Images of Quito, day 1

The winged virgin, with the serpent firmly in hand, overlooks Quito, from the heights of El Panecillo. The elevation here is almost 10,000 feet.

The view is spectacular, and this photo doesn’t even come close to capturing this magnificent city. The old city is in the foreground, with the skyscrapers of the new city barely visible.

We visited San Feancisco church and convent. We weren’t able to photograph the interiors of any of the churches, but the courtyard was fair game, and was quite lovely.

Here’s a shot of a typical street in the historic center of Quito. Notice the interesting architecture, and how clean everything is!

Because I am sending these via email, there is a file size limit, so day 1 will continue in another installment.

And the answers are….

Okay, so I guess I got a little carried away with the questions.  Here they are again, with the answers.  I promise, the next ones will be easier.

Which of the following will I NOT be bringing?  (# 5 and #6)

  1. A seasickness patch left over from the Antarctica voyage – Yep, I’m bringing this.  The boat for the Galapagos part of the trip is very small, so we are taking no chances.
  2. Coca tea bags from the Peru trip, to help avoid altitude sickness  Yep, I do whatever I can to avoid any possibility for pain.  The change in altitude from Newark to Quito is about 2 miles.  eek.
  3. My long underwear (also from Antarctica).  Yep, Quito is in the mountains and it gets cold at night.  My silk underwear doesn’t take up much room,  I can wear it under lightweight clothes, which saves space in my luggage.
  4. My windbreaker from my bike trip.  Rain is predicted for every day that we are in Quito.  This windbreaker has a hood, so I won’t need an unbrella…and it is really lightweight.
  5. My flotation belt from my water aerobics class.  Nah–they will provide life jackets when needed.
  6. My teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini (from my adolescence).  There hasn’t been a bikini in my bureau for at least 30 years. But as you know, I do keep my clothes for a long, long time–just not my swimwear.
  7. Wine glasses and bottle armor for “trip wine”.  Oh yeah.  I have two plastic wine glasses, and a special bag for transporting wine so that it doesn’t break or leak all over the inside of the luggage.  Hey, you can’t expect wine stores in the Amazon, can you?  Who knows,  a bottle of vino from a duty-free shop could end up being one of the prizes!

Next question will be about the trip activities. Which ones do you think will be offered?

(All except #6 and 7)

  1. Blow gun contest.  Absolutely.  Hmmm.  I better pretend I’m Bill Clinton and make sure I don’t inhale.
  2. Snorkeling.  Yes Indeed.  Not during the Amazon part of the trip…in the Galapagos.  Swim with the penguins, or something like that. 
  3. Chicha (beer) making lesson.  Definitely a highlight
  4. Raft making.  Surprising, but yes.
  5. Floating on the raft that we made.  I’m a little concerned about this one.  This will definitely be a joint project with Mike!
  6. Piranha fishing.  Not intentionally–unless my leg (or some other part of my body) hangs off the home made raft, a piranha is swimming by, and decides to latch on. 
  7. Piranha cooking and eating.  I don’t think so, although Fanny’s recipe sure made it sound delicious. 
  8. A day trip to a spa.  Oh yes.  We are spending a day at the Papallacta Hot Springs, where they have thermal baths.  Full report will be forthcoming.
  9. Shopping for contest prizes.  Well, of course.  We will be going to Otavalo Market, where Fanny tells me they have beautiful handicrafts. 

So, here’s the score so far.  For this first attempt, I am awarding bonus points:

Fanny and Melissa got the first question half right, so they each get 10 points.  And they each got 7 out of 9 right, so that brings them up to 17.  BUT

Fanny gets 10 bonus points for being the first to answer, plus 5 for adding a  piranha recipe, for a total of 32 points.

Melissa gets 5 bonus points for making me laugh, 8 bonus points for being second to answer for a total of 30.

Sue (also known as anonymous) got the first question partially right for 10 points, and 4 out of 9  for the second one, plus 5 bonus points for trying, for a total of 19.

Lindy got the first question half right.  She was the only one that knew I wouldn’t bring a floatation device–and she was the only one that thought I still would wear a bikini!  So, 10 points for  first question, and she got 5 of the second question, for a total of 15.

Bonus points for trying, plus bonus points for knowing the words to the Peter Paul and Mary song brings Lindy up to a grand total of 25.

Not to worry–there is still time to rock this contest.  (But I think Sandy is trying for another paper thong).

On your mark, get set…

“All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go” –Peter, Paul and Mary

Contest Time!
We’ll start with a packing question. The trip will be thirteen days long, and we are limited to 44 pounds.  I’ll be bringing along some treasures from past trips. Which of the following will I NOT be bringing?

  1. A seasickness patch left over from the Antarctica voyage
  2. Coca tea bags from the Peru trip, to help avoid altitude sickness
  3. My long underwear (also from Antarctica)
  4. My windbreaker from my bike trip
  5. My flotation belt from my water aerobics class
  6. My teeny-weeny yellow polka dot bikini (from my adolescence)
  7. Wine glasses and bottle armor for “trip wine”

Hint:  I’m bringing 5 of the 7 items.

Next question will be about the trip activities. Which ones do you think will be offered?

  1. Blow gun contest
  2. Snorkeling
  3. Chicha (beer) making lesson
  4. Raft making
  5. Floating on the raft that we made
  6. Piranha fishing
  7. Piranha cooking and eating
  8. A day trip to a spa
  9. Shopping for contest prizes

Another hint.  We are doing 7 of the 9.  You get one point for every one that you correctly pick and lose one point for picking something we aren’t going to be doing.

So, let the contest begin!  Contest closes Monday afternoon, and the answers will be posted then.

Road Scholar – one of my favorite things

A recent Huffington Post by Doris Gallan described what us oldies but goodies look for in a travel experience:  “The chance to learn something new, have genuine experiences with locals, and get value for money”.  That’s exactly why we travel with Road Scholar.  Our upcoming trip to Ecuador will be our fourth trip with them.  And yes, this post is yet another attempt for me to hone my word press blogging skills, before I hit the road.

Our first trip, to Costa Rica in 2007, definitely gave us value for our money.  All Road Scholars trips include lectures about the country, supplemented with visits to points of interest that we might have missed had we been traveling on our own.  At Cafe Britt, we learned about the history of coffee, its cultivation, harvesting and roasting.  The gift shop shipped our purchases home for us, which was greatly appreciated.

At our visit to the Dole plantation, we learned that banana plants are actually herbs.  That was only one of a multitude of interesting facts.  Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the rest of them.   Hey, it’s been 5 years!

Costa Rica has no military force.  Instead, they spend their resources on education and on preserving the beauty of their country.  As they say in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida”.
INBio Park’s exhibit pinpointed the locations of Costa Rica’s abundant national parks.

Our trip also had an active component.  That’s me, front left seat,  with Mike right behind me (although it is hard to tell) white water rafting on the Sarapiqui River.

Our school visit qualified as a  “genuine experiences with the locals”.    The children were so cute. They performed for us, then practiced speaking English while they gave us a tour of the school.

We visited TWO of Costa Rica’s active volcanoes.  Poaz Volcano is just outside of San Jose.  That is not a reflection of the sky; it is actual steam rising up from the center of the crater.

Our hotel was close enough to  Volcan Arenal to allow us to see it erupting at night.  This obviously isn’t a great shot, but you get the idea.  Trust me, it was much more impressive in person!

Here’s the afternoon view, from our hotel.

One of the nice things about Road Scholars is you are not visiting sites with hoards of others.  Frequently we were all by ourselves, enjoying the view.

We hiked to the top of a neighboring peak, and were rewarded with a wonderful view of Lake Arenal.

This Capuchin monkey’s job was to distract us so that his confederates could get into our backpacks.  We were supposed to leave them unattended while we photographed him!

He was one of the main attractions at Manuel Antonio Park.  The other attraction was the beautiful beach, with the comfortably, warm water.

Costa Rica is justifiably renown for its diversity of plant and animal life.  Take a look at just a smidgen of what we saw during our trip.

2011, a long goodbye

I’m still getting the hang of posting from my “i” stuff. Posting from an iPhone is different from an iPad, and both are different from posting from a desktop. So, my 2011 goodbye got published before I was finished with my fond farewell.

Here are more Antarctica shots
Lunch time


Following the penguin trail to the top of the hill


Our ship looked like a toy when viewed from the top of the hill.  Maybe it was a little higher than it looked.  We slid all the way back to the bottom on our bottoms


My traveling companions, Greg


and Mike

Disembarking at dawn in Ushuaia, Argentina, the end of the earth.


Back home by way of Santiago, Chile


And Lima, Peru


Dinner at La Rosa Nautica, on the Pacific Ocean, before heading to the airport