Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ecuador ~ The real South America, on Octane. Buckle up.



You say you want to see the real South America? Villages lost in time, women in bowler hats, wild horses, livestock markets, mountains, snowy volcanoes, waterfalls, colonial architecture, oceans, amazon jungle, thermal springs ...

And you want to straddle the Equator with a foot in either hemisphere?

And you want to experience the spectacle that  inspired Darwin's Origin of Species?

Better flick your fingertips over that keyboard and grab the next flight out ...





Ecuador's got it !




From a cute-as-a-button lass leaving you utterly defenseless in her bid to sell you her shawls, to wild horses roaming in the chill of desolate active volcanoes, Ecuador will weave its web of magic on you quicker than you can say 'América del Sur'.



Ah, can you feel Ecuador in your breath? Ethereal, open, natural, timeless.









Ok, let's slow it down. Let's start out languorously in the capital.

Quito



At 2,800 metres (9,200 ft), Quito is the second-highest capital city in the world .. after La Paz, Bolivia.



Tourists and locals alike, take in the atmospherics of it all.




Founded in 1534 on the site of an ancient Inca city, Quito is today home to nearly two million people.



The first city to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Krakow, Poland, in 1978, there are many Quito sights to take in... from a monument to the Virgin Mary atop El Panecillo to the famous Basilica, in and around the classic Old Town.




Feel a bit more relaxed now? Let's whip out of town for the great outdoors...after respectfully acknowledging the proud guardians at the gateway to this fine city.






Countryside

The countryside around Quito has it all... little pueblos, open country, horses, llamas, active volcanoes.




















Saquisilí Market

Care to wake up in the frigid cool of an early country morning, and watch animals being bought and sold?





Knowing well the fate of such creatures here or elsewhere on this planet, I couldn't help but feel pain at such close quarters to these unfortunate beings.


The market is alive with color, and is a unique look at Ecuadorian agrarian life.








Otavalo Mercado
South America's most famous indigenous crafts market

Otavalo! Tourists camp out for several nights to see the world famous Saturday morning market here.





Otavaleña women are distinctive in their white embroidered blouses, with flared lace sleeves, and dark long skirts. Thick black hair is tied back with a band of woven material, in color coordination with waist bands. Gold strings of beads adorn their necks.





























Let's meet at the ... Equator!

Yes! You can stand on the Equator in Ecuador.



Uh, oh. Wrong one.

The original equatorial line, on the left, was overridden with later GPS technology, and the new and final Equator was positioned about 80 yards away, with a nice tower to boot.




































Ever imagined this is what the Equator looked like?







Ecuador!
Bienvenidos a este hermoso país.

Ecuador is a hidden gem. Most people pass on it for Peru or Argentina. They are missing out. Ecuador packs a powerful punch...from the beauty of its landscape to the authenticity of its populace.






 I would soon film beautiful birds and other wildlife, including Orangutans, in Borneo.







As for following in the footsteps of Darwin, a separate blog story on the Galapagos Islands is definitely in order.










~