San Cristobal

I enjoyed the town of San Cristobal, Puerto Barquerizo Moreno, the most. Hundreds of sea lions were sunning on the beaches and I could spend a lot of time just watching them. They were kind of like puppies and cats at the same time; very playful with each other but also very lazy and slept a lot.

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Isabela

Isabela was the least developed island out of the three and we were told that it opened up to tourism eight years ago. However, it’s one of the larger islands and I enjoyed the snorkeling around Isabela the most.

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Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz felt like the most developed island and bit “big city”–all relative, of course. The main town is Puerto Ayora but there are a few things to be seen in Bellavista, which is on the way to/from the airport.

We didn’t do any tours from Santa Cruz so we saved some money by doing the many free things around the island. We talked to others who did some snorkeling tours from Santa Cruz and said they preferred what they saw on other islands, so I think we made the right choice.

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Galapagos Islands – Overview

This past month, I was really lucky to have my mom and family friends come to visit me in Ecuador. My original selling point about Ecuador to my parents was that they could come and see the Galapagos Islands, the super famous islands which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. At first they wanted to do a cruise, but those were pretty expensive and have to be booked pretty far in advance. Then they thought maybe see around Ecuador and Machu Picchu, so I sent along a travel blog I found about visiting Machu Picchu. While my mom was browsing that site, she found an article on DIY Galapagos. So, it was back to the original plan of visiting the Galapagos Islands.

Here’s a quick overview what we did, where we stayed and brief reviews. For more in-depth breakdowns and reviews, I suggest visiting Thrifty Nomad’s site. In later posts, I’ll explain more about what we did and our experiences. My mom said we stayed within her budget of $1500 per person, including airfare from Quito, Ecuador to the islands. In total we stayed 7 days on the islands, plus one day in Quito. That’s pretty good for her actually! We stayed in some pretty decent hotels, ate well, and had a great time. So while the Galapagos have a reputation for being expensive, it’s certainly doable.

We visited three different islands, Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal. These are the three main islands where there are bigger towns, hotels, tour packages and amenities for tourists. If I go back, I heard that Florena Island is supposed to be nice as well as Espanola Island.

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Spring in Quito

It finally feels like spring here in Quito because it has stopped raining every day and the weather is warming up. From our bedroom window, you can get a clear view most mornings of the surrounding hills and volcano. What I like a lot about this country is all of the colorful buildings. Across the city, you can see pink, yellow and teal buildings crawling up the hillside. On clear nights, we can even see the lit up Basilica down near the Old Town.

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Otavalo

For our next weekend trip, I decided we were going to Otavalo, a small town a few hours north of Quito. It’s still in the Andes, but this time the trip was a lot quicker and less winding than going to Banos. I wanted to go to Otavalo because it’s one of the biggest artisanal markets in South America, with a history dating from pre-Incan times. The native people, the Otavalenos, have been coming to this area to sell their goods for centuries and many continue to practice textile crafts.

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Walking Quito (Month 2)

Hi everyone, sorry for the long absence! I thought I posted this a while ago and it wasn’t until I was ready to write up my next blog post that I realized…I didn’t. Don’t worry, I’m not dead! Just not all that up-to-date. Anyway, here’s a belated post about what I did in February and part of March.

In Cambodia I biked; in Malaysia I drove; here I walk. This month we’ve done a lot of walking: to the store to buy groceries, to the little coffee shop down the road, to a restaurant for an almuzero. To get to know the city a bit more, we’ve done a couple of walking tours as well and learned quite a bit about Quito and Ecuadorian history.

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Baños

After a month in Quito, we figured it was time to get out of the city and see a different part of the country. We decided on Baños, which is about 4 hours south by bus and a popular tourist destination. It’s still part of the Andes mountain range as Quito, but a bit lower in elevation, so we felt we could breathe a bit easier there.

For those who know a bit of Spanish, you probably know that “baños” means “bathrooms,” which is indeed a strange name to give a city. Actually, here the word means something more like “baths,” perhaps because of all the hot springs in this area. Baños is situated at the base of the volcano Tungurahua and surrounded by waterfalls, making it an ideal location to combine the two and has made Baños a nice spa resort town.

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Quito, Month 1

Following our time in Phoenix and Arizona, Fitz and I began 2017 with leaving for Ecuador. Before leaving Malaysia, we had made the decision to spend a six month “working vacation” there. We chose Ecuador since neither of us has spent much time in South America – none at all for me – and Ecuador is one of the few South American countries where US citizens don’t need to apply for a visa in advance or pay any fees.

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