Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Huaraz, Peru 14-17 Nov 2011

Huaraz is a heaven for trekkers. It’s located in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru’s Central Sierra @ 3100m. We arrived early in the morning and immediately froze with the cold temperature when we step out from the bus. We had a couch here but our host is not in town, he is so kind to let us stay in his house even though he is away. We had to collect his house key from a friend of his at a travel agency. While we were walking to find the travel agency, from the street we could view the range of ice cap Mountains on the east and the black mountain on the west. Wow! It was beautiful! We definitely want to climb to one of the mountain or near to one of that.

We finally found the agency and Ivan’s friend Wilder, he showed us to Ivan’s house. It was a simple house with 2 bed, we had the house key and we are free to use the place. We are really thankful to him. To arrive at such altitude and cold temperature, we find it difficult to breath. Normally we need a day or two to acclimatize to the change in atmosphere but we don’t have so many days. We took a few hours sleep and then head to the nearby ruinas - Wilcawain. It is about 10km from town. We decided to walk, we did it slow and easy walking pass small villages and farms, we saw plenty of cows, sheep, pony and pigs. Locals are very friendly and helpful when we needed some directions. We stopped for lunch at a small stall, it started to rain heavily. We were told we are only 10 mins away from the ruinas, we have to finish it since we have made it so far! We walked in the rain uphill to finally arrived at the ruinas but it was still pouring. We need to pay to enter to the area, but we decided not to enter because of the rain. Haha! We made it this far to the gate not to visit the ruinas anyway we have a good walk as a warm up for the next day trek. To return we took the mini van back to town. The mini van was for 12 people but I think they are 20 squeeze inside.

In the evening, we met 2 French gals who were couchsurfing with Ivan the day before, they were leaving at night. They told us about the trek to Lake 69, it was better than the one we wanted to do. The trip starts with a 3 hours on 2 bus ride to the nearest town and then a 5-6 hours trek to the lake and back. We were up for this trip! In the evening, it started to rain and continues the entire night. Our alarm clock rings at 4:15am, we woke up but it was still raining. Don’t think it is nice to trek with the rain. We decided change our plan to trek to another lake which is closer to Huancayo, with this we can leave later at 7am with hope that the rain will stop by then. We continue to sleep to 6:30am, we are not so lucky this time, it’s still drizzling and cloudy! We have to cancel the trekking plan.

So no trekking, we signed up for a day trip to Lake Querococha and Chavin ruinas. We had magnificent view on the way to the lake and ruinas. We were able to see snow capped mountain hidden behind the range of dried and desert mountains. We passed a tunnel which is located at 4516m. Arriving at the ruinas around 1:30pm, the guide gave everyone a tour in Spanish, at the beginning I was trying to understand all what he is trying to say but I gave up half way. :-( During lunch a gal ordered fried guinea pig, a common peruvian food that everyone must try. She lets me taste a small piece, it doesn't taste like chicken for sure. I won't have able to finish the entire plate.

It was a long day especially when our bus was half working one the way back. The first gear seems to be a big problem and we need to cross the mountain @ 4516m, it’s not really the best time not to have your first gear working properly, we stopped many times to pour water into the engine so that the driver can start the engine again. We finally made it back to Huancayo at 9:45pm.
We both think we had enough of the mountain and decided to take the bus the next morning to back to Lima. The advantage of taking a day bus is we will be able to admire breathtaking view on the mountains and wilderness. Surely we had an amazing view all the way to Lima. We even lost count of time and found the trip pretty short. :-)

Huaraz  - Couchsurfing

Bus from Huaraz to Lima – S30 (Economy)

Day trip to Lake Querococha and Chavin ruinas – S35
Entrance to Chavin ruinas – S5

Lima, Peru 11-14 Nov 2011

Desert all the way from Piura to Lima
We arrived in Lima the capital city of Peru after 15 hours of bus ride, the first noticeable thing in Peru is  that the country is very dirty, there are rubbish all along the highway from Piura to Lima and there are lots of houses that are made of just straws or bamboo along the road. It reminds me of India but not as bad as India.

We arrived in the morning at 7am, we can’t go to the couchsurfer house as she has left to work, so we left our luggage at the terminal and went for a tour to the central of Lima. After finding a map of the town we headed to the central, it is still dirty even in the capital city, we can smell urine along the walk way, it is quiet disgusting. We were surprised by the buildings here which look similar to European. We visited the big park near to the terminal first to find ourselves a map then we went to explore the town, first the Blue church, then Plaza San Martin where there are lots of book stalls, walked along the shopping street to arrive to Cathedral de Lima and The Palace, finally at around 3pm we decided to go to the couchsurfer house. We were both tired from 2 days and nights of travelling and no shower.

Marianna whom Francois couchsurfed in Canada has moved to Lima, here she agreed to host both of us for the weekend. On the weekend, she invited us to join her for a manifestation where they protest about the fact that women in Lima often get verbal abuse by men on the street and treated like they are prostitute. They demand for more respect or to be left alone. We walked for about 20 blocks with the group, they shout, cheer, play music and distribute notice to people on the street. It was a peaceful manifestation. It was a new experience for me.
Marianna brought us to a popular place for lunch, it serves pescado cerviche, basically fresh fish marinated with lime and sea food dishes. I had fried seafood with fried rice, ummm it tasted great! After lunch we went walking along Barranco area and the sea side, it looks like Miami to me, beach front condos with sea view, nice parks and walk way for runners, cyclers and blading, pretty much an upscale area for the rich. The weather here can be extremely cold even tho it is at sea level, the wind from the Pacific Ocean always brings cold breeze to Lima and the city never had much rain.

On Monday, I went to the Bolivia embassy to check if I can get my visa process before leaveing to Huaraz, I called them on Friday, the guy told me to come and just bring my passport. Sounds a bit too easy, obviously! When I arrived a lady told me I need to provide them with my itinerary to Bolivia, proof of transport to and out of Bolivia, latest bank account statement, hotel reservation, photo and passport! Sucks! I can’t provide them anything but my passport so nothing was done. I asked them if I could do it at the border town of Bolivia at Puno and if I could get it in a day. She said yes. So I leave the Visa thing for the end of the Peru trip.
We spent a great weekend at Lima, Marianna was a great host and a friend. We left to Huaraz at 9pm on a 8 hours Executive bus, the bus was really comfortable with 3 large seats per row.  I was hoping to have some good sleep in the bus the chill kept me awake. :-(

Lima - Couchsurfing

Taxi from IItsa Terminal to Couchsurfer house – S10
Metropolitan bus ride – S1.5
Bus from Lima to Huaraz – S45 (Executive)


Cuenca, Ecuador 8-9 Nov 2011 and Piura, Peru 10 Nov 2011

My flight from Galapagos arrived in Guayaquil, from here I will take a bus to Cuenca where I was supposed to meet Francois. We planned to travel together to Peru and Bolivia because we both have the similar plan, timing and budget. When I was at the bus terminal of Guayaquil, I bumped into him, it was such a coincident. We then took the bus together to Cuenca, arrived at 8pm, found a hostel and just had a quick dinner nearby. It was back to COLD weather again.

The next morning, we visited some of the tons of Iglesia in town. We changed some Peruvian money as well because we read that at the Peruvian border there are lot’s of counterfeit. The exchange for US$ to Soles is US$1 = S2.69. After lunch, it started to rain heavily. It was cold and wet! :-( We were supposed to go to a Couchsurfing place 1 hour away from Cuenca but when we called her, she was not prepared to receive us and gave us a lot of excuses. After some discussion, we decided to move on to Peru. We took the direct bus that leaves to Piura in Peru. It was a 10 hours bus ride with a change of bus in Machala. We crossed the Ecuador and Peru border during midnight but there wasn’t any problem.

We arrived in Piura not that we wanted to do anything here but it is as far as the bus could bring us. From here we need to take another 15 hours bus to Lima. When we arrived in Piura, we met Luis, a singer from Argentina and Moses, his Manager from Lima. They were going to Lima as well. So we went to find our bus to Lima together but it was a bit complicated here in Peru because all the bus company is not located in one terminal, they have their own office and terminal. We had to walk a long way with our backpack to go to the area where it has more buses to Lima. We wanted to take the earliest bus to Lima but the next earliest bus to Lima is at 5:30pm. Shit! We have 12 hours to kill and there isn’t much to see in Piura. We spent the day roaming around the bus station, go internet cafĂ© and sat around the terminal. :-( 2 days of no shower and 2 nights in the bus really exhausted us. I just want to jump into a shower as soon as I arrive in Lima. Luckily the bus we took was very comfortable, they served us with snacks, dinner and breakfast. We had a good night sleep to Lima.

La Casa Cuencana - $7 for private double room with shared bathroom and WIFI available but in a different building.

Taxi from Guayaquil airport to terminal - $3.5
Bus from Guayaquil to Cuenca - $8
Taxi from Cuenca terminal to La Casa Cuencana - $2
Bus from Cuenca to Piura - $17.50
Bus from Piura to Lima – S85


Monday, November 28, 2011

Galapagos, Ecuador 30 Oct – 8 Nov 2011

On the 30 October 2011, I finally landed in Galapagos. My dream to come to this island has finally come true. :-) At the airport, I finally met a gal from Malaysia after 5 months of travelling,  she is just here to visit Galapagos. We had a quick chat before she went on with her 8D7N cruise. The airport is located in Baltra Island, this island has just the airport and the military base. I hoop on to the shutter bus and boat to cross the Itabaca channel to Santa Cruz Island, Puerto Ayora is where the central of the activities are located. On the way to Puerto Ayora the landscape is amazing, the island looks like a flatten volcano that pops up from the sea, the northern part is covered by trees that only have dried branches and trunks just like in winter. The southern part is more wet and green and has more farms and villages.

First day in Galapagos, excited to go diving, upon arrived I went hunting for dive packages. Most of the dive shops here are located in Puerto Ayora, all along the 1 KM Street of travel agency and souvenir shops. There were probably around 10 dives shops and out of all only 2 are big and organized. The 1st big dive shop that I visited is fully booked for the next few days, they have 1 slot left for the next day but it was going to Santa Fe Island. I have done enough study to know where I want to dive as I want to make full use of the money I spend here. So my target is to go north islands not south.  The 2nd big dive shop was not running a trip the next day. I was disappointed not able to find a space for diving. All the other small dive shops are either not having enough people to go diving or they don’t look professional to me. End of the day, I found one that is going to Gordon’s Rocks (a famous dive site at the north east) on the day after. I booked and paid as I didn’t want to miss this chance. I was told to come back the next day to try out my equipments. They told me the trip leaves at 5am in the morning. They said that they are licensed to dive. OK, it sounded a bit suspicious to me but I kept my finger cross. In Galapagos, I learnt that only authorized Dive Boats are allow to dives and only selected sites are allowed, this is a way to control and reduce damages to the environment and reef. So no diving on the 2nd day, I booked myself a day trip to Floreana Island.
Floreana Island is 2 hours by speedboat south of Santa Cruz. It is one of the 4 Islands that are inhabited in Galapagos. The island has long been a favorite site for whalers, pirates and early settlers. We arrived to Puerto Valeaco Ibarra, only 200 people lives here, it’s the smallest town in Galapagos. From here we took an open-air ranch truck/bus up to the highlands of the island where we visited the tortoise corral. We arrived during the feeding time, they were given yam leafs for their meal, they are fed 3 times a week. We watched them moving slowly to the feeding ground and all of them seem to know that it’s time to eat. They look so hungry! 

After we got enough of photos and videos we hike up to the hill to see vistas of the island and the ocean beyond. There were some caves which were built by pirates for shelter and we visited the spring which is the only source of water to the island. We got back down to the small village for our lunch and head to the black beach. Here I saw my first wild sea lion. He was resting on the rock getting a suntan. We moved closer to take photos of him, he was not bothered by us. :-) On the beach, there were lots of red crabs and a few marine iguanas. Then we found a few more sea lions lying around. When we left the island, the park ranger checked all our bags to make sure we do not take anything with us. The boat captain drives us to a snorkeling side, when I jump in the water it was ice cold! I couldn’t stand a minute in the water. We saw some sea lions and penguins in the water and on the rocks. Finally another 2 hours ride back to Santa Cruz.

In the evening, I pass by the dive shop to try out my rental equipment, looks like the trip is on, :-) they have 4 other divers and all of them are quiet new less than 20 dives.  I took a 5mm long suit and a 2mm shortie. It doesn’t fit me well, they are either too big or too small. This one is the only option I have, a bit too tight to breath, hopefully after getting in the water is better. So the plan is to leave 5am in the morning, so that we can be back by noon before the sea gets rough. It sounds fishy to me! I think they are diving illegally with an unlicensed boat and trying to escape the marine park ranger who will often check the dive boats in the area so they choose to go early before everyone gets up. I just hope that nothing bad will happen, it is risky but this is the only option I have to dive in Gordon’s Rocks. Cross my fingers! :-)

We met at the jetty 5am in the morning, the sea was a bit choppy. By the time we reach the dive side, the sun is up but the water is still COLD! The DM explain us the dive plan, we are all going to do a back roll together into the water with maximum depth of 26m bottom time of 50 minutes. After putting up the 7mm suit and hood, I felt like a robot, rigid in movement and felt suffocated. We hurry to get in the water and the DM signal down! We all got under except one who has problem with equalizing. We hang around under water for 10 minutes before she could come down. The visibility was around 10m and we had big surge. We were surrounded by loads of fishes. Slightly after 30 minutes, one of them signal low on air, the DM looks a bit frustrated and signal all of them to ascent together while I stay with him to continue the dive. We saw a few large turtles and a sea lion hunting for fish. They moved fast! I managed to get a few shots luckily. :-) After 45 minutes we ascent, at the surface of the water, the DM puts on his SMB after looking around and no sigh of the boat, then we saw the other group which are still floating on the surface after 10 minutes. Finally the boat appeared from the back of the big rocks…phew! The sea was choppy with big surge, I was not feeling well with the tight wetsuit. Back on the boat, we were given a sandwich and juice. I was not feeling very well so I didn’t take the sandwich just the juice.
After an hour of surface interval, we suit up again for a second dive. Hopefully this time we will be luckier with the hammerhead. We dive the same site again, this time we will cross from one roc to another to look for the hammer. The gal who can’t equalize was asked to follow us closely from the surface while she takes her time to equalize. We did better this dive, everyone was able to stay together for the entire dive. We were welcome by 5 spotter eagle rays and some huge turtles. A few sea lions zoom pass us and a few white tip sharks as well came check us out. While at the end of the dive at around 10 meters, the hammerhead appeared from nowhere, we first saw one which swam away fast but then another one appeared closer and then 2 more just pass 1 meter away from me. Wow! They were huge!  I was struggling to take clear photos of the hammer with the 10m vis and of course with the surrounding fishes around us. :-) I was happy, the dive was intense with loads of action and the encounter of 4 hammerhead sharks! Back on the boat, everyone was happy and smiling but I threw out twice due to the tight wetsuit and big surge. After that I felt better. :-) We had a good day and no other boat is on sight and we made it back to Santa Cruz by noon. The DM made us all a CD of photos taken on the trip. I was very satisfy with the 2 dives, on the plus side I saw everything that I wanted to see and on the minus side I wasn’t comfortable with the cold water condition and 7mm tight wetsuit so I decided that it was enough for the trip, I will spend the rest of my time and money on some land trip instead.

On the fourth day, I booked a 2D2N trip to Isabela Island. Isabela is the biggest island in Galapagos, it is formed by 5 volcanos and the volcano formation makes the island looks like a seahorse. The trip leaves at 2pm so I have time to visit Lonesome George at Charles Darwin Research Center. I was lucky that George was having his meal at the time I visit, he looks different from the rest of the tortoise I have seen. He has a tall front shell and a long neck. He has 2 females in his enclosure unfortunately till today he can’t reproduce yet. He is the one and only species left in this world from Pinta Island of Galapagos. Even if he can reproduce with the 2 females it will be a hybrid because the 2 females are not exactly the same species as him. I wish him good luck!

So I took the 2 hour speedboat to Isabela Island, we were picked up by the guide from the hotel, yes the package includes the boat transfer, 2 nights stay in a nice hotel with private room, double bed, hot shower, aircon, TV, internet, all meals, tour to Sierra Negra volcano, snorkeling and visit Tintoreras Island . It’s been some time I didn’t get this comfort! :-) After dropping our bags, we went to the Flamingo lake, we saw about 17 flamingos, they are residence in this island but only about 200 left.

On the fifth day, we climbed to the crater of Sierra Negra Volcano. We took a pick up to around 800m and hike to the crater ring at 1100m to see the 2nd biggest caldera in the world. It was impressive! In the afternoon, we went snorkeling in the bay of Puerto Villamil and for 30 minutes 2 sea lions was playing with us, it was so much fun. Then we went for a short walk on Tintoreras Island, here it is a breeding ground for marine iguanas, we saw thousands of marine iguanas from all sizes lying on the rocks and sand. They spit salt water from their body all the time, so when we get close for a picture we have to be careful. :-) That ends the wonderful day at Isabela Island.

On the sixth day, I took the earliest boat at 6am back to Santa Cruz because I wanted to find a cruise that leave on the same day up to the northern islands of Galapagos. I went back to the same agency that I used and got myself a 4D3N cruise on a 16m sailboat. :-) I was happy and look forward to see all the birds up north. The 4D3N cruise include a visit to the El Chato farm in Santa Cruz where we can see tortoise roaming in the wild, all meals, tour guide, visit to 4 islands and snorkeling. I met 3 gals and an Ecuadorian couple on board. The crew members are a chef, 2 captains and a tour guide.

We left sailing at 1am in the morning, we sailed for 5 hours to arrive at Rabida Island. Our first island visit! We first got into the dingy for a visit around the island, we were given detailed explanation of the island, environment, birds and wild life. We saw blue footed boobies, frigate birds, fur seals with babies and marine iguanas lying on rocks. Then we landed on the red beach of Rabida Island covered with red sand. There were so many sea lions laying on the beach, some babies as well. We trekked up the hill and have a swim on the other side of the bay. The water was not as cold as the south island. During snorkeling we saw a few white tip reef sharks, sea lions and a huge Galapagos shark. We were lucky!

Next stop is to sail to Chinese Hat Island for some snorkeling. We had a beautiful sunny day. We snorkel near to the bay of Chinese Hat Island, this time we saw penguins swimming too close to us that we could touch them, we also saw a spotted eagle ray, some white tip reef sharks, turtles, stingray and a sea lion who wants to play with us. He picked up a stick and then brushes his face on my hand while I took a video of him. Ohhh.. that was the best moment! :-) I was so contented! I wish I could stay longer but the guide said we have to go… the boat continues to sail to Bartolome Island and we arrived during a beautiful sunset. Here we spent the 2nd night. The meal cooked by the chef was top class, I could easily put on a few pounds if I stay for a longer trip. :-) This night we had a good sleep without the sound of the boat engine.

On the eighth day, we woke up with a beautiful view of Bartolome Island and Santiago Island. Today we walked on the lava formation of Santiago Island. The lava flowed from the source which was 30km away, 1/3 of the island was formed by the lava. We could see many different patterns of lava formations, only 2 type of plants can grow on the lava crack, the lava cactus and another type of grass.
We did our last snorkel here around Bartolome Island, then after lunch we hike up to the view point of Bartolome Island. The view was breath taking, we had a clear day we could even see the Pinta Island up north where Geroge was borned. Tha boat continue to sail to North Seymour Island, our last stop for the cruise. We arrived just after sunset and spent our last night here.

On the ninth day, we woke up early at 5:30am to have a early start to North Seymour Island to view some of the sea birds. Here on this island we could see Frigate birds mating, the male will inflate their red pouch and make a clicking sound to attract the female where the male Blue Footed Booby will mate by making a dance around the nest, from 3 babies only one will survived.
We also saw the yellow land iguana here, one of the 3 species found in Galapagos. That's the end of my 4D3N cruise, we were dropped off at the Baltra Island jetty. I had a fantastic time and contented to be able to see all these unique wildlife. I can’t believe I am actually here and being able to witness all these amazing moment and not just the same watching on National Geographic. :-) My flight departs next day, so I spent one more night in Puerto Ayora just lazing in the hotel and have a walk in the town.

Galapagos – Hotel Lirio Del Mar - $15 for private room with attached bathroom and WIFI available
Galapagos – Unknown Hotel - $10 for private room with attached bathroom

Galapagos Tourist Card - $10
Baltra Island to Santa Cruz Island by boat - $0.80
Santa Cruz Pier to Puerto Ayora by bus- $1.80
Isabela Island Port fee - $5
Puerto Ayora to bus terminal by taxi - $1
Bus terminal to Santa Cruz Pier - $1.80


Galapagos - 2 dives including all equipments and lunch - $160
Galapagos –Day Trip to Floreana Island - $65
Galapagos -2D2N Trip to Isabela Island - $150
Galapagos – 4D3N Trip to North Islands on Merak Sail Boat - $500

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quito, Ecuador 25-30 Oct 2011

Quito is the capital city of Ecuador and the 2nd highest in South America after La Paz. We read about how dangerous this country is before we arrived so we were very careful every time we walked on the street. We arrived at the North Bus Terminal which was about 45 minutes from town. We picked a hostel which we found out later that it is in between Old Town and New Town, it wasn’t so nice after dark, too quiet and doggy. The hostel owner told us not to walk on the street after 7pm, it is safe at the New town area but not anywhere else, if we go out we should take a taxi to come back. We took the advice seriously. The hostel do not have any dormitory instead I got a single private room for $7.5 per night.

The next day, Jannie and Joann have to find a camera repair shop as their camera failed after the horse riding at San Agustin. So we went to the new town and found a camera shop that was able to check the camera with $25 service charge. I can imagined travelling without a camera is hard. Our memory just can't remember all those beautiful places. I would be so upset if my camera broke down. After droping the camera we visited the Artisan market as well, there were lots of handicraft, bags, t-shirts, drawing, stones accessories, etc. We saw this guy making ice cream in the stall, we can't resist even thought eating ice cream can easily make us sick because of the water they use.

While we were on a street full of travel agencies, I enquired about Galapagos cruise, damn they are so expensive! The lady told me 10D9N dive cruise will cost about $4k, ouch! Then I found one which is last minute price at $700 for 5D4N on a nice sail boat but no diving. With the reference of price and info that I have gotten, now I really need to sit down and plan my trip. Back to the hostel after some research in the afternoon, I came up with this estimation, here is what I need to pay :-
1. Flight Quito-Guayaquil-Galapagos-Guayaquil - $350
2. Galapagos National Park Fee - $100
3. Tourist card - $10
4. Hotel accomodation - $15 per night x 10 = $150
5. Diving (2 day dives incl equipments) - $170 x 3 = $510
6. Food (3 meals) - $15 x 10 = $150
7. Return Boat transfer to other island - $50
8. Land activities - $100
9. Land Transfer to/from airport - $6 
Total up to $1426

It’s going to cost me 1 month of my normal travel expenses. :-( I knew it is expensive! But this is why I come here for, it is going to cost me but it will be my dream comes true! :-) So I’ve decided to just fly in and book my package at the island.

On the 2nd day at Quito, we visited the Old town. Francois whom I met in Bogota arrived in town as well so we met up and spent the day visiting Old town together. The first stop was the Iglesia Basilica, it was an impressive piece of architecture! I always love glass windows in the Iglesia. There are always colorful and full of stories behind. I took photos of every single windows in the church. We were able to access to the 2 tower of the Iglesia.
The climb up was pretty shaky, we took a lift up to the 3rd floor on the north end of the church then we walked across the roof top of the Iglesia on few pieces of plank wood to reach the south tower, Francois gave up there as he has fear for height. :-( I climbed up to the top thru some steep steel steps, it was scary. Yet the view on top was amazing. Then I climb up the north tower as well, a different kind of view from this tower.

We stroll around the old town, the town was very pretty and we didn’t feel it was dangerous during day time. There were many people on the street and the weather was great. We were told not to walk up to the Panecillo, many people got robe on the way so we took a cab. From the Panecillo we had an excellent view of Quito. We then took a cab back to the Old town, in my opinion I think Quito is the most beautiful capital city I have visited so far. In the afternoon we moved to another hostel, we decided to move to a hostel that is in the New Town so we could go out easily in the evening. It was just stone throw away from the center of New Town and we bargained for a good price.
Middle of the worldOn the 3rd day, we have decided to visit the Mitad Del Mundo (middle of the world) We took the metro about 30 minutes to reach the end of the station, then another bus about 45 minutes away to reach the middle of the world. It was cloudy on that day, we took some photos of the monument that was built by French to mark the equator line. Unfortunately the place was built 200m north of the actual equator line. :-) Jannie and Joann tried their luck on the egg experiment, the egg is supposed to be able to stand on a nail on the ecuador line and yes they did it! :-) 
Back to town, I bought my flight ticket to Galapagos! :-) I was happy that I am one step closer to my dream. I will be there for 10 days, spending the most out of it with my budget of around $1.5k.
Jannie and Joann left the next day to Mindo, I was invited by Francois’s host Maria Jose to join them to her mom’s house to make bread. It was for the celebration of the Day of Death. The tradition is to make this bread that is called “guagua de pan” and  drink a sweet blackberry juice cook with pineapples, cinement and other spices when they visit the cemetery. We did all these at  Maria Jose's parent house. I was so lucky to be able to experience this with a Ecuadorian family. At night Maria Jose brought us to visit La Ronda. La Ronda is in the Old town where a street of old shop houses was converted to souvenirs, restaurant and bars lid up with beautiful lights. It was great to be able to see Quito Old Town at night before I leave to Galapagos.


Quito – Marsella Hostel– $7.50 for private room with shared bath and WIFI available
Quito – Hostel Del Piamonte - $9 for dorm bed with shared bath hot water,breakfast and WIFI available


Taxi from Quito North Bus Terminal to Hostel in Old Town- $7 per taxi
Taxi in town cost from $2 - $4

Bus to Mitad del Mundo - $0.40 per way
AeroGal flight Quito-Galapagos-Guayaquil - $350.87

Taxi from Hostel to Quito Airport - $5

Quito - Entrance to Iglesia Basilica - $1

Quito - Entrance to climb up to the tower of Iglesia Basilica - $2
Quito - Entrance to Mitad del Mundo - $2