Quilotoa and Cotopaxi

An early start at 6am and we set off for Cotopaxi the second largest active volcano in the world.

And then on to Quilotoa an amazing volcano with a lake in its centre.

There is not much I can say about either of these that the photos don’t say themselves.

Cotopaxi is huge and intimidating whilst stood at the base, but the higher we scaled the more energised and giddy we became. Dressed like creepy Arabs layered up with sarongs and headbands we must have looked a real sight!At 15953feet we shared a coca tea wishing we had the time and equipment to continue to the top! Because we certainly weren’t lacking in enthusiasm.

Quilotoa is one of the best views I have ever seen so calm was the water and silent were the hills, it’s crazy that this place wasn’t roaming with tourists but we were grateful for the lack of an audience after we boldly left the group behind and descended down in to the volcano, only to run out of time and have to scramble back up panting and seriously debating an air ambulance.

The bus drive back we jumped out at a roundabout and switched busses to one going onward to Baños. Following the always room for one more rule I sat on the floor by the drivers feet and talked taxes with the driver.

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Sunshine blogger awards

Guess who has been nominated for the sunshine blogger awards! Thankyou http://imageearthtravel.com/2019/01/20/8-free-sights-rome/ for the nomination!

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog so everyone can visit.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees by commenting on their blog post.
  • List the rules and display the Award logo on your blog post

1. For how long have you been blogging?

We are quite new to the blogging world and only started about a month ago.

2. What do you do if/when you suffer from Writer’s Block?

The problem is usually shutting me up so it doesn’t happen very often. Plus being away we are constantly surrounded by new and wonderful things so it’s often hard to stop myself writing too much.

3. What goals have you set for your blog in 2019?

We started the blog as a way for our friends and family’s to follow our travels as we are so useless at keeping in touch, it’s been amazing to see people’s response and we just hope people keep enjoying reading as much as we do writing it.

4. Where do you see your blog 2 years from now?

Hopefully funding future travels as travelling is by far the most expensive addiction either of us have.

5. What do you love most about writing?

Peoples feedback is amazing, I’ve always enjoyed writing and kept journals so it’s just amazing to get the affirmation that I’m not completely wasting my time.

6. Do you prefer to travel solo or with someone?

Before this trip we both would have probably said solo. But if you find the right travel buddy then definitely with someone. You bounce off each other and it’s always nice to have some backup with all the weird situations we manage to get ourselves in to.

7. Do you think Ghost blogging is unethical?

If I’m honest I have no idea what that even means.

8. How do you create and cultivate relationships for your blog?

Internet in the £4 a night hostels is pretty temperamental but we try to reply to any comments and love discovering new blogs.

9.Is your blog self-hosted or on the free WP platform and why did you go this way?

Umm self hosted I think. As I said before we are very new to this so have absolutely no idea what we are doing so any advice is welcome.

10. What social media platform gives you the most exposure for your blog?

We upload to instagram regularly and all our posts go automatically to Facebook. But I think most of our followers come from WordPress directly.

11. Any travel plans for 2019?

We tend to go where the wind takes us so no set in some plans other than to make it to Rio de Jeniro for Carnival. We are currently in Peru so we have about a month to get there. Wish us luck.

So our nominees and a few of our favourite travel blogs are:

1. The world is a book. https://shareandconnect.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/67661/

2. The #1 itinary http://the1itinerary.com/2018/12/26/why-travel-is-more-than-vacation/

3. Living in paradise https://retiredfromgypsylife.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/lens-artist-photo-challenge-travel/

4. Ramblings and musings http://wendysharesathought.com/2019/01/11/travel-time/

5. Voyages of mine https://voyagesofmine.com/2018/12/15/travel-vs-vacation-getting-off-the-beaten-path/

6. Auchatbleu https://auchatbleublog.wordpress.com/2018/11/24/new-york-travel-diary/

7. Ostendnomadography http://www.ostendnomadography.com/photographic-travel-memories/

8. Planet bell http://planetbell.me/2018/12/06/life-as-an-expat-in-bangkok-part-4-travel/

9. Words from anneli http://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/11/17/west-coast-travels/

10. Bend branches https://bendbranches.com/2019/01/05/national-park-travels-lapc/

11. A nerdy perspective http://anerdyperspective.com/2018/12/19/the-bamboo-forest/

And your questions are as follows;

  1. Favourite travel destination and why?
  2. Would you rather give up travelling or give up writing?
  3. Beach or mountains?
  4. What’s your biggest inspiration for your style of writing?
  5. If you could give one bit of advice to another blogger what would it be?
  6. What do you miss the most whilst your away from home?
  7. Which would you wipe out bed bugs or mosquitos? And why?
  8. If you had to live somewhere for the rest of your life where would it be?
  9. Hot or cold?
  10. What’s your sketchiest travel story?
  11. What’s the one saying you live by.

We look forward to seeing your answers. Good luck!

Quiet Quito

The journey to Ecuador was very eventful including a lost purse, a nights stay in a hotel you usually pay for by the hour, a recovered purse and a very long road they call trampoline of the dead. And rightly so as it’s so high up in the mountains their is absolutely no visibility and a huge mountain drop to one side. So narrow that when you meet oncoming traffic somebody’s reversing skills are seriously tested as they manoeuvre around blind corners dodging the fallen down trees and boulders.

A quick stop at Otavalo that we both agree was overpriced and the market not all it was hyped up to be. So after a quick walk around we got a local bus to Laguna San Pablo, we both agreed that although the lagoon was beautiful it would look better from above so instead of paying for a very bleak looking boat trip, we began scaling the closest mountain. Feeling pretty unfit as we finally reached the top panting and collapsing on the surrounding rocks.

We got back to town and jumped on a bus to Quito hoping to find some new friends, sick of the sound of each other’s voices after days of travelling. But instead ended up making an enemy in the owner of our hostel (bad) Vibes. The owner was the kind of person who moved and talked like he was constantly bored.

After our first night I work up eaten by bed bugs again! And when I politely took the owner to one side to let him know they had a problem he instantly accused me of lying despite the obvious evidence. Told me I probably had a skin condition and practically kicked us out threatening to blacklist us in the hostel world so no one would take us in. We left in a state of shock, walked around the corner and checked in to Colour house.

The owner was amazing and not only had all of our clothes washed, dried and back with us within hours , but also arranged our tours for us for the next day and all cheeper than Vibes.

That evening we went to the historical centre of town which is amazing! Beautiful building surround the local square filled with benches of content locals taking in their surroundings. We ate in Cafeteria Modelo a busy place where we tried some local classics. One of which being Locra a potato, cheese and avocado soup. It was lovely.

That night after sharing a giant beer us lightweights were drunk and stumbled home lost with the giggles.

Statues in San Agustin

So although the bus was still an hour late it almost felt early in comparison to the usual three hour late busses. We checked straight in to Casa De Nelly the prettiest hostel, where the owner was a cornucopia of information for our route to Ecuador, and the place instantly felt like home.

After a nice dinner in town, we set off on the walk uphill back to the hostel, only to have a pizza delivery guy who was conveniently driving there anyway offer us a lift. What luck! As I was drifting off that night I heard a kufufflae and muttering from Daisy’s direction. I looked over to see a very startled Daisy batting off a cricket that had landed on her face. The next morning, we left to get a bus to the local statues. But in luck again we ended up getting a lift on the back of a hostel workers bike whilst he set up some horses to meet us at the entrance. Where we galloped around the park with a tour guide explaining the history to us. All for the same price as the entry fee!

So another free ride to a local vegetarian restaurant Tomate and we enjoyed an amazing lunch, where we overfilled ourselves with unidentifiable great tasting veggies.

So now two very achey completely stuffed gringos walked back to the hostel where apparently our luck had ran out and we walked the whole way back arriving out of breath and sweaty. That evening we arranged a yoga class down the road where again we conveniently got a free ride. It was the kind of yoga my mums been trying to get me to go for years, all breathing and meditation. We had to avoid eye contact the whole time as a wave of the giggles threatened. This was especially difficult in the eye yoga! During one of the breathing exercises she asked if we had felt anything, I’m pretty sure a blocked nose was not the answer she was looking for (but the one I gave nonetheless). We left the yoga class confused at what had just happened and completely starved. We dined at Homosapians, another veggie place that served up some very quick tasty food.

Trying to get a taxi home in the downpour was a very serious task as we hovered in shop doorways trying desperately to flag down any vehicle in sight. The only one that stopped was an already full taxi. Despite this we loaded in with the complacent family, making 8 of us in there. We did manage to negotiate a discount based on the fact we didn’t even have one seat between us. We got back to the hostel soaked through and in a fit of giggles. And who do we see sat on the sofa… only our Aussie mate, I am now starting to believe he is a stalker. So a quick catch up and we all clamber in to bed trying to get some sleep but finding ourselves far too funny to stop firing comments across the room.

Places in Popayan

A boat and two busses later and we arrive in Popayan armed with some seriously toxic bed bug spray. We splashed out on a private room, locked ourselves in the bathroom with all our stuff and gassed ourselves out. Going a bit OTT with the bug spray looking and feeling like mad women when we finally tumble out with red eyes and serious headaches, hoping we had finally got on top of this infestation. Waking up with no new bites felt like winning an all out war! And although 100s of bites still remained scattered on my body I knew their days were numbered! We took our clothes to the laundrette changed rooms and strutted off to Silvia. A town so high in the mountains that Daisy shivered in her inappropriate attire. We bought some fruits for breakfast and scaled the nearest peak for our tradition of a viewpoint.

Everywhere In Colombia seems really easy to get too but is like a series of hunger games on the return journey. As everybody fights for a spot on the designated method of travel, on this occasion a bus. But feeling unbeatable after our victory with the bed bugs we decided against the scramble and strolled off in the general direction of Popayan. We successfully thumbed down a lift to the next town with a local and jumped on a conveniently waiting bus. Where we began attacking our bags of fruit, devouring tomorrow’s breakfast! Offering it to the locals and dropping it all over the place.

That night we ate at a place called Pita and as you’ve guessed it sold pittas.. with a variety of toppings. After a game of backgammon where me and Daisy realised we can’t play anything other than cards without bickering and Daisy wanting to quit because she’s loosing! So we left. I was definitely still hungry as I don’t believe hummus qualifies as a side so we shared some cake at the hostel whilst laughing at how pathetically competitive we are. (And for the record I won backgammon but maybe don’t tell Daisy I said that).

The next morning we grouped up with some people from the hostel and headed to the hot springs. Swerving the usual tour and catching a bus. The hot springs stank worse than my exes curry farts and at first I was hesitant to go in and cursed the children splashing in my general vicinity. But half an hour in and now immune to the smell we began rubbing smelly clay all over ourselves (doing as the locals do).

After a dirt cheep meal we went back to the hostel where we no joke tried a slice of every home made cake, rating them in order. My favourite being the chocolate, orange and zucchini followed closely by Daisy’s favourite Banana and cardamon and lastly the still amazing coffee and chocolate. Yum! That night we all went for Tapas at Restaurant Carmina. Where we drank wine, ate delicious food and drifted between intellectual debates and chatting shit. Until full and giddy we wondered home missing our turning for the second time since we’ve been here. The next morning we checked out only to later realise we had been undercharged. Alright for some!

Problems on the Pacific coast

After fuck all sleep, scratching till I bled it was time to head to Buenaventura a place we have chosen to go, despite everybody’s advice and looks of shock when we mention it. But being off the beaten track it should be a bit of unspoiled paradise right? Wrong! On the bus there you watched the built up westernised city (we had only just been complaining about) crumble away replaced with tin roofed shacks and jungle abyss. After the pristine beaches and busy city’s we had become used to, this felt like something out of an apocalyptic film. In my mind I kept hearing the saying taught to me by the locals only yesterday “el que no oye consejos no llege a viejo”. A saying I could now see we had completely ignored. Entering the city didn’t seem much better, the buildings were made out of bricks but most were either derelict, burnt out or half built. The people don’t seem as friendly and their isn’t a backpack or hostel in sight.

Our hotel was a puzzle to the taxi driver who had never heard of it, even when we finally pulled up outside there was no telling this building was in-fact a hotel. The reception was a locked cage with a very unhelpful lady watching tv, barely looking up to acknowledge us. Now in our room safe but seriously itchy, sketched out and hungry, but not one bit reassured by the reception cage! We realised we can’t stay in the room forever as our bellies would never allow it and head out in search for food. We managed to find a nice part of town with kids playing outside and actual restaurants! So we grabbed some cheep food and booked a boat out of there for the very next morning, having survived one night we didn’t want to push our luck.

The next morning I had scratched so much my bites had joined with their neighbouring bites and created giant bites all over my body! I was so tormented I wanted to cut out each bite individually. As we head of to Ladrilleros tired and delirious from all the antihistamines and sleeping tablets, plus now soaked to the bone as the weather had decided now was the perfect time to rain down a shit storm on my already pretty miserable self.

We really started to wonder what we were doing in a place where there were no tourists and the only accommodation was overpriced and unappealing. So we ditched our bags and had a walk around the area, where the only streets were muddy tracks slowly turning to rivers with every moment that passed. The beach was beautiful but my current circumstances made me unappreciative and I only managed one positive comment on the view so as not to be a spoilt fun sponge. I am on holiday after all! Looking for a distraction from the itching and a break from the rain we stopped for lunch, where we received bland vegetables that we doused in soy sauce to try and coax out some flavour. Completely despairing I decided to call my mum because no matter how old or independent I think I am, the mere sigh of a cold or creepy crawly and I just want my mum. So now feeling slightly better we debated our options.

1. Stay here in this strange land that despite the rain gushing from the sky didn’t have enough water to wash our clothes and rid them of the bugs potentiality living in them.

2. Accept the loss of the tenner we had spent on travel and head back to civilisation and hope for some better luck in Popayan.

Easy choice! So we left with a bitter taste in our mouths and soaking bags on our backs. Fingers crossed for Popayan.

Crazy Cali

So Cali is a big, busy city where the people seem less friendly and the constant heat leaves you feeling clammy from the minute you wake up! The first thing we did, after breakfast of course (our priorities always firmly on food) was head to the closest viewpoint. The city stretched for miles, ugly spewed-out buildings as far as the eye can see. Here we indulged in one of the local delicacies, something I can only describe as a Colombian slush puppy. Fruit flavoured ice and a mountain of fruit all rammed in a plastic cup that tasted even more amazing than it looked!

After walking around for hours we decided to cool off at the hostel, whilst intermittently muttering occasionally about the heat. Then we headed off in search of a local market offering some beautiful local seafood dishes. Now I usually pride myself on being a bit of a bottomless pit when it comes to food but this time I really over did it and had to undo my skirt and lean back in my chair sighing occasionally. I only moved at the mention of coffees, where we hobbled the 20 steps away and ordered caramel frappes!

It was here we made out first real Colombian friends where we laughed for hours discussing different sayings and slang words from the area. “El que no oye consejos no llege a viejo” (if you don’t listen to advice you won’t live a long life) which I think might have been a hint for us to listen to advice. My personal favourite and one I believe we have been living by even before we knew it is “donde fueres has lo que vieres” basically meaning “do as the locals do”.

With that being said we went for a beer with our Aussie friend that we have bumped in to literally everywhere since we met in Taganga!

And we attempted to dance salsa with the locals to the great amusement of those watching as we shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other, red faced and sweaty but persistent in learning what looked like simple steps. After sweating out our body weight and noticing that the time had flown by we fled the ball like Cinderella, wanting an early night ready for Buenaventura tomorrow.