Friday, March 11, 2016

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better... we're on a BOAT!!

Bienvenidos a Ecuador!
After spending 10 days in Maicao to get our bikes back into Colombia, the border crossing with Ecuador was a breeze. Within the hour we are riding in yet another country. Instantly the differences are clear. No garbage on the side of the road, plenty of road signs, more orderly traffic and not one single motorcycle other than our packed Honda’s. Although we are delighted by the lack of garbage and organized traffic there is something missing... After a few minutes we realize it is the presence of Colombians. Not that the Ecuadorians are not nice to us but we have grown accustomed to the atmosphere and the warmth of the people, the beautiful smiles and the ever-present music. 


The first thing on our agenda is a bit different. Azure wants to visit this cemetery she has heard of. I offer to look after the bikes while she checks it out. I figure she will only take a few minutes. How much time can one spend at a graveyard…? Half an hour later my “No Hablo Espanyol” is wearing out with the cops that are trying to make me understand that I am not allowed to park on the sidewalk we are on. I keep playing dumb and point them to the map on my top case. The parking issue is quickly forgotten upon seeing the route we have traveled to see their town. 

The police checking out the map while I pose for pictures.



Upon Azure's return she exclaims: “ you have to see this”! I instruct her to act like she doesn't speak Spanish and leave her with the cops to have quick look myself. I walk around the corner and I am awestruck………. by the beauty of this place. It is more like a botanical garden than a cemetery. I find myself getting lost between the artfully shaped bushes and trees.



When I return 20 minutes later I find Azure happily chatting away in Spanish to the cops who wish us a good and safe journey through their country. 
 
We ride the perfectly paved highway towards Quito. It leads through a dry mountainous landscape with a canyon here and there. It is incredibly hot and we break up the ride with a long siesta. Later in the afternoon we visit a market where women and men in traditional clothing sell their colorful wares. Though we could have wandered around here for hours we are back on the bikes again in no time. Azure’s mom has found the time to pay us a visit and we need to get her from the airport the next day. Not only are we overjoyed to see her again, we love sharing our travels with our parents and what better way is there to show them this amazing world first hand. Just before dark we make it to suburbs of Quito. We ride up a dirt road and find a perfect camping spot overlooking the city with more and more lights turning on in the city below every second. Sadly there is no phone reception and we need to call through one more order from the US before Azure’s mom is airborne. We ride into the busy traffic of Quito and not long after find a hostel.

3 suitcases. 10% Nancy-things. 90% chains, sprockets, peanut-butter, etc. She's the best!!
After being reunited with Azure's Mom, Nancy, at the airport, we spend the rest of the day checking out the old town of Quito with impressive squares and, literally, golden churches. Nancy gets to dance to some local music and we are having a great time. 







That time Nancy got a marriage proposal on her first day in Ecuador.
And then I had to step in and break the poor guy's heart ;)
What it looks like when we "move into" a hotel... they must have loved us... hahaha
Although we have formed a bit of a plan to see the beautiful countryside of Ecuador, the three of us still have a deep wish to visit the Galapagos Islands. The following day we check out the last minute rates and to our surprise, find a great deal... 80% off of a 4-day liveaboard boat cruise around the islands. The decision is made. We store the bikes at the hotel we are staying at with Nancy and prepare to see this natural wonder of the world with its rare and colorful species from atop a boat.

If you're heading to Ecuador and want to check out good last minute deal, this guy, Luis Tipan, is GREAT!
Before you touch down on the Galapagos you spot your first sea lions and birds. A short taxi ride gets you to the harbor where you stumble upon sea lions taking up whole staircases to soak up the sun. What an amazing sight! 


 
We spend the next days landing on heavenly beaches, walking and snorkeling around, spotting one species after the other and learning a great deal about the islands and it’s inhabitants, both human and animals. I never knew that Darwin’s evolution theory was born here and truly enjoyed listening to the guide explaining how it was born. 

The famous Blue Footed Booby
 



Iguana Love.

 

 


We have a great time together enjoying all these natural wonders and being together as a family. Snorkeling with sea lions and spotting hammerheads are the highlights of our time on the islands. For not having snorkeled in a few years, Nancy does a great job and doesn't even protest when Azure drops her hand and goes swimming off to take a picture of a passing shark. 

Truly a dream-come-true to be in the water with these guys!
 
The days fly by and before we know it we are back on the mainland where we spend our last days together visiting a hot spring and the geographical center of the earth. Experiencing all this with one of our parents is the greatest gift. It makes us see again how special it is what we do on a daily basis; to enjoy this beautiful world and to get to know the amazing people and animals that live on it. Thank you, Nancy, for making something we thought impossible, possible.... for making our dreams come true. 

We hope we get to share its beauty with the rest of parents and siblings in the near future. For now we are back on two wheels again and looking forward to discover the rest of the continent. 


Papallacta Hot Springs

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