Panama to Ecuador

We made it to South America.  Our month in Quito has welcomed us with friendly smiles and helpful directions into this valley in the Andes. 

We´re officially famous now.  Read another version of our Panama Canal Transit on Mahina Tiare website, and in the SF based sailing rag Latitude 38.  They´re the very nice folks that we tied up to, I think they express a bit better the close calls we had with the walls of the Panama Canal.   

We left our little Hebe berthed in Careening Cay Marina for the 9 or so months we´re backpacking through South America.  We took a boat, to a boat, to a pickup truck, to a mini-van, to a bus to a plane, to a cab to a hotel that didn´t have room for us. We walked, got lost, took another cab and finally fell asleep.  It was a long two days.  But we made it! Quito, Ecuador, the land of eternal spring, framed by gorgeous green Andean mountains.  Think Sound of Music but much higher up. The weather is beautiful, if a bit cool, the people friendly enough that it almost takes me aback.  After the coolness I felt from the Panamanians, an Ecuadorian walking us over to our bus with a smile was a relief.

We´ve started Spanish School, hiked up an old volcano in the Andes called Pasochoa, accepted a volunteer position chasing monkeys for a week and tracking bears in the Andes for six weeks in August and watched a lot of futball in the World Cup.  When Ecuador won their first game the city of Quito erupted into celebration.  Buses packed with people and a full band were driving around town. 

We met up with Bill from our buddy boat Que Onda. He sailed to Ecuador from Panama, and came up to Quito to hang.  His was a twelve day passage to weather (meaning against the wind and waves, with the boat tipped to 20+ degrees) and a happy landing in Bahia Caracas.  Keeping at least a hundred miles offshore of Columbia is an important part of his passage too. 

We also met up with my sister Alisa too! So good to see her after almost a half a year.  She´s been here about 2 weeks so far, we´ve been to the equator (both the fake one with the big monument, and the real one), the hot springs in the cloud forest of Papallacta, horseback riding high up in the mountains, and to Baños for more horseback riding and a night of watching and listening to a volcano erupt.  We´re all back in Quito now for another week of Spanish school before she (sniff sniff) leaves to return to the states.

Papallacta was great.  Two days soaking in this fancy resorts´ natural hotsprings that ranges from scalding to freezing cold.  It´s all set up right next to a freezing river that you can lay down in, and just up the valley starts a great trail along the same river with loads of orchids and bromiliads.  I saw two orchids in bloom!   A great hike, fresh trout (for breakfast, lunch and dinner), and a room with a fantastic view rounded it all out. 

Then we went horseback riding for two days and a night with Alísa´s spanish teacher and cowboy.  That´s been our favorite thing so far.  Two days spent high up in the mountains, across grassy plains, galloping across fields of wildflowers, a night in a cabin, trotting through a herd of sheeps and saying hi to the shepards.  It was amazing, like out of a dream.  Unfortunately I fell off my horse at a full gallop across one of those gorgeous flower-filled fields and rolled under her back hoofs.  Bill, who witnessed it claimed I should be a stunt woman for the drop and roll I executed.  :-)  I have no cool injuries to show for it unfortunately, as the horse´s hoof just barely kissed my ear and head.  We also had the adrenaline rush of putting out two different fires on the roof of the kitchen cabin as we cooked.  I´m proud to say I was not cooking. The roof is old, dry thatch, and wow it burns.  We all thought of different things to do first, and it ended up surprisingly well.  Bill saved the day by getting the propane tank and stove out from the cabin and into the field. 

The state department apparently recommends that we shouldn´t go to Baños, as the volcano is erupting almost continuously.  After I finally saw and heard it the second night we were in Baños, I couldn´t agree more.  We left the next day.  It was very dramatic though, I went at night and the red lava was shooting up hundreds of feet in the air.  The rumble sounded like a thunderstorm almost on top of us.   We went for a horseback ride in the surrounding mountains, just for the day this time, at stopped at some cascades.  Pretty setting for a town, but a bit too touristy for my taste. 

Here´s a few more pics of our time in Ecuador...

Tim taking it easy up to Pasochoa

Tim and Alisa climbing to the top

Me at Pasochoa´s summit


The Pavlick sisters keepin the Jersey riffraff outta the northern hemisphere

Alisa on the hike by Papallacta

Bandits ready to ride

Tim riding over the hill

There was something interesting over there...

Jose putting out the first fire on the roof

Tim and Bill riding off into the distance

Us at a waterfall in Baños