Ecuador 2006:  The Andean Highlands

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The strange and elusive headless llama, a rarity in the Andean highlands.  I'll bet you've never seen one before.  Remember, you saw it here on the Eleven Shadows web site and nowhere else.

More pictures of llamas than you can handle on the Llu Llove Llamas, I Llove Llamas Page.

One more picture of the comfortable hangout room.



I felt like I could have stayed there for another two weeks.  But on the 19th, I was to be back in Quito to meet up with Lorenzo and Naomi.  However, I intended to take a slight detour before going straight back to Quito.  This involved turning my hiking-weary muscles to putty in Ecuador's finest rejuvenative thermal baths.

I went up to Sigchos to catch the bus to Quito, but taking the time to watch a parade, part of a festival, and walking around the Sunday market.


Dunno why, but I sure like this doctor's name.


  The parade at Sigchos, the largest town in the Latacunga Loop.


I rode the bus back from Sigchos to Quito.  Then, without pausing, I immediately caught a bus to the amazing thermal baths of Papallacta, watching Full Metal Jacket in Spanish on the bus' television when I wasn't gaping in awe at the beautiful scenery.

Papallacta is about 60km from Quito, sitting in a fertile valley at 3200m.  One of the most popular destinations in Ecuador, it tantalizes bone-weary travelers with its lush cloud forests and azure pools of steaming hot water. 

The first evening, I stayed in Hostal Antisana.  Since the very nice resort, Termas de Papallacta, was rather expensive, the idea was that I would stay in this inexpensive $15/night hotel and simply walk over to the pools. However, my plans were dashed.  Hostal Antisana is a concrete block with no heating, and my ears and nose remained cold the entire evening. 

I switched to the resort in the morning.  This picture is the pool that is quite literally right outside of the room in Termas de Papallacta.

This is Termas de Papallacta at night.

 I sometimes think of myself as a rich backpacker, other times a poor tourist. Perhaps a little bit of both.  Regardless, splurges like this are totally worthwhile.

I went on a very short hike.  Actually, hike is overstating it.  It was a walk, going up the hill from Termas de Papallacta along posted trails.  This is looking back through Papallacta valley at snow-capped Volcán Antisana.

Ecuador is riddled with volcanoes.  Many many.  In fact, while I was there, Volcán Tungurahua erupted slightly and had seismic activity.  Tungurahua erupted in 1949, completely destroying the town of Ambato in the process.

But I continued my travels undeterred.  I laugh in the face of danger.

This is the stream up the hill from Termas de Papallacta, a nice place to soak your feet or hang out.


Doesn't this look like a milk commercial?  Munching grass at Papallacta.

This is the town of Papallacta, which is below the valley from the public pools and Termas de Papallacta resort.

After three nights, including that shivering first night in Hostal Antisana, I caught a bus along the main road back to Quito.  I talked to someone named Willy, an Ecuadorian who told me that in the past five years, the cars in Quito grew from 120,000 to 270,000, choking the streets in traffic and exhaust.

But nevertheless, I battled that traffic and exhaust - I had friends to meet.


Returning to Quito after the serenity of the Andean countryside was a shock to the system.  However, it was good to meet up with Lorenzo, the drummer in my band Nectarphonic, and his wife Naomi, in Quito.

We took the El Teleférico tram to the way to the top of a towering 4100m peak overlooking Quito.

This is a view of the awe-inspiring La Basílica as seen from the outdoor patio of upscale Café Mosaico.


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