World Journey Part 4
Peru. Ecuador. Galapagos Islands. Colombia.We didn't stay long in Cajamarca, and Joel and James continued their trip down to Lima where I began mine back up north towards Ecuador. I crossed the border at San Ignacio and made my way to Vilcabamba, a small village in the mountain region of Loja.
Unless you are a hippie-like person that prefer doing nothing or need a quiet place for yourself for a while, then you will quickly get bored here, but it is perfect for writers and thinkers that need that kind of atmosphere from time to time. I spent 2 weeks here catering my thought into written words.
Some weeks later I was ready to leave and took a direct bus from Loja to Quito, the Capital of Ecuador. It took me some time to get used to the elevation as this city is 2800 meters above sea level, making it the second highest capital in The Americas, with La Paz, Bolivia being the highest.
Along with other cities, Quito is situated in an Andean valley with chains of Volcanoes on each side. The closes one is Pichincha on the western side of the city. It has several peaks, one of them being Rucu Pichincha, and the other Guagua Pichincha, both close to 5000 meters high. Guagua Pichincha is still active and the biggest eruption was back in 1660, where it covered the city with 25 cm of ash.
The latest one was in 2006, with only minor puffs, but still enough ash over the city to close down the airport. In total seven volcanoes are surrounding Quito. One of the highest in the world and still active one is Cotopaxi, with its 5900 meters to the summit.
The city is on the equator which gives it a perfect climate with mostly sun throughout the year. Outside of the city, there is a monument and a big red line running through it. The line is to show where the Equator runs through the country with the geographical numbers 0-0-0 Mitad Del Mundo – The Middle of The World. But because of the lack of precise equipment back then, the measurements are incorrect, placing the correct point 240 meters north of the red marked line.
One of the great pleasures of Quito is the many parks placed throughout the city. It doesn't really matter in which part you are, there is also a park in the area, which is extremely nice, considering that this city has one of the worst traffic problems I have ever seen, making it very time consuming just go small distances. I stayed in the south of Quito, in what is known as the historic centre, at the hostel Revolution, owned by an Aussie, named Matt, along with his Ecuadorian wife Maria and the MENTAL dog Shaki (Shakira) in which case I´m still not sure about the gender of.
This hostel became my home for three months and my place of sanctity for when I needed it, a base to return to from trips around the region, the Galapagos Islands, and Colombia.
The first two weeks vent by exploring Quito with Atilla and John, two guys that had arrived the same day as me. A couple of days later I flew to the Galapagos on a last minute deal, which gave me 4 days on a first class yacht, cruising around the Galapagos and visiting specific Islands.
The Galapagos are situated 972 km out from the west coast of Ecuador and consist of 15 big Islands and 3 small ones. These volcanic Islands are no more than 5 to 10 million years old and some of the younger ones are still forming from volcanic activity. They were discovered by accident back in 1535 when a Spanish ship drifted off course and became a national park in 1959.
The Galapagos are not rich in animal species like the Amazon and other areas, but they have more unique ones like a giant tortoise, where no one really knows how old they can get because they have outlived everyone counting. Another animal is the blue footed bobby, a bird with large blue feet. The Marine Iguana, the only iguana feeding in the sea. Galapagos Penguin, the only living tropical penguin, and the Galapagos sea lion, related to the California sea lion, only smaller.
When I first got to the Galapagos these giant black lava rocks sticky out of the water in the strangest forms and sizes made me think I was on another planet. I had never seen anything like it before, and snorkelling between the cliffs was like exploring uncharted waters. I remain amazed that every single animal I met here was untouched by my present.
Seeing that they have never known any predators or natural treat against them it is more likely they just didn’t care about me being there. The Islands I visited was Rapida, Genovesa, Bartolome, and Darwin station on Santa Cruz.
I flew back to Quito four days later and decided along with Atilla from the U.S, Colm from Ireland, and Hans from Chile (Three other guys from THE LONG TERM HOSTEL GANG) to take a trip to Colombia.
We were only 5 hours from the border and a change of scenery was needed for us all.
This trip lasted ten days for me and was strictly boy’s night out in the towns of Pasto, Popayan, and Cali. We basically vent on the piss in every town we got to, which was good fun because we enjoyed each other company.
When the time came to head up to Medellin, another ten hours with the bus, I decided to discontinue and go back to Quito alone. I`d, had enough of drinking and I knew that once we hit Pablo Escobar’s home town it would be a nonstop party.
I returned to Quito and Hans and Atilla followed 5 days later. Colm stayed back in Medellin, and another week later Hans was on his way back to Santiago, Chile.
The gang was slowly disintegrating, with only me and Atilla remaining. I was ready to leave Quito after almost three months, but as Atilla was expecting a visit from his stepmother and younger brother I hesitated and instead I took a five day trip with them around the region. We vent up to the Mountain town of Chugchilan and did a 15 km hike/walk to bring back the highest made Mozzarella from the highest placed cheese factory. The day after we visited Lake Quilotoa, which closely resembles a volcano, but is, in fact, a caldera, formed by a volcanic eruption causing the ground to collapse underneath, making it look like a volcano filled with rainwater.
We carried on to Tena in the Amazon of Ecuador for a day out white water river rafting on the Rio Napo. I think the video will show you how much fun that was.
Five days later we were back in Quito again and this time Atilla was ready to leave with me. Our plan was Huaraz, a mountain region down south in Peru, to do some ice climbing and hiking around the mountains. It took us a week to get there, stopping at several other towns on the way. When we finally got there we had no energy, and we breathe heavily just walking around town. We both knew that it was going to take a couple of days getting used to 3100 meters of altitude so we started chewing coca leaves, which is the preferred method in mountain villages against altitude sickness or just for providing you with energy when high up. Atilla was getting better second day here, but in my case, it just got worse. The third day I remained in bed with no appetite what so ever, and with a high fever. The fourth day I was shaking badly and throwing up so that was when it was time to hit the hospital. I got there severely dehydrated and heavy breathing so they immediately started an IV to get water into me. I was in the hospital for four days, surrounded by people asking me the same questions, over and over. My blood pressure and my pulse seemed like a great mystery to them, is very low compared to my size. I told them again and again that the low blood pressure runs in the family and my low pulse is from exercising and running for the last 14 years. They tested me for malaria three times and by then it was beginning to look more like they were trying to milk as much out of my insurance as they could. I guess being the only one in that hospital they probably needed it and gave them something to do.
The fourth day I was doing fine and just really wanted to leave. Atilla had left the day before when I didn't need him anymore and I still remain grateful for him helping me, and being a friend. It would have turned out to be a real mess if it hadn't been for him. Thank you, Atilla!
As I was about to leave, they suddenly decided to rush me to Lima by ambulance, making some lame excuse about them not being able to solve the problem. I was fine so I just figured I go along with it and get free transportation to Lima, where I was going anyway. Seven hours later and twelve a night I was at the hospital in Lima, where they wanted more money out of me because they could not speak English with my insurance company. They wanted me to pay 700 dollars for treating me for 3 days. It turned out that I had salmonella poisoning, which I knew was treatable by simple medicine from the pharmacy.
By knowing this I told them that I did not have any money and left the hospital at 1.30 in the morning with a note in my hand of the name of the medicine.
Next day I met up with Atilla again in the beach area of Lima. Atilla was working at a hostel and basically preparing himself psychical for returning to the U.S. I used my time here getting back to health after losing several kilos. 6 month of touring around the Americas has satisfied my mind enough now. The countries I have had the pleasure of exploring is Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, and all though it is only three out of the thirteen countries that South America has to offer, I still remain fulfilled in a mostly positive manner. I did the main things that I wanted out of my trip here, people that became friends and all the rest is considered a great bonus. I never made it to the most famous city of all, Cuzco, even though I am only twenty hours away. I did not see myself walking The Inca Trail (The Gringo Trail) with five hundred other tourists. I am very content by having seen Kuelap, a lesser known ruin, by myself and having stayed with a family on the Mountain. To me, that is culture and more memorable than what Machu Picchu ever could have been. So, for now, I am closing the book on the Americas and opening my mind for a new continent and culture. Next stop... Mumbai – India!!