Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Journey to Ecuador

In mid-January I headed to Ecuador. It is a beautiful country, has great diversity of landscape, cultures, wildlife, and lifestyles. A half dozen or so blog postings follow this one highlighting some of the areas I visited in Ecuador. They include photos and some text on the ancient Inca and Canari ruins at Ingapirca to the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, from the indigenous cultures and crafts of Otavalo to the hummingbirds and butterflies of the Mindo rain forest, from the bustling modern metropolis of Quito to the quieter streets of Cuenca and small towns, and from hot springs to Panama Hats, to the people of the country.

So, why Ecuador? Besides the fact I hadn't traveled in South America before, the specific reason for Ecuador at this point, was an invitation from fellow Yellowstone employees Ana Maria Castro and Ted Wacker. This wonderful couple, one from Ecuador, one from Oregon, met and married in Yellowstone. I met Ted first, during driver training in 2008. I could go on to tell you that Ted and I shared a cabin during training. In actuality he and Don shared a room, I had the room next door but we shared the shower facility.

I was invited to Ted and Ana Maria's wedding, but had to drive that day. But at the end of my tour, before refueling the bus, I drove by the Lake Lodge where the reception was winding down on the front porch.

Ana Maria and Ted met me at the airport in Quito and drove me to their condo overlooking the city. That was my base for my three-and-a-half week stay. Most often we traveled together. Occasionally I took off on my own while they had other plans. I was included in family gatherings and some of Ana Maria's many mini-reunions. It gave me a closer look at life in modern Ecuador than I would have had as a tourist.

So, here are some photos, a little text, and a lead into all the other postings which follow. The photo at the top is of Quito in the evening. Dusk comes slowly and is accompanied by lights coming on. We sat on the balcony of a small restaurant, sipping hot chocolate with cheese. Chunks of cheese are added to the hot chocolate. Sounds strange, but it is tasty, although Ana Maria said the cheese the restaurant used wasn't soft enough to melt properly. can enlarge photos by clicking on the one you want to see enlarged. And when you get to the bottom of the page, you can go to the earlier page to see the other Ecuador postings.

Birthday party for Ted (end of table) and Elsie (far left) who is Ana Maria's sister. Other faces that show are sister Susy and son Francisco. His wife of whom only the shiny black hair shows is expecting Ana Maria's first grandson in April.

The birthday party included the 4 sisters and their adult children, spouses and some girlfriend\boyfriends. Javier, standing, is Ana Maria's son. Jose, seated, hopes to work in Yellowstone this summer.

Ana Maria worked for many years at the US Embassy in Quito. This was a gathering of some of the women she worked with. The setting for both parties was Achiote Restaurant, which belongs to her sister Lucy and her husband and sons. Great family, great restaurant. I had several occassions to converse with the sons on topics ranging from photography to education to food. Ana Maria also worked in the Peace Corp headquarters in Ecuador. We had a gathering of some of the former Peace Corp volunteers who married and stayed in the country. Fun, interesting groups of people.

Scenes around the city. There are plenty of open squares and parks where people gather. The large billboards in the scene above relate to the recent declaration of Quito as a World Heritage site. There are taxis everywhere, streets are narrow, and pedestrians must use caution as they do not have the right of way as I am used to. The building above the cabs was once the home of Ana Maria's great-grandparents. The statue is the Winged Virgin which overlooks the city. You can also see it in the dusk shot of Quito that begins this blog posting.

This view is from Javier's apartment. (The family calls him Javi). Like San Francisco, Quito is built on hills, with plenty of steep, winding roads, staircases, and traffic congestion. Families enjoy one of the squares on the way home from school.

Below, some of the people around town.

No comments:

Post a Comment