Archive for the ‘2007-09, Ecuador’ Category

One Month done! Ten to go…

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Some general thoughts on the trip so far…

First and foremost, we are not having problems finding space in our rolling duffels to stuff extra stuff we have… BUT, we are having a very tough time keeping the weight down to the average airline restriction of 50 pounds! Claudette’s and my bags could easily be about 59-62 pounds, but a couple airlines have made us reshuffel the stuff around a bit.

It was refreshing in a small way to be driving late (VERY late) last night to our Los Angeles hotel in North American traffic. Cars were staying between the lines of their lanes. On roads and especially on the freeway, all vehicles were giving each other an abundance of safe distance, instead of riding practically bumper to bumper at every speed, 20 KPH to 90 KPH. People are not nudging their way into the 0.7m space between two other vehicles to force their way into a different lane, (lane of traffic I mean of course, not an actual painted road lane which are almost universally ignored in the four Latin American Countries we have visited). I am absolutely astonished that we did not witness even a single vehicle accident while driving on, or watching traffic on Latin American roads anytime in these past 30 some odd days. This is not to say that we didn’t see some incredibly close calls; we did. But with barely a few centimeter crack between them, we never saw one vehicle come in contact with another. I can only surmise (with my very limited experience, and dubious credentials in these sorts of matters) that all drivers know that each other is driving in a crazy, or rude, or erratic manner (from a Canadian or US perspective) and compensate with a very heightened sense of awareness of all traffic around them. Claudette will be deeply offended by these comments, but I will stand by them.

On the other hand, I have noticed a profound proudness in all Latin Americans we have met. When we have made even the feeblest of efforts to speak Spanish to people they are very receptive to that. Be it the hotel desk clerk, several taxi drivers or store sales people, they are all dying to know how we like their country. They seem to beam with abject glory and huge smiles over any positive comments we make. And they universally seemed to nod their head in lip pursed agreement at any mildly negative comments we have made (such as certain aspects of a slightly lacking transportation infrastructure). Ecuadorians seemed especially pleased when Claudette,the kids or I shared our thoughts on their countries perceived advanced state of building & transportation infrastructure, as well as our perceived observation about the far superior condition of vehicles on their roads. They got downright elated when we mentioned the incredibly low levels of pollution and smog in the cities, especially compared with Peru.

Even our late night hotel check-in manager in Los Angeles (of Argentinian & Peruvian desent) was anxious to hear how we enjoyed all areas of South America. And so, we had an amazing (though thoroughly jam-packed) first month of our odyssey thus far. We were told though that driving in many parts of Asia is very similar to Latin America, (bumper to bumper at all speeds, and constant budding in front of one another). Pollution we also expect to be a major problem in many other countries. We have been warned by a few people especially about the pollution in China, and specifically at its worst in Beijing. This was of course strongly substantiated by an article I just read in a recent WIRED magazine discussing pollution and the upcoming Olympics. We are wondering how poor Jim & Letty have survived the past three years without wearing carbon filtered face masks on a daily basis??? We shall soon enough find out for ourselves of course!

Today is a bit of a down day, catch up on rest, blog & journal entries, and hopefully picture backups & uploading (if I can find a place in LA???). We have two days in Sydney to see stuff before the camper van rental starts, so we will literally hit the ground running! (But only for the first few days Claudette! then you can relax…)

The full story: GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

We spent the day today (Tuesday) touring Quito (about 2.2 million people) today checking out churches, museums and best of all the Equatorial line. It was phenominally cool!!! They had a demonstration of the Coriolis Effect exactly on the line, and then 3 m each side and the water actually drained through a sink straight down, clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Even I (who had taught Alex & Luke about the Coriolis Effect at about ages 7 & 4) had no idea that the results would be so amazingly visible barely 10 feet from the line. I assumed (somehow???) that we would have to travel a couple hundred meters either side to get a distinct difference. Verry, verry cool school lesson… Can’t wait to take the video back and show it in the kids science classes next year…

Tonight I added to the Machu Picchu and the Jungle (first note from Quito) Blog entries the rest of my journal text. I haven’t updated the prices spreadsheet yet, but thought eveyone would love to know that gas on the Galapagos islands and in mainland Quito is abot the same: 35 cents/liter for regular unleaded!!!!! Don’t feel too bad, a guy we met on the boat from the UK says that it is just over CAN$2/litre there….

We fly out of Quito tomorrow to San Jose, then on to LA for a 25 hour stopover…

The full Galapagos logbook entry:

Spectacular Galapagos!

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

We’re still on the islands. With many amazing experiences under our belts after the last few days here. This internet cafe computer on the island won’t read the card with our longer postings on it. When we get back to Quito for a couple days starting tomorrow I’ll update the blog.

We’re all well, having a fantastic time! (Irregardless of 75% of our family violently emptying our stomachs in the first two days from being on the small boat in slightly turbulent waters. The burst blood vessels in my left eye should heal in a few weeks…)

In Quito & the Jungle log.

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

I left my small USB card reader at the security counter in the Lima airport this AM, so no more transfers until I have a chance to buy another… BIG bummer on that one…

Quito is nice, we only checked in to our hotel this evening at 5:30 and head out again tomorrow at 7:00 AM.

We get to spend a couple more days here when we come back from the Galapagos in five days.

Everyone is well and excited!

The full Jungle stay logbook entry: