Ecuador

A month ago, we went to Ecuador for a little bit. 

mindo

within 12 hours of landing in Quito, we are drenched with rain and lost in the jungle. within 48, we have soared 300 feet above tree tops in the questionably secure basket of the tarabita (cable car), hiked to 5 waterfalls, counted 7 varieties of humming bird, napped in hammocks, and soaked in the jacuzzi. also, a slightly risky meal at a back-alley shack featuring grilled chicken (disregard the unrefrigerated tupperware from whence it came), superbly fried yucca, cold Pilsener beer, and the patronage of a squad of local firemen.

quito

colonial architecture. swaths of concrete housing creeping up blue hillsides. diesel fumes and honking horns. clouds that crest the mountains and pour suddenly into the valley like an invading army. crowds of tourists and locals alike taking refuge in the gilded nave of el San Francisco. and of course, more Pilsener.

quilotoa loop

Isinlivi to Chugchilan to Quilotoa. an emerald patchwork quilt draped over steep mountains and deep ravines, cliffsides inexplicably covered in agricultural pursuits. the small but regal stature of iconic indigenous peasants- dressed in felt hats, brightly woven textiles, and pleated skirts, with taught dark skin, rosy cheeks, and smiles of gold teeth. literally breathtaking - 12,000 feet of altitude breathtaking, stop every four steps on the assent breathtaking, how many photos can i take before my battery dies? breathtaking. 

cuenca

walking and gawking and roof-top-tour-busing* through more colonial history. the best empanadas of the trip. the worst hostel coffee and breakfast.  the search for a panama hat (or should I say, sombrero de paja toquilla, hecho a mano en Ecuador) fulfilled and one-upped with a workshop tour at the Asociacion de Toquilleras in Sigsig. 

*the roof-top tourist bus is quite possibly the least appreciated and most undervalued way to see a city. even if the English translation portion of the tour leaves out half of the interesting information, there's no better place to eat an impromptu ice cream cone