Finally getting to South America

So getting from Asia to South America is neither cheap nor quick but it had to be done. It was finally time to say goodbye to Asia (for now) and hello to Latin America. However along the way there was a short stopover in Amsterdam and an even shorter one in Madrid. Fair warning: there are two pictures of spiders in this post but I’ve spared you the photo of the cooked cuy (guinea pig) so count yourselves lucky.

 

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I loved Amsterdam. I arrived on King’s Day. My conclusion? The Dutch are animals
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Tulips of course
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Twelve hours in Madrid made for a very quick city tour. Cervantes, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The link being the only other time I was in Latin America (the central one) I read Don Quixote
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First stop in Ecuador was the city of Guayaquil. Most travellers are not big fans of Ecuador’s biggest city but for me it was a perfect introduction and a nice place to decompress for a couple of days. The park by the river was beautiful
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Plazas! Cathedrals and plazas, in my imagination there is nothing more Latin American than this
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The interesting thing was that this plaza was populated by more than your standard pigeons
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The pigeons had to play second fiddle to the dozens of iguanas. The pigeons had to wait their turn in this feeding frenzy
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Don’t try to tell me these guys aren’t dinosaurs
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Haven’t you ever seen a man hand feed fried plantain to iguanas in a park before?
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Some colourful houses on a hillside
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Guayaquil was the place for a famous meeting between that great man of Latin American independence Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín (who I’ve never heard of; must read more Wikipedia). This rotunda commemorates the event
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Guayaquil has a nice free museum. This was the first of many many panpipes
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After getting over my jetlag (I slept 12 hours every night) I made my way to Baños, the adventure capital of Ecuador. I hiked up to this, the so-called “Swing at the End of the World”. I was excited to visit this place as it had been in my mind ever since I’d seen pictures of it. There is a volcano in the background but at this time it was too misty
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I almost walked headfirst into this little guy but narrowly avoided wrecking his web (I say ‘his’ but I’ve no idea. Aren’t the males of a species generally more colourful?) My first encounter with Ecuadorean wildlife
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I did canyoning in Baños and the guides took photos but I forgot to get them. Needless to say it was a lot of fun but you’ll have to take my word for it. I journeyed on to Tena, a supposed gateway to the Amazon. It certainly was a dramatic drive down through the highlands to the jungle
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Walking through the jungle. You know it’s jungle when you have stuff growing on other stuff and then stuff growing on the stuff growing on stuff. That was a very technical description.
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Tena is famous for rafting! I was so happy to find a group to do it with. That was seriously exciting and fun. So dramatic when you’re going down rapids and the instructor is shouting “Go! Go! Go!” and cold water splashes about your face, extremely exhilarating
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I didn’t have time for a true trip out to the deep Amazon (well I had time but I chose to spend it elsewhere) so I settled for a day trip to a nature reserve. I nearly (again) walked right into this spider’s web. However I stopped just in time and then considered myself lucky to see such a colourful and strange, unusual spider. Although not big I thought it must be rare until I almost ran into dozens more along the path. I took to swinging a big stick in front of me to clear the way. That’s one positive of having a guide, they walk into all the webs for you haha.
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I’d read that this reserve had a tower you could climb. I had imagined a more substantial tower and climbing as in walking up steep steps. But no this was climbing a metal tower. There was a harness but looking back I think I would have probably been better off without it
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Made the top

 

Another warning: this is a video of a very sweaty me (and smelly but luckily not for you)

 

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The view was truly incredible
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A quick trip on the way back to visit the “Monkey Town” of Misahuallí
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There were indeed monkeys (capuchins I think) in the main square as advertised. It was a pleasure to watch them run around and play fight with each other

 

Next up: Quito and Volcano Valley

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2 thoughts on “Finally getting to South America

    1. Yeah it’s a very nice place. I think it was originally made famous by a fantastic National Geographic photo from a time when the volcano was erupting. Now there are swings all over the area!

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