Sunday, December 11, 2016

Ecuador, Otavalo, Mitad Del Mundo, El Panecillo, Banos,

Ecuador Part 2

Melissa and I both served in Otavalo. In fact she served there right after I went home. This was my last place to serve before the end of my mission and I was here for 3 months. It was so much fun to come back with my daughter!

Then. See the heart in the mountain. I always loved that about Otavalo

This doesn't really capture it but I loved the rolling hills all around with fields of agriculture. There was less this time but it was still really beautiful

This part is really cool. We stayed with the same people that we lived with as missionaries and in the exact same room! The Morales family. He was the Stake President at the time and owned a sweater making shop which he still runs

Dinner out the first night. The food was fabulous!

There was a festival going on where everyone comes to the town square at night and dances

The dancing was us followeng the musician around in a circle and there were lots of circles around

The same view of somebodies backyard that I had before

Same room on the third floor that I stayed in on my mission. The Morales family has their business on the first floor, they live on the second floor and we lived on the third. There were three rooms and two other sister missionaries. We each had our own bed but this time there was only one so Emerald and I shared! It was just so cool!

Everything looked exactly the same The kitchen and living room area

Now is just storage or for occasional guests but we didn't use the kitchen. Lots of fond memories here. One of my favorite companions was here. Hermana Cedeno and I can picture her here making eggs in the kitchen. She liked to cook and she still does! I got to taste her cooking when we got to Guayaquil

Same bathroom, same green tile floors! I don't think it's changed at all except probably the shower head. Back then we had one that had heating coils to warm up the water just a little!

Mama Morales cooked us breakfast the next morning. It was great. Eggs, bread, papaya drink and choclo. I don't know if I spelled it right but it's those big kernals of corn

We ran into some Missionaries shopping the next day. I was them once! (except a girl)

We had timed our trip so we could be in Otavalo on a Saturday for the ferria. Everything was cheap and we had a lot of fun. I even bought some pants that look more like a bright, shiny tablecloth! I love them!

So So cool!

In the Morales sweater shop. We each bought one for just $15. As it turned out we need them because it was quite cold. Lots different than the coastal area

Then Cesar, the son of President Morales took us to Peguche Falls. When I went there was not trail and nobody ever went there. We had to hike through agriculture fields to find it

I do remember hiking along this ditch and it's just so cool that now I am doing it with my daughter!

There was this really great Pie shop we used to go to. It's still there and still has really good pie! It's called "The Pie Shop" and its just off the main square where the market or ferria is

Emerald bought this awesome Panama hat, pants, a cute outfit for Pepper the grandchild, a purse or backpack and llama key chains

Oh ya and a limon

This was my bishop 30 years ago!

Flashback: Bishops wife and daughter!
Melissa and Cassidy stayed with Cesar and his family just down the street from his dad. It was a nice new home and quite modern. He leased the downstairs for businesses

A pizza dinner and it was delicious. When you stay with the locals you know right where to eat!

We went to Stake Conference on Sunday and except for missionaries we were the only foreigners there. This cute little guy sat in front of us

After church, Cesar drove us to Cuicocha

There was something going on. The guys in back have sticks with dead chickens tied to it

Yep my tablecloth pants! Everyone knew without a doubt that I was a tourist! Cuicocha is a crater lake and until a few years ago they didn't know how deep it was. It's very very deep:)

We took a boat ride around it

Flashback: This awesome member family took us for a picnic here. There was nobody around and I have a much better companion this time!

Cassidy and Emerald

Then we went to a town on the way back that just sells mostly leather items. And there were these cute bikes

Almost every town we went to had these cool signs

Cesar's house. It was hard to leave these wonderful people

I went up to the roof of where we stayed and took some pictures of the view. There are a lot more tall buildings and its a lot bigger city now

I dried my clothes here and spent many warm siesta afternoons up here writing in my journal

I really learned to love this mountain!

Mitad Del Mundo
Or rather Middle of the world

Feet in two hemispheres!

Then we headed over to the mission home which is still in the same place
I don't think we had nice computers though

We stayed in the five star Marriott for one night which was just awesome! For dinner we found a place to buy menestra.

El Panecillo

The next day we left for Banos but stopped to see some things in Quito like the Panecillo. We called it the big chicken. It's a statue of the Virgin Mary that I was told by my latina companions had been prophesied to come alive at the last days and fly around the world 7 times and then land with both feet on the Basilica which will just be finished in time.

I took this picture with my telephoto lens of the Basilica- "The Basilica of the National Vow is a Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Quito, Ecuador. It is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. Wikipedia"   
There are some gorgeous views from the Panecillo and Quito has grown incredibly since I was there last

We accidentally took a little detour West of Quito instead of South which cost us and extra hour and a half but it was well worth it. Here we all are in our glory with our 17 suitcases!

I got to be kissed by this cute guy while on the detour!

I was totally excited to eat at Pollos Gus on the way to Banos. It was my favorite place on the mission and they still give you the plastic gloves to eat your chicken!
Ecuadorian helado or Ice cream and it was yummy!


These pictures do not do the countryside justice

Banos is about half way between the tops of the Andes and the coast. It's still cool and very wet

This was our hostel and it was decent and only $7 per head. They use US dollars in Ecuador now

We each got our own bed!

The next day we went exploring. We drove up above the city and found this awesome swing that swings out over the cliff. I was the first one brave enough to try it out and then we all had some great fun! It was a foggy rainy day but it didn't stop us.

Then we found a place to zip line across this raging, muddy river

You can sit

Or you can fly which is what I did of course!

It had been raining heavily and on the way back there had been a mud slide that covered the road so we were in traffic for about and hour before we went back to the town and had lunch of empanadas. You could choose beef, chicken, cheese, raspberry or any other fruit and they were so yummy!

After the road was cleared we found this other zip line that went over a huge waterfall and even Carmen was brave enough to go this time. Almost everything was a first for her

Cassidy and Emerald

Nefi and I found a guy to take us down to the waterfall in a gondola which was extremely cool. They had been shut down because of all the rain but he agreed to take just us for like $2. I walked over to the waterfall but it was gated off because it was too dangerous

Way, way cool!

The public kitchen at our hostel saved us some money!

After Banos we headed to Alausi for some more fun. The farm fields were just beautiful on the drive. The red plant is Quinoa


Still not on the coast but not extremely high, we stayed at this hostel. It was run by a guy from New York and he inherited it from his parents. He spent his time between there and here and spoke perfect English and Spanish. At night we sat around a fire and talked. There was a Swiss couple also staying there and they drove up in a camper

We had Empanadas again for dinner and they were so good. We watched her prepare them and cook them fresh for us

Our main reason for coming here was to take the train that winds backwards and forwards up the mountain. It's run for tourists now but originally it was built to haul goods

At the end of the destination there was dancers,shops and a museum to look at. Alausi was Emerald's favorite of  all the stops. She loved the train ride and where we stayed

They had a dancing show for us after we shopped and they brought us out to dance. It was pretty fun

Back on the train

After the train ride we walked around town, ate some pizza and then walked back to the hostel since we were there for two nights. On the way we saw this old bull fighting ring. They don't have bull fights anywhere anymore that I know of but I did see one on my mission

Our hostel from a distance

Driving back to Guayaquil was extremely beautiful and how I remember Ecuador

When we got to Guayaquil to stay at Carmen's it was extremely hot and humid and no air conditioning so we went to a nice mall and we ate at Burger King! It was so delicious. There was nothing like that 30 years ago and it reminded me of going home after a year and a half and having my first hamburger! This one was almost that good. We went with Carmen's son Walter

That night Walter opened his mission call which was too Columbia. He was older and so excited to go. We brought mission clothing for him from the states

Carmen has a cute little down syndrome niece named Jasmine that we all adored

So Christian (5th from the left) who came with the girls did am Eagle Scout project where he gathered donated money and clothing for poor prospective missionaries from Guayaquil. That's why we had 17 suitcases with us and most of them we left there. Even after all the clothing was gone we were chased down other Bishops who had missionaries who needed stuff. There was such a need and it was a really cool opportunity to be a part of it!

After that we went to the Guayaquil temple which wasn't around during my mission. It was beautiful! Now they have announced that they are building one in Quito!

After that we went to Carmen's sister's house and she made us this great meal

Then they all went swimming and I went with an old mission companion. Lourdes Ortega to a park with cool animals and to just hang out. She was excited when she heard I was coming and planned this time with me. I was very grateful though I had a hard time communicating with her. We did manage though.

It was really fun hanging out with them!
After the park Lourdes picked is all up and we went downtown to hike the hill at the Malecon. There were something like 750 steps to the top and then there was a cool lighthouse and you could see cool views of the city. It was kind of dangerous and they made me keep my nice camera in a back pack but we were in a group so it was pretty safe

That night there was a mission reunion held in our honor! It was the coolest part of the entire trip! One of my companions Hermana Cedeno (who is sitting by me) drove 5 hours to come and see me! She was so sweet! She got up and told a story about how we were only together for one month and we only had one baptism but she loved working with me because I loved to get out and work. She also said that the one young man we baptized turned out really great and his entire family was later baptized! It's stories like that I never get to hear. I knew almost all of the missionaries that came and they had very nice things to say about me which made me feel really good about my mission.

Elder Arteaga on the right came with his wife came from 3 hours away just to see me. I wasn't going to come until he heard I was going to be there. It was just so fun to see everyone!

Lourdes made dinner for us at her house on our last night and it was wonderful! She was the one who did all the cooking in our kitchen in Otavalo! She is a fabulous cook!

Leaving after a month of the most incredible trip ever! And missing these wonderful people so much already!