Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Day 116: Our last day in Quito

Hi to you all.

A slow start this morning..... Some of us didn't get as much sleep as we would have liked! A concert in the cultural centre! Gave in and got earplugs out!!

After breakfast we went to the National Museum. Despite the hordes of school kids tearing around it was pretty good. I was particularly taken with the prehistoric exhibits. We were allowed to take photos but not to use the flash so I didn't get as many photos here as I would have liked.

Displays of flints.

Some amazing pottery figurines.

and collections of ceremonial and everyday items. These are ceramic bottles.

and some dioramas.

We went upstairs to the section covering the Spanish colonisation. It was interesting too but perhaps a bit whitewashed?

I wanted to give this one a shake to see if it snowed inside.

This was a serious looking bloke.

We went up to the photographic section which covered significant events in Quito's history. This took my eye. Any guesses on make and model? My dad used to have one of these!

We then wandered up the road for some lunch. I was feeling a bit crap,to be honest and couldn't face much but enjoyed the teddy bear on the coffee.

Which lasted right to the bottom.

That was clever. Shirl got the mother and child.

We spent the afternoon back at the hotel packing and getting a little organised. Then went out for dinner. Found a nice looking restaurant that turned out to be attached to the Mercure Hotel. I enjoyed the presentation of my veal. It tasted good too.

That was about our day. Off tomorrow to pick up the girls and head south. Hopefully I am feeling a bit better in the morn.


Location:Quito, Ecuador

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Day 115: A rest day in .... ummmmm ..... Quito, Ecuador

Greetings all.
They say that a change is as good as a rest. They don't know what they're talking about. I am struggling a bit with this chest infection. Not sure whether it is a side effect of the Diamox or just a random virus. Hic hac hoc might be good beginners' Latin but it is crap with broken ribs. Especially at 3am. Never mind. Shirley sprang out of bed at 7am this morning and I followed. I'm sure you get the picture. (Incidentally, one of the side effects of Diamox is that it makes carbonated drinks taste funny. And I thought there was something odd with Ecuadorean beer!)

We got a taxi and went out to Mr BMW to check on the girls. Goodness me it was a long way! Finally we got there to discover that everything had been done, they have been washed and they are ready to go. My front fork pinch bolt has been replaced so Shirl doesn't have to keep tightening the front axle all the time. And they've been washed - I had forgotten that Ebony was black.

Nice Mr BMW shouted us a taxi to the Panamericana office where we went to purchase our SOAT insurance. Silly boy, I had assumed it was ME being insured against the possibility that I might injure someone. But no, I needed all Ebony's details as well. I said an extremely rude word. Twice. Then we caught a taxi back to our hotel, collected the registration papers that have the VIN and engine numbers and went back. There was a bit of a queue now because - guess what! - in the time it took us to go to the hotel and return, the computer system had gone down. I said an extremely very rude word. Thrice!

While I waited Shirley went out to explore.

This is carrot cake with real fake carrots on top.

And so when she got back we went and had a coffee at the pastry shop - complete with armed guard - and then went back. Success at last. The system had been restored, our insurance was completed and we were charged $3.08. Initially I assumed that this was the cost for the little plastic wallet that the insurance permit comes in. But no, that was it. It only took two and a half hours but now I have a little sticker that I can stick on the windscreen. Or somewhere.

We took another taxi back to the hotel. I was planning to wash the disgusting bike pants that I got out of a pannier this morning but Shirl decided to send them to the laundry. We put them in at 1.30pm and they were back washed, ironed and folded by 6pm. Not bad eh?

We went out for a beer and to check to see if my taste buds had been restored. Almost. Then we came back and because it was so cold and miserable we just had dinner in the hotel and met up with Diana fresh back for her tour to the Galapagos.

And that's about it. Just a quiet day tomorrow. Tomorrow we'll go back to being tourists.

And that was our day. Good night. :-)
Today's run: 0kms
Cumulative: 27,996kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Quito, Ecuador.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Day 114: another yes another rest day in Quito, Ecuador

Greetings travellers
A bit of a funny old day today. I have got some kind of blasted coughing lurghy which keeps me hacking away into the night. Not the best for my ribs or for swmbo. Or for me for that matter.

Anyway we were up and out pretty early in the morning because we wanted to go and see the church with all the gold leaf. We had a quick buffet breakfast and got sorted. It was around then we discovered there were two of these churches: Iglesia de La Compania De Jesus and Capilla Iglesia Santo Domingo. We went to the former. Becoming wise in such matters we established a price before leaving - which is just as well because we hit a huge impassable traffic jam that the poor driver tried many times to negotiate around before suggesting that we get out and walk.

So we did. Almost immediately the cause of the jam became apparent. The President was having some kind of a review of the troops or of the day or something which we never did quite work out.

I think one of these is the President.

Lots of school kids were there to support the occasion.

There were also real soldiers hidden around to support those in 18th century uniforms and armoury. I'm not sure that this one was soooo pleased to have his photo taken.

Well the band played, the horses trotted

and the lancers marched.

And the flag was presented.

And the National Anthem was sung lustily by all involved.

Then almost immediately afterwards the demonstrators emerged.

We weren't sure what they were demonstrating for or against but it seemed pretty healthy in a state with such heavily armed policy and military.

Animated conversations began in small groups like this one.

Well with all the excitement over we went round the corner to the church. It was quite quite extraordinary. I have never seen so much gold in my life. The church is set out in a Latin cross with little avenues running east and west with huge carvings coated with gold at every end. Photography is prohibited but you can see some and a description here:

We took a taxi back to our hotel and got packed up and moved to a new hotel. Not just because it is cheaper but because it is where D&D will be staying. We can then all go,out to Mr BMW together early on Thursday morning?

We then went hunting for the insurance office where we could buy our compulsory SOAT. This is an insurance that pays out to the victims of vehicle accidents. Well we knew the office was in the same street as the hotel. And we knew the number was 1492. What we didn't realise was that the numbers had a distinct and idiosyncratic mind of their own. We walked. And we walked. And we walked. Suddenly, nothing happened. Yes it did! The even numbers went from our side of the street to the other side of the street. And then, and then .... we saw our building. What now we thought?

Don't be silly - go in of course. There we were confronted by an armed guard. We had to state our purpose. Which we did but as he spoke less English than we spoke espanol it wasn't a great help. We had to leave ID with him before he would let us in. I wasn't prepared to leave my passport. I was going to leave my drivers's licence then thought .... no, I'll need those for the insurance. Finally the queue behind us bulged so much he gave us a personal escort. Armed of course. Here, even the guards at supermarkets are armed!

And so we went upstairs. "Oh no," said the nice young man, "not here. You'll have to go to a supermarket." A supermarket to buy insurance? Ok, why not. And so we tramped through the rain - did I say it had started to rain? - to the supermarket. Suddenly, nothing happened. Yes it did. We saw a NYM (nice young man) sitting at a school desk marked SOAT selling SOAT to customers. "Hurray!" we shouted and with licence, passport and a bundle of money in hand we approached. "Oh no," said the NYM. "Not here. You'll have to go to the place where foreigners buy SOAT." At this point it was nearly 5pm, very wet and I said a very naughty word. Under my breath. So the NYM gave us another address which is only 5.8kms away and according to Google Maps will only take us 57.4 minutes to walk. It can wait.

The rain having set in we decided to eat at the hotel. Nothing special but goat stew on the menu for the first time that I have seen. So .... because my brother is a distributor of goat meat I thought I would do a quality check on his behalf. And do you know what? No you don't. It was not bad. Not bad at all.

And that was our day. Good night. :-)

Today's run: 0kms
Cumulative: 27,996kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Quito, Ecuador.

Day 113: Exploring Quito with Shirley

Hello everyone
It's Shirley here. Today I am going to write the blog. Not for any particular reason but just because we thought it might be fun!

It was very quiet here this morning after a very noisy Saturday evening, Spot the difference:



Avenue Rio Amazonas and a number of the surrounding streets are closed to motorised vehicles every Sunday for cyclists, runners and wheelchair speedsters. Families were out in force.

We didn't do any running but we did do some walking - looking for a breakfast. Lots were closed but the few that were open were filled with blokes having breakfast with beer accompaniments!

Then we took a taxi up to the cable car. $6 for seniors! Well that sounded like us. Here is the view from the base of the cable car.

Quite a few people were taking their bikes to the top!

And some monks waiting to take the trip.

I chose to go with my back to the view.

Once I was at the top I was fine.

So were the views.

We were at 4,050 metres asl.

Ken found this altitude a little breathtaking and breathless-making!

These are for you Lorraine with your new mountain bike.

We had a coffee (capuchino made with Nescafé) and headed on down. This time I was in the seat looking downwards at the view. I was ok. A grandmother in the seat opposite told me not to be scared.

At the bottom we had quite a wait for a taxi and then went to the Botanical Gardens. Lots of orchids. Ecuador claims to be native to 96% of the world's orchids.

And lots of plants that feed on animals. By drowning?

Smelling of rotten meat?

This was in the carnivore area but I'm not sure how it worked.

This was an educational section.

Different types of corn and maize.

A baby pineapple

And huge-trucked banana plants.

A walk through the park with lots of families enjoying the sun.

A clown entertaining the traffic stopped at the red lights.

And so we walked back to the hotel for a late lunch. Ekki and Phil, two of our friends from the Stahlratte have arrived and are staying in a hostel just down the road so we went to say hello. They didn't enjoy the closed roads quite as much as us as they were trying to GPS navigate to their hostel. GPS don't necessarily understand that on Sundays certain roads get closed.

We started to have a big pack up because we are moving to a new hotel tomorrow. We had a nice dinner at a restaurant tipico. After our late lunch we weren't very hungry so just had skewers and salad. They were very good.

And some red wine in funny glasses.

Which we repeated in my watermelon-free fruit salad.

Love to Lachie and James and to everyone.

Today's run: 0kms
Cumulative: 27,996kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Quito, Ecuador