There is so much I could share about our trip to Ecuador...tons of stories & pictures, but I will try to keep this from getting too long.
Our trip started out adventurous, as it always does when we travel. We were supposed to fly out of Tulsa, and they were expecting lots of bad weather. Fortunately we were able to get our flight changed to leave out of Dallas instead, with no change fee. Score 1 for Continental Airlines!
So we board our plane in Dallas, and wouldn't you know it we had a delay. I know what you're thinking - a weather delay? No, no that would be too simple. Instead it was the lady in 3B who insisted on shoving her carry on into the overhead bin, despite repeated warnings that it wouldn't fit. When a loud crack! filled the air, I knew that was not a good sign. Needless to say, we were delayed 45 minutes waiting for maintenance to come fix the overhead bin. So we get to Houston with 5 minutes to spare to make our connection. After racing to the (furthest possible) terminal where our flight was scheduled to depart, we arrived just in time to see the door closing. I know what you're thinking - surely they'll take mercy on the pregnant girl who's huffing & puffing and will let her on? False. And the bad news is - there's one flight a day to Quito (where we were flying in to Ecuador) and that.was.it. So we were stuck for the day. Score -7 for Continental Airlines. Fortunately they did put us up in a hotel and give us some meal vouchers, so I'll add 3 points back on for that. But only because I love to eat, and the only thing that tastes better than Pappadeaux's is free Pappadeaux's.
Our flight didn't leave until 4 p.m. the next day, so we just hung out that day, and breathed a sigh of relief when we boarded the plane. We safely arrived in Quito around 11 p.m. that night, and went to wait for our bags. And we waited. And waited some more. I didn't want to go ask, because I didn't want to hear the inevitable. But we finally did, and sure enough - they didn't have room for our bags on that flight. So they would be on the next available flight. At that moment, all of the food vouchers in the world couldn't have made up for our frustration. Score -493 for Continental Airlines. So I know what you're thinking - it's one night Sarah - what's the big deal? Well, the big deal is the fact that Patrick's brother lives 5 hours from the airport, so it's not like we could just swing by the next night and pick up our bags. Now I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that puts Continental at approximately -2,376. Suffice it to say I'm not a fan. Long story short (not really, because this is already long) Continental ended up having the bags delivered by a driver, so I'll give them one point for that. Kudos, Continental Airlines. Kudos.
But enough about that! Ecuador was amazing...absolutely beautiful, and we were able to do and see so much during our time there. Here are a few pictures we took on our way from Quito to Shell, where they live. The mountains are so lush...it's absolutely gorgeous!
This is the hospital that Joe, Patrick's brother, works at. Patrick worked with him a little while we were there, and saw some stuff you just don't really see in the states, so he enjoyed it. The picture on the far right is the helicopter landing pad. There are a group of missionaries there who fly people in from the jungle when they need medical care
Here we are trying out some sugar cane...pretty sure Emanuel kicked the snot out of me for the next 2 hours after this. :)
So here's an exciting story for you. About a week before we were there, a taxi driver was driving down the road and thought a tree had fallen on the road, so he got out to try to move it. Turns out it wasn't a tree, but actually a 45 foot boa!! Um yeah, I would have fainted. He thought about trying to drive over it, but decided not to because he was afraid the snake might wrap up around his car. So he called the police and they came, but didn't have the right weapons to kill the thing, so they went to get different guns. When they came back, the animal rights people were there saying they couldn't kill it, blah blah blah. And while they were arguing over what to do, the snake slithered back into the river. Nice, huh? And the snake recently ate a 250 lb. pig, so we're not talking some small deal here. I think we were told there's like a $1,000 reward for the capture (or perhaps just sighting?) of it. I tried to convince Patrick that would be a great way to recoup our money for our airline tickets, but he wasn't interested. Wimp. This is a picture of the river, as well as one of the signs warning about the snake, and yes, a picture of a bunch of kids swimming in that same river. Makes no difference to them!
These are pictures from the market in Otavalo, which was such a neat place! It was literally wall to wall with merchants. They had such cute sweaters - of course I got a couple for Manuel, but I forgot to take pictures so I'll share those later. It was fun to haggle with them - though I did lose my touch towards the end. One of the sweaters I bought - they started out at $12, but I wanted to pay $5. I got her down to $6 and she was saying no, so I started to walk away, and finally she said she'd do $5. So I pay her and we walk off, and I suddenly start feeling bad. What's a dollar to me? Doesn't make a difference, but it might to her & her family, so I told Patrick I was going back to give her a dollar. Of course she laughed at me when I gave it to her, and Patrick insisted on calling me Princess Compassion after that...and yes, I know I probably ruined it for all the other hagglers, but I couldn't resist!
This is a picture of the way the local older ladies dress...they all have those hats on, which I think are so cute! And the other picture....um, yeah...that'd be guinea pigs. Hungry anyone? And no, we didn't try any.
One of the towns we went through was known for their jeans...they had tons of "name brand" jeans, and supposedly you could custom order them. Meaning you could have them measure you, then tell them what "brand" you wanted them to be and they'd make them....pretty fun, huh? No maternity jeans in sight, so I didn't get to partake in the fun.
Here we are with some local school kids...aren't they SO cute?! I have tons of pictures of them because once I started taking pictures, they all wanted in on the action...they were so sweet! :)
Ohhhh my, the flowers!!! Absolutely beautiful, and cheap, cheap, cheap! We're talking like a dollar or so for a dozen roses.
Here we are in Quito the day before we left. We took a gondola ride up to the top of the mountain - it was such an amazing view!!
This is a shot of the gondola. They have a bike rack on them too, because some (overly ambitious) people like to ride their bikes down the mountain. How cool would that be?! Other than the 47 times I would undoubtedly wipe out. Still, we'd love to try that next time we're there. They also had oxygen up there, which I certainly could have benefited from as I was pretty much constantly huffing & puffing. But we didn't partake.
On our last day in Quito we also went to the museum that is on the equator. It was so neat! They had guided tours and told us all sorts of cool stuff about the different tribes and practices of the people of Ecuador, and then we did all sorts of fun stuff on the actual equator line. I never realized it made that much of a difference, but it totally does! Here we are standing on the equator line - tradition is to put your thumbs up so the sun can fill you with energy or something. :) Yes, please! The next picture is of me with the shrunken head of a 12 year old boy...isn't that crazy?! I can't believe they used to do that. Our guide told us it's illegal now but some tribes have started doing it again anyway...yikes. Next is a picture of a stamp they put on my passport showing we'd been at the equator. And last is a picture of me trying to walk the equator line...holy cow that was hard! Not that my balance is fabulous anyway, but I was a mess on this thing. They also demonstrated how water swirls in one direction on the north side of the equator and the opposite direction on the south side of the equator, and right on the equator line it drops straight down. I couldn't believe it made that big of a difference only like 2 feet either direction, but it did! Ahh the forces.
Well I will stop with that. Suffice it to say we had a wonderful time and can't wait to go back!