eight times.
Franklin was the fifth premier in 1838
We finished our tour just outside of Salamanca Market at a monument for Abel Tasman. He was an explorer who was looking for a trade route and discovered Tasmania.
We met up with a Jeanette, our trip tour guide. She bought us some fresh smoked salmon, so we all gave it a try. It was really good!
Then, we boarded a bus for the next part of our tour. Our driver was Alvin. He was a Lawn Bow champion.
As we drove from Hobart towards the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Jeanette talked a lot about the history of Australia. She mentioned that the Dutch got here in 1642. Troops then walked across Australia and shot the original people. Those that were not shot were treated as subhumans. They were put into slavery. Men became station hands. Women were domestics. Many were raped which produced half caste children. These children were taken away to missions and the boys were trained to be ranch hands (unpaid) and the girls were trained as domestics (unpaid). In 1942 when the Japanese were bombing Australia, they put the mixed children on an island so that they would be bombed first.
The Originals were provided with blankets from the British. This eventually infected them with smallpox and many died. People today, who are currently in their 50’s and 60’s were racists. They feel that originals are subhuman. The treatment of Originals was bad until 1967. At that time, the Prime Minister apologized for their mistreatment and the country is trying to help them.
Original people live in the outback. The first time they saw a white man was 1984. They are nomadic. Fanny Cochran was the last full blooded aboriginal. There are no full blooded original Tadmanian people left.
The current population of Australia is 24 million. 80 percent live on the east coast. The population of Tasmania is 520,000.
There are no white swans in Australia. Only black swans. We saw quite a few on our drive to Bonorong.
There are no passenger trains in Australia only freight trains.
We learned that Tasmanian devils are being wiped out by cancer. Working hard to save them.
Wombats have mange and spreading. So this is another species that is trying to be saved.
The wombat is closet relative to koala. They are marsupials. They have a pouch that faces backwards. The reason is because they are a burrowing animal. If the pouch faced forward, when they dig, the dirt would go right into their pouch.
Only egg laying marsupials
Platypus and echina
Tasmanian tiger had a pouch
1936…Benjamin was last living Tasmanian tiger.

We finally arrive at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, Tasmania’s most popular Wildlife park and a haven for injured and orphaned animals. We saw many species that are extinct everywhere but Tasmania, such as the Tasmanian devil, the eastern quoll, the Tasmanian pademelon, and the shy Tasmanian bettong.

Alicia is our guide. She shows us Judy, a 19 month old wombat. Judy weighs about 40 pounds which is only half of her full grown size. She eats grass. She is also fed oats, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Wombats are the largest burrowing marsupials. They can run up to 40 kph. Wombats have a cartilage plate used as a defense. At age two, wombats become aggressive and want nothing to do with humans.
The next animal we meet is Mickey, the 2 1/2 year old Tasmanian Devil. We learn about the cancer epidemic. It is transmitted by bites. It was discovered that they had it in 1995. 95 percent of the population was destroyed. Efforts started to try and find a cure. In 2006, a possible cure was found and is being tested. Still not sure if it is working. So, at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, they are helping with breeding Tasmanian Devils..Their life expectancy is 4 to 5 years in the wild and 6 to 8 years in captivity.
The next animal we meet is the Koala. They are not native to Tasmania. Tasmania does not have the proper eucalyptus trees to support Koalas. Two were brought over from Kangaroo Island. It was discovered that the female was pregnant. So, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary has three. They sleep a lot! We were fortunate to be able to go in the enclosure of the male koala, pet him and have our picture taken with him! What a special moment this was for everyone.
We then met Randall, the echina. He had been attacked by a dog. One of his legs is missing.
Next stop….kangaroos!
Kangaroos do not have a mating season. When the female becomes pregnant, she can hold off the embryo for up to six months. The mom decides the sex of her Joey. Many choose to have females when they are younger and have males when they are older. The reason for this is that  the females stay with their mom and become part of the herd. But the males stay with their moms for only twelve months and then they have to leave the tribe and relocate. There can be only one alpha male….top dog….only one who can mate. We got to feed the kangaroos, which was another exciting experience. They were everywhere!
Dingoes are not native to Australia.
Alas, our time at the Wildlife Sanctuary is over. Time to head back to Hobart. On the way back, we stopped to view a large sandstone bridge that was built by convicts. It is the oldest still in use sandstone bridge.
We also stop in the historic town of Richmond. Richmond was a big military area. It is unarguably picturesque. We saw well preserved sandstone buildings, including a jail. This was the only male/female jail in its time. We ate lunch in this quaint little town.
After returning to Hobart, my sister and I walked to the wharf to check out the place that we need to be at tomorrow for our next tour. We walked back by Davis Park to find the wall that was built using those headstones. When we found it, we were really impressed with how each gravestone had been incorporated into the wall. Then, as we headed back to the hotel, we stopped inside a few churches to check out their interiors.
We arrive at our hotel and freshen up for dinner at a local pub. I have the pork roast and a glass of sparkling wine.
Back to the hotel to try and write this blog. I do apologize if I have written any incorrect information. I did my best to take notes about this incredible day as well as to enjoy all that we encountered today!
Whew! Time for bed so that I am fully rested to enjoy tomorrow’s adventure!

Tasmania, Australia & New Zealand: An Adventure Down Under

Today, my sister and I begin our thirty-two day adventure to the land down under. We departed from O’Hare Airport at 4:00 pm on United Airlines flight 592. We landed in Los Angeles at 6:30 pm.

At 10:05 pm we boarded Qantas Airways flight 094. This flight was 15 hours and 55 minutes long. I was not looking forward to that long of a trip, but with intermittent naps and things to watch on “the screen”, it was not all that bad.

We arrived in Melbourne at 9:00 am on Monday, November 20th. We lost one day crossing the International Date Line. We went through customs, which is all automated, so NO STAMP in my passport!!! How disappointed. Then, we picked up our luggage and turned in our declaration document, and then headed out to meet up with our tour guide.

When we went to the spot that we were told to, we were greeted by our Overseas Adventure representative, Jeanette! She made us feel very welcome!

We transferred to our flight to Hobart, Tasmania. We arrived at 1:06 pm. We picked up our luggage and boarded a bus that would take us to our hotel, The Best Western.

After settling in our room, we attended a Welcome meeting. We met all of the people on our tour. There are eleven of us. Jeannette passed out portfolios that contained details of how we would be spending our days. We had all received similar information at home, but Jeannette, who has done thirty-eight of these tours with Overseas Adventure Travel, put a little spin on our daily activities. She wants to make sure that we get the most out of our time in Australia!
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Ecuador – Day 3

Today we departed our hotel at 8:48 am. It is slightly overcast and looks like rain is in our future. Our first stop is only ten minutes away. It is Saturday, so there is an animal market being held. People sell cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and various other animals. Vendors also sell produce and various clothing items.

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We spent about an hour there. It started drizzling just as we departed. Back on the bus and now we are back on the Pan-American Highway. Our final destination will be Papallacta. As we drove along the highway, we passed many bicyclists and became aware that there was an important bike race going on. We stopped in the town of Cayambe as several,of the people on our bus have developed sore throats. Edison is taking them to a pharmacy to see if they can get a remedy.

We continued on our journey. We are at 8,000 feet and will be climbing to 11,000 feet. 12:15 pm. At 12:41 pm we are at 12,300 feet. There are signs to be on the lookout for Spectacle Bears. There are even signs for Spectacle Bear crossings. Our guide said that he has never seen one, but that our driver, Marco has. So, we all kept our eyes open…but did not see one. We notice huge electric structures and wires. We are told that 90% of the electricity in Ecuador is hydroelectric. This wiring that we see is the “roadway” to send electricity to Peru. We are now at the highest point on the road in the Andes. 12,800 ft. As we descend, we are told that we are entering the rainforest.

As we near the town of Papallacta, we are told that rainbow trout is the specialty here. That it is served many different ways.

Papallacta is a small village in Napo Province, Ecuador located at an altitude of 3,300 m in the Andes just off the Eastern Cordilleras on the road from Quito which leads into the Amazon jungle. The scenic drive from Quito to Papallacta passes through several towns and small villages before ascending to a peak of over 4,000 m, from where mountains and glaciers are visible. Descending from the peak to Papallacta, the ecosystems transform from alpine to tropical jungle.
Several hot springs and spas are located in Papallacta. Many of the local restaurants are known for their steamed trout. For lodging, there are several hotels and a resort.

Hot water streams from the earth in Papallacta because it’s nestled between two volcanos: the Cayambe Volcano and Antisana Volcano. Water percolates in the earth at the source it ranges between 30°C to 70°C (86°F to 158°F). By the time it reaches the pools it’s considerably cooler due to travel time (pipes carry water from the source to the pools) and because the hotels add some cold water to the pools. Water from the hotsprings is said to have certain health benefits. It contains calcium, sulfates, chloride, and sodium. Its taste is slightly salty

The climate in Papallacta is humid, relatively cold and wet, at a relatively high elevation in the Andes, at 3,300 meters above sea level. The average day-time temperature in Papallacta is 14°C (57°F). There is little seasonal variation in Papallacta. Although the climate in Papallacta is always dreary, the cold, foggy weather sets a pleasing backdrop for hotsprings bathers.

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We arrive at our hotel, Termes de Papallacta. It has hot springs and a Spa. Our room is very nice. Just outside the door is a geothermal pool. There are several throughout the area where the cabins are. There is a public area across the road that has several hot spring pools. In addition, you can pay a little extra money and enjoy the six geothermal pools that are part of the Spa. We opted to do that. I also decided to have an hour long hot rocks massage. What a joy that was!!

20170506_170448This is a view right outside our door. ^

This is a view of our cabin

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GRATITUDE MOMENT: With other people on our tour experiencing altitude sickness or sore throats, I am thankful that I have stayed healthy!

Ecuador – Day 2

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Today, we boarded our bus and headed towards Otavalo. Someone on our bus asked if there were other spots throughout South America marking the Equator. The answer was yet, but the one that we visited is very important because it was the base used by the French when they came here.

We traveled through the newer part of Quito. Yesterday, we had visited the older part (Old Town). Main sport is soccer. We passed the stadium where the tournaments are held between Bolivia, Columbia, Venezuela, etc.

The third highest export of Ecuador is roses. Here, you can buy 25 roses for $1.00. Roses grow well here because of the type of soil and the sun. They develop easier, faster and better. Roses grown along the Equator are fantastic. When roses first started being grown here, there were just a couple of species. Now, there are just about any kind of rose that you would want…even a rainbow rose! If you are willing to pay the price…just about any kind/color of rose can be grown. Over 40,000 roses per day are exported from ONE rose farm. Because so many cargo planes were needed for this export, a new airport was built in Quito. The one we landed at was the newer one. It has only been in operation for five years. When the rose industry first started, the workers were paid low wages and had no protection from the fertilizers. It has improved over the years. Now they wear uniforms, masks, glasses, hats and gloves. Day care is provided (breakfast, lunch and an education).

As we traveled on the Pan American Highways (which is 28,000 km long) we could see the east range of the Andes Mountains. We passed through various cities. You could see Acacia trees, Eucalyptus trees (imported from Australia) and some pine trees (imported from California). You could see many, many greenhouse with shining roofs. The roofs protect the roses from the sun, the rain, and the wind. Much of the area that we passed through use to be known for its dairy cows. Production of milk was high. However, many of these farms converted to rose farms because it was less expensive. One of the cities we stopped briefly in was Guayllabamba. We stopped so that Edison could buy each of us a strange, reptilian-looking Andean fruit called chirimoya. The knobby green skin is discarded and the custardlike white pulp inside is eaten. There were ALOT of seeds inside!

 

We passed into the Imbabura Province. It is the province of many lakes. We stopped at a small restaurant/shop by San Pablo Lake in Cayambe It is the biggest in the province. We got to try bizcochos, which is a small salted biscuit. They are baked in brick ovens which are heated with wood. We could see part of Mt. Imbabura, which is 15,190 feet tall. The peak was covered by clouds.

Coal is a big product in this area, as are strawberries, potatoes and corn. Another big product are Ecuadorian Hats, which are now referred to as Panama Hats. You could find them at all different prices, depending on how well they are made.

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As we left this gift shop/restaurant, a native woman from the area boarded our bus. Our guide talked about her clothing. She wore an original dress that is worn every day. It has two skirts. The skirts are held on by two belts. She wore a handmade embroidered blouse, a shawl and necklaces. She sang three songs for us. We dropped her off in the town of Otavalo.

Otavalo is a town in Northern Ecuador. It has about 50.000 inhabitants and is the capital of the district of the same name. Otavalo is world-famous for its indigenous population, the so-called Otavalos, many of which are travelling around the world to sell their famous handicrafts or play in Andean Folk music groups. The Otavalos are considered the economically most successful indigenous group of Latin America, and many of the grandest houses and largest Pick-Up Trucks in Otavalo are owned by Otavalos. However, a great percentage of the Otavalos, especially in the surrounding villages, live in poverty and are victims of racial discrimination. Otavalos are easily recognized by their traditional dress: white pants and a dark poncho for men; a dark skirt and a white blouse with colourful embroidery and colourful waisteband for women. Both sexes wear their hair long (the men usually platted).

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We got off the bus and were able to spend more than an hour walking around the famous Otavalo Market. Many of the booths had the same items. We were encouraged to bargain with them. We came away with two t-shirts and two sweaters for our granddaughter, Maisie. One was made of wool and one was made of alpaca.

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After that, we drove to another town. We visited a shop where a native woman demonstrated how the sheep wool or alpaca wool is turned into the beautiful tapestries. She carded the wool, brushing out any debris, separated the fibers and cleaned them with two wire brushes. She then took a bunch of soft wool and spun it onto a spool. She then showed us how the wool is dyed. She used achiote to dye the wool orange; walnut to dye the wool brown, wildbush chilca (sp) leaves to dye the wool green; and then she did the MOST amazing thing. She took a bug (Dactylopius coccus) that is found on the cactus plant smashed it….and there was red! She added something to the red, and it became a new color. Finally, she added something else to that color and got a third color! These colorants from the bug are called cochineal. She then sat on the floor and demonstrated how to weave using a floor loom. Our guide showed us three different wall hangings that could be made and told us how long it took to make each. She then went to a wooden loom and demonstrated how she would weave a shawl. The entire process was very interesting.

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Back on the bus. We are now headed to Cotacachi. It is 15 km north of Otavalo. It is famous for its leatherwork. In this town you will see many signs in English. This is because some USA organization was looking for the best places for people to retire. Cotacachi came in #7. There are already a lot of Americans living here, so that is why you will see many signs in English. This is where we ate lunch. I just had the potato soup that they put avocado and cheese in….BUT…a few people ordered the guinea pig, which is considered a delicacy. Since they could not eat the whole thing, they did offer to share with everyone, and yes, I did try it. It wasn’t that bad. No, it did not taste like chicken….

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When we left the restaurant at 2:00 pm, it had started to rain. So, instead of going to see another lake, we all decided to just go to our hotel in Otavalo. We are staying at the Las Palmeras Inn. We each have our own little cabin. Inside there is a room with a table, two chairs and a fireplace, the bathroom, and a bedroom. It is very cozy. The area outside is filled with beautiful plants, so after we got a fire started, we walked around in the very light drizzle and enjoyed the beauty!

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Gratitude Moment: I am thankful that we have had beautiful weather for traveling the countryside of Ecuador. I have been able to experience things that I never imagined.

Ecuador – Day 1

We arrived at our hotel at 7:45 am. After checking, we went up to our room to drop off our luggage and freshen up a bit. There was NO way that we were going to miss our first tour of the trip!

At 8:30 am we met our tour guide, Edison and the six other people who were on this tour. Although the maximum was 18, only 8 people booked this particular trip. A smaller number of people will make the trip more enjoyable.

We boarded our bus. Our itinerary was a fully guided city tour.

Quito is a long, long city. It is 30 miles long and 67 miles wide (at least that is what I thought I heard). There are 83 volcanoes in Ecuador and 18 are active. We drove done Amazones Avenue which is the main road in Ecuador. There are only two seasons….rainy and dry. September through May is the rainy season. We were very lucky to have blue, sunny skies this morning. There are 24 provinces in Ecuador. It is a very Catholic country…90% Roman Catholic…but only about 1/2 practice the religion.

Our first stop is the Bascillica de National. It is the only church that allows you to take pictures inside. Before we go in, our guide points out that instead of gargoyles on the outside, there are creatures representative of the country….turtles, ant eaters, crocodiles, lizards and monkeys, to name a few.

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The inside of the church is beautiful. Around the perimeter are twenty four separate areas…one for each province. Each is decorated differently.

Our next stop was the Plaza de la Independencia, the city’s main square. This is where Quito started. When you stand in the square, you can see the House of Government, a Cathedral (which is now a museum), the City Municipal Building, where the mayor is, and the ArchBishop palace. In the center of the square is a statue. It is celebrating Quitos independence from Spain on May 24, 1822.

We were able to watch the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace. This occurs every hour and a half. We learned the story of the assassination of Gabriel Garcia Moreno who was one of Ecuador’s presidents. He was assassinated right outside the Presidential Palace.

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Oir next stop was another church. the Society of Jesus Church. (Jesuit). We were not allowed to take pictures. It was stunning inside! The main altar was done in the Baroque Style, lots of detail and highly ornamental. Everything was covered in gold leaf of gold paint. It is estimated that 50 – 52 kg of gold were used in this church.

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We visited another church. When it was first built, it was a convent. Now, it holds masses every day. We walked inside and once again, I was awed at the beauty, lots of statues with faces that looked like porcelain and they were wearing different garb.

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Back on the bus and now we are headed to a spectacular viewpoint! Penecillo Hill. Atop this hill is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary. The views of Quito, from this hilltop are jaw dropping! There are houses every where!ADC_5477ADC_5485

Our next destination will be driving north to “The Middle of the World”. This is where the Equator divides the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. When we got to the monument, we learned about how this particular spot was picked to be the Equator. We also learned that once GPS came into play, it was found that this monument was actually about 564 meters south of where 0,0 latitude actually is. So, after taking photos at the “original” Equator and having a delicious lunch, we walked those 564 meters to visit the actual 00 degree 00′ 00″ according the GPS Equator!

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What a full day we had! Our guide extolled so much history on us (and I couldn’t write it all down) and we saw such fantastic sites!

Tomorrow we depart Quito and head north to,the indigenous town of Otavalo.

Moment of Gratitude: I am thankful that our flight left Houston in enough time to make it to Quito to participate in this amazing tour. I am also thankful for the fact that I am able to visit such beautiful places.

Ecuador – Here We Come

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We departed our home at 11:00 am and headed towards O’Hare. We had no problems checking in and our flight was on time. We were headed to Houston, where we would get on a 6:15 pm flight to Quito. Boarded the plane and got ready to leave the gate when the captain said that due to bad weather, there were planes out on the tarmac just waiting to get the go ahead to take off. Since that line was so long, we were going to stay at the gate until given the go ahead.

Two hours later, we are still sitting at the gate. The captain said that unfortunately too much time has passed and by flying to Quito they would exceed their flight hours!!!! So, everybody gets off the plane and anxiously waits to see if United can find new pilots.

Two hours later….new pilots arrive….Hip Hip Hooray!  After about 15 minutes, we board the plane. Everyone is ready to take off, when the captain comes on an says that there is some kind of mechanical issue. Maintenance is looking at it and as soon as he knows anything, he will let us know. Ten minutes later, he announces that we are going to have to change planes!  Take all of your belongings and head to the new gate.

At 12:30 a, we push away from the gate. At 1:00 am we are up in the air. We were suppose to arrive in Quito on Wednesday evening at 11:35 pm. We arrive at 6:49 am on Thursday, May 4th. Our first tour is at 8:30 am. Will we make it…or miss it???