Thursday, January 21, 2010

Photos- Day Trips from Quito (last batch for the trip)

On the Saturday we arrived, they took us on a short trip north of the Equator.

We had lunch on the edge of a volcanic caldera:

On the way, we passed a restaurant serving an Ecuadoran speciality: guinea pig

Despite being on the equator, the height of the mountains and the cloud cover made it quite cool.

Afterwards we went to the equatorial monument. This is where the French geographers determined the line to be. Unfortunately, GPS has shown that they were off by about 80 meters.

This is the actual line of the equator, which we went to on our second day trip from Quito.

(dad is standing between Nancy and Ed, with whom we spent the day touring)

I enjoyed much more, though, visiting a traditional bakery in Cayambe, with its wood-fired oven:

and hand-crafted pastries:

We had great views of the volcanic countryside near Otavalo:

From there we went to the famous Otavalo indigenous market,

And the people who worked there:

And here's where the locals ate:

We drove up to Cuicoche Lake National Park:

Where we had a great view of the Imbabura volcano and Otavalo beneath it:

From there we went to the leather goods center of Cotacachi so dad could buy a new wallet:

I particularly liked the views of the volcano:

While dad liked this graffiti (after I explained what it meant):

We went for lunch at Hacienda Cusin, an 18th-century inn and restaurant near Otavalo:

Dad really liked the flowers near our table:

Photos - Quito

Our first arrival into Quito was at 2 am, so I'll show you what it looked like when we landed the second time:

This crowd was here to greet the Guayaquil soccer team, arriving on the next flight:

I tried to get a photo of the guy with the Che Guevara flag, but I could only get this:

Of course, people were selling items at intersections:

Dad loved all the flowers in the hotel. Raising and exporting flowers is one of Ecuador's prime commodities.

The first time we stayed in Quito, our view was of the back parking lot. The second time, we looked out towards the mountains:

Much of the center of Quito is colonial:

There's the presidential palace:

With its guards and gardens:

Of course, there are many churches:

But there are also locals:

Photos - Puerto Ayora

Our last full day in the Galapagos, we visited Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island. Our first stop was the Charles Darwin Center to see the giant tortoises in their breeding program. At one point there were close to 250,000 of these tortoises in the islands. Now their population has been restored to about 15,000.

We started off by looking at the babies,

The we moved on to see their adults, who are part of the project for promoting tortoise reproduction:

Galapagos land tortoises have no teeth:

We had no problem getting quite close to them:

(From left to right: Jerusha and her husband John [in the knee-high socks], just behind him Bill Daley [retired from ASU], I can't remember the names of the next two women [but the one with the yellow windbreaker often commented to me how impressed she was with dad's stamina. Dad thought the guy with the Berkeley shirt had Norm Fisch's sense of humor. The guy to the right of dad with the large camera was from the French speaking part of Belgium, and the guy bending over was Mark from Houston).

After much imploring, dad took my picture with the tortoise:

In the afternoon we went up into the highlands to see the tortoises in the wild:

As before, we could very close:

This tortoise felt threatened by all the people standing behind it, so it pulled in its head and hissed at us.

Just after I left, this tortoise went head to head with the one next to him.

After seeing the tortoises, we went inside some lava tunnels near by.

We could see inside because part of the roof had collapsed

This should give you a good idea of the vegetation in the middle part of the island, half way up from the coast:

I asked dad if he thought it was humid, but he said "no." What he meant was that he wasn't bothered by the 90% humidity.

Puerto Ayora is one of the largest towns in the Galapagos. It has a harbor:

and a fairly interesting fish market:

(that's Victor in the back in the blue shirt. He and his wife Ann brought their college-aged daughter and graduate student son on the trip with them).

I particularly liked the way the sea lion wanted everyone to know that this was his fish.

As we left for the ship, we passed what looked like a pick-up volleyball game, right by the docks: