Friday, September 7, 2012

Colombia and Ecuador

I've had a pretty sketchy internet connection these last few days, so today I finally got around to uploading some photos. Album here (again if you don't use g+, email me and I can send you the link).

Scene from our beautiful drive through Ecuador

First of all, we met our first set of other people doing this trip! S & E are from Germany. They shipped their car from Germany to Halifax and have been on the road 17 months! They had a much more legit setup than us, with a pop-up tent on their car (photo below). They thought we were absolutely crazy for doing this trip in 4 months, maybe we are, but it still feels like we've been away from home for a long time. They are essentially going until money runs out, which I think is a common theme (from blogs I've read) of people dong this trip. I cannot imagine living on top of a car for two years, but I guess we are missing out on a lot of stuff by going so quickly.

S & E's Car. What ours should look like if we were serious

We are currently in Catacocha, Ecuador (very close to the Peruvian boarder). We have been enjoying Ecuador, the scenery is beautiful and everything has been super cheap. We had originally wanted to go to the Galapagos, but after looking at timing and cost, it looked like it was too much to include in this trip. That being the case, we have been staying on the mountainous side of Ecuador, which has been cold (which was a  welcomed change after a long hot week in Cartagena, Colombia). We have spent the night sleeping in the crater of a(n inactive) volcano, a water park, and in the beautiful town of Banos, that has natural hot springs. I forgot to mention that gas is RIDICULOUSLY cheap in Ecuador, $1.50/gallon. Ecuador also uses USD, which makes everything easier. The roads for the most part have been super well maintained and tolls are very low. Food is also cheap and better (in my opinion) than Colombia. In Colombia, every meal seems to come with: a soup, at least 4 starches (rice, beans, plantains, yuca, pasta?, etc), a "salad" which is sometimes sweet and sometimes mayonnaise-y and a sugary beverage. The soup is usually the best thing. They seem to love sugary drinks. The plus side is that everyone makes fresh fruit juice, so you can get strange tropical juices almost anywhere for very cheap.

Pululahua Volcano, Ecuador

Once we got the car in Colombia, we were behind on schedule (of getting down to Buenos Aires by beginning of October to meet my parents), so we decided to start doing some long driving days. We had originally planned to spend a few days in Bogata, but we took the western route to Medellin first. It turns out Medellin and Bogata are about 9 hours apart by car, because they are on two separate mountain ranges. Also, having the car in large cities is almost always a pain. When we arrived in Medellin we had marked a bunch of hotels in one area we wanted to stay at, when we got to that neighborhood it was pretty sketchy (prostitution is legal in Colombia, so I think it makes sketchy areas seem even sketchier) so we ended up driving around for a few hours looking for a place to stay. We did not really want to repeat this in an even larger, more crowded city. We hope to go back sometime soon, though.

Alligator Cast, Medellin, Colombia

Otherwise, we really liked Medellin, it seems like a city you could actually live in. There is a subway line and a bunch of totally reasonable residential neighborhoods. We visited the modern art museum, the zoo, the botanical garden (this is a strong word, it was more like central park with some tropical plants, very pretty though), and the exploratiorium. It was nice to be away from the car seeing things. After leaving Medellin, we spent a few hours twisting and turning through the beautiful mountains of Colombia. Probably one of the worst parts of driving in Colombia is the expensive tolls, every 100km (or sometimes less), you pay a toll somewhere between 3 and 5 dollars. This adds up quick, as well as gas being ~5 dollars/gallon.

Cartagena, Colombia

Today we are heading to Peru, we are trying to catch A's friends who are going to be doing Machu Picchu on the 19th! We are also very excited to do some more hiking and camping in Peru.

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