After the craziness of the Galapagos we returned to Quito. Of course we had to do the main tourist attraction in Quito- the equator museum. A random tour later and we had walked the equator, learnt that it is strangely easy to balance an egg on the equator (I was awarded an egg master certificate – something to put on the CV), watched the different flow of water on the equator compared to in the southern and northern hemisphere, and found that you are way weaker on the equator. A strange but entertaining outing. Afterwards we headed to the new town area of the city to an artisan market before dinner and saying goodbye to our new found friends. I sneakily stayed in Aoife’s hotel room that night and as our Austrailian friends had left at five am, I also ate their amazing buffet breakfast share the next morning!
The next day, I headed to Minka hostel near the old town where I met up with some of the girls from my Peru trip – it was lovely to be reunited with them! Despite what I had heard, I like Quito as a city. I visited the Virgin Mary angel figure that provides a viewpoint over the city. Unfortunately in Ecuador they are entering the rainy season, so it tends to be quite grey making the viewpoint a little less stunning then it probably usually is.
Whilst in Quito I also went on a free city tour; and interestingly learnt that their local healers believe that guinea pigs, particularly black ones have healing powers. Apparantly if someone has a complaint e.g stomach pain, the guinea pig is hovered over their whole body, then killed, and when opened up the corresponding affected body part of the guinea pig will be black as it has sucked the disease/infection out.
The following day I headed on an outing to a volcano with the girls from Peru. We stopped off at a market which was pretty distressing from an animal welfare perspective- hundreds of guinea pigs in sacks, rabbits over heating in the sun with no water, chickens tied up by their legs in piles on the floor…really brought it home how ethical the UK farming system is. We arrived at the summit of the Quilotoa volcano from which we hiked down into the crater. It was so windy and as the path was made from sand, we were literally getting sand blasted…an unpleasant walk with spectacular views! The crater is filled with water that is a beautiful aquamarine colour. After an epic climb back up to the top of the crater (against the wind and struggling in deep sand) we had lunch before setting on the road again.
We stopped off at a bull fight on the way back where the bull was being teased by copious people running into the ring and waving things at it…the bull did get its revenge by forcing a man up a pole in the middle of the ring and barging at the pole. The only saving grace of this spectacle is that we were told that in local bull fights it is illegal to kill the bill at the end. Our final stop before heading back to the hostel was a look at an indigenous persons house. The houses were built into the ground providing protection from the wind and wood and straw materials used for the rest of the structure. I side there were hundreds of guinea pigs at our feet…definitely put me off eating another one!
That evening I had a night bus to catch…it was time to enter the Jungle!