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Ecuador so far....

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We made it in to Ecuador and after bumping around on the back of a truck for two hours, we reached our first stop, a lovely town called Vilcabamba. The town is right in the middle of ┬┤the valley of longevity┬┤, apparently famous for having tons of people that live over 100. We saw quite a few old people but most of them seemed to have been decaying foreigners who had settled down in the town in an attempt to stave off the inevitable. We stayed here for a few days enjoying the moderate climate and relaxing atmosphere but after a few day we decided to move on to a small town in the oriente (Ecuadors Amazonian section). We stayed in a sleepy town called Zamora for the night which had a nice river front but not much else and then set off on foot to the tropical section of Parque Nacional Podocarpus. The walk was a hot, dusty and sweaty affair but it was worth it once we reached the park which had some really nice trails (spider free!) through the jungle and to some nice waterfalls, and some crystal clear rivers which we had a swim in (despite them being freezing cold).

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We camped there for a night and got up early to go monkey spotting in the forest. We didnt see any monkeys, but we did see some birds unique to the park (with big long noses/beaks) and a load of animal tracks. In fact in the night, we heard some large animal attacking the bin in the campsite in an attempt to get the remains of our tuna salad dinner. After hiking halfway back and then riding the rest of the way in a nice American mans pickup, we caught a series of busses to our next stop, Cuenca.

Cuenca was a nice colonial town (which we have seen a lot of) with some old buildings and cathedrals.

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We had a stroll round the town and found an awesome museum about the ethnography of the country and all the indiginous cultures. Best bit by far was this section on the jungle that was decked out with fibreglass trees and stuff and had a collection of shrunken heads on display. Weird looking things, they look just like miniature human heads, which they are. Some of them even had little moustaches which were pretty funny.

After a bit more exploring (and checking out a hat museum where they make monticristi hats- known widely as panama hats), we had seen enough of colonial towns and so headed down to the coast.

We stopped for two nights in Ecuadors largest city Guayaquil, where we struggled to find a bus heading towards the center. When we did,we had to struggle onboard with great difficulty because of our wide packs, and then quickly zipped straight past where we had intended to get off- leaving us stranded in the middle of a dodgy neighborhood with no idea where we were. Eventually with the help of a lonely planet map, we found our way to a hotel, where we checked in and relaxed in front of some english television.

The next day we had a wander around Guayaquils recently restored seafront which was quite nice and came across our favourite plaza so far- which was alive with hundreds of curious iguanas, chilling in the trees and occasionally wandering over to sniff peoples toes.

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After a day in Guayaquil, we headed off again, to a town called Montanita, popular with surfers and hippies that make jewellery where we spent a day and a bit chilling on the nice beach and drinking cheap caiparinias and beer. Our peace only interrupted in the middle of one night by the hostel owner going mental at her boyfriend in the room next door.

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Posted by St Martins 15:00 Archived in Ecuador Tagged shopping

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