Monthly Archives: February 2015

Ecuador Part 4: Getting Lost on the Avenue of Volcanoes

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Kinda hard to miss

Kinda hard to miss

How do you get lost when a volcano is your navigating landmark?  Apparently, it is not as difficult as one would think.

We are big believers in seeing a country by driving a car on your own (or taking a train).  There are so many things missed when flying over, or being escorted by a tour.  We also bow down at the alter of the GPS (Costa Rica: No Signs Allowed).  However, due to my limited Spanish (yes, the GPS was all in Espanol!), the sparce map programming for Ecuador, or just (I fear) my mental capacities – the GPS rented from the car rental company in Cuenca, Ecuador was not as much help to us as expected.

Truth be told, we saw much more of the country than originally planned (much, much more)on our drive along Avenue of the Volcanoes from Cuenca to Banos to Quito.  Lucky for us, there were only a few roads that take you through those mountains (and we found them all), or we would probably still be searching for a way out…

We did manage to locate the Ingaperca Inca Ruins between Cuenca and Banos:

Ingaperca Inca Ruins

And see some colorful things along the way:

No billboards needed when there is the side of a house to paint.

Who needs billboards when there is the side of a house to paint.

We kept driving when it was raining:

I think we do this way...

I think we go this way…

And took random breaks when it wasn’t.

Anyone for a game of hoops?

Anyone for a game of hoops?

Sometimes we drove by the view,

No shortage of cows in Ecuador.

No shortage of cows in Ecuador.

And sometimes, we got out of the car to take in the view:

We will get there someday.

I think it is too far to jump.

And sometimes, we just followed the truck in front of us:

Goin' my way?

Goin’ my way?

Driving though the rural and mountainous parts of Ecuador, we came away with two impressions: Ecuador is a vastly beautiful country, and those volcanoes may be big, but they do not a navigational tool make.

In the end, we made it to all of our planned destinations…and a few unplanned ones as well.

All in a days travel…

The best days that is.

For other articles on Ecuador:

Ecuador Part 1: Forrest Gump Goes to Quito

Ecuador Part 2:  Getting Mobbed and Spit On in Cuenca

Ecuador Part 3:  Throwing My Kids Off a Bridge in Banos

For More Sweet Spot Travels: GO HERE

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Ecuador Part 3: Throwing My Kids Off a Bridge in Banos

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Banos, EcuadorIt is pretty much impossible to go to Ecuador and not jump or repel off of something (or so I was told). We chose to head to the town of Banos – right at the edge of the Amazon Basin – to seek out our eco adventures.  And here is where I found myself thinking, I am either the coolest parent in the world…or the most negligent – maybe, they go hand in hand.  But I digress.

First, Banos.  A cute little town nestled in a pocket of the Volcano Avenue.

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador,

For the obvious reasons, it is popular with the back packer set as there is no shortage of adventures and beautiful vistas to be found.  The town itself has the same colorful attributes found in other parts of Ecuador:

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, EcuadorIf not a little rustic (in a good way!)

Banos, EcuadorBut, what we really came for was the adventures and we were not disappointed.

Unlike our usual, we (and when I say “we”, I mean my husband) did not do much research as to which company to use.  Something we learned during our time in Ecuador is that Ecuadorians are candidly straight forward.  Generally, what you see is what you get, no hidden agenda or secret costs or over exaggerated offers.  So, we drove into town and went to the first company we came to for our initial adventure:

Banos, EcuadorNo way,  not biking! We are just not ambitious enough for biking up the mountain! (I just like the picture)

Our first excursion was Jeep on and off-roading.  It turned out to be a great way to see the mountains, canyon,waterfalls and almost get killed trying to drive a stick shift up hills and through tunnels (my non-licensed teens may or may not have taken turns driving…but you didn’t hear it from me).

No, I would never let my kid ride on top of the car...never.

No, I would never let my kid ride on top of the car…never.

Next up – Zip Lining across a 600 foot deep canyon.  Again, we just drove along the mountain edge until we came to a Canyon that looked beautiful and walked right into the Zip Line office to sign up.  And here I am going to give Canopy Agoyan a shout out because they were fun, safe and I kid you not, $15 per person to Zip line across the canyon and back.

The main attraction on this zip line was the exhilarating fly over a deep canyon and view of the waterfall pouring into the river at the canyon basin.  We were able to choose how we zipped across, and we chose to fly!

Zip lining in Banos, Ecuador

But all involved agreed, the bungee jumping was hands down the coup d’etat – or, you know, the most fun!  I myself did NOT jump (how stupid do you think I am).  No, I had my kids do it. I stood on the bridge across from the jumping bridge to video and dodge traffic – like this guy who came tearing across the bridge (well, not quite tearing, but I did have to get out of the way…)

Banos, EcuadorIt was at this moment, as I was taking video (by request) that the thought from the beginning of this article occurred to me – either I am either the coolest parent in the world for letting my kids dive head first off a bridge over a rocky river…or the most irresponsible ever (jury is still deliberating).

But, I did not have much time to contemplate because I had to attend to the task at hand…video taping and making permanent record of my parental negligence.

After the first jump facing forward, both Teen1 and Teen2 agreed it was “so fun” they needed to jump again… this time backwards.  Lucky for them, the second jump came at a discounted rate and I am never one to pass up a deal.

It wasn’t until after the event Teen1 and Teen2 pointed out to me on the video(see below) how the handler flipped their feet up and out as they jumped to insure they would clear the bridge (and that they did not try to change their minds)…

Photos just did not do justice – so here goes – a sampling as it were.  One jump forward (Teen1) and one jump backward (Teen2). And yes, that is me screaming in the background:

You game? Or rather, do you have any kids you want to throw off a bridge?

Last post – Lost somewhere in Ecuador.

For other posts on Ecuadorian:

Ecuador Part 1: Forrest Gump Goes to Quito

Ecuador Part 2:  Getting Mobbed and Spit On in Cuenca

For More Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here