Oct. 12: We slept better
this night but have realized that we are again dealing with being at
9,200 feet in altitude after having spent eight days at sea level.
Edwin picked us up at 9:15 a.m. and
we headed to El Pannecilo where there is a statue of the Virgin of
Quito overlooking the city. All the guide books warn of pickpockets
and thieves being prevalent in this area but we only saw the stall
vendors and a few others visiting the overlook and statue. Perhaps
it was because we were there in the middle of the week and the
middle of the morning. There is probably more activity on weekends
and at night. The statue is a metal copy of a small wooden one that
was carved by an indigenous artist, Legarda. The original is in the
National Museum. This virgin is patterned after the description in
Chapter 12 of Revelations.
The relatively new botanical gardens
was next on our list. Edwin had never been there either so he
enjoyed the visit as much as we did. The orchid house is fantastic
and well worth a visit. The gardens are small but we spent more than
an hour taking in all the different parts as well as seeing a few
birds that were enjoying the nectar and seeds produced by the
A supermarket was our next stop - I
wanted to get some packets of the toasted corn to take home. I would
have loved to just meander up and down every aisle looking at all
the products but we wanted to take Edwin to lunch and needed to keep
watch on our time.
Edwin found us a really nice
cevicheria not far from the hotel. We all had bowls of ceviche
which was delicious. The place was very clean and lovely. We even
discussed going back there for dinner but it didn’t happen.
It was hard to tell Edwin good by
because we had come to love him during our time on the mainland. He
is such a nice person as well as an excellent driver and spotter.
Later that afternoon we decided to
walk again on Rio Amazonas and got caught in a downpour. We took
shelter in a bank entrance during the worst of it but still got
pretty wet. Came back to our room, dried out and then went down to
the lobby only to find Charlie sitting in the waiting area. It was
great to have a few minutes with him again before he and his new
group headed out to do some shopping. He was very pleased to learn
that I had managed all the hikes when we were in the Galapagos.
Mercedes arrived at 6 p.m. to tell us that a fellow named Augusto
would pick us up at 4:15 a.m. to take us to the airport tomorrow.
We had a light supper and decided to
try to get to sleep early. We had repacked our luggage the day
before so there wasn’t too much preparation needed.
Oct. 13: True to form, we did
not sleep very much. Up at 3:30 a.m., down to the desk at 4, paid
our bill and Augusto arrived. Traffic was nil! We made it to the
airport in less than 30 minutes and began the process of getting to
the Continental check in desk. The gauntlet is different in each
Augusto was able to walk us to the
entrance to the building but go no farther. At that point we had to
show our tickets and passports to the guard at the door. Once we got
10 feet in the door we had to show them again in order to get into a
line. The next person who checked the tickets and passports also
made the decision as to whether luggage would be hand searched.
Thankfully we did not get selected for that “honor” and were allowed
to get into the actual check in line at that time! Once the agents
showed up, check in went quickly, and we were directed to the line
where we paid our exit fee and had stamps placed on our boarding
Then it was time to begin the
security/immigrations/security gauntlet. The first person only
wanted to see our boarding passes, then immigration checked our
passports, kept the entrance slips we had been issued the day we
arrived and stamped our passports. After that we proceeded to the
security area with the scanners for hand luggage. We were told to
remove our shoes and belts. I tried to explain about my artificial
knee but they could have not cared less that I set off the machine!
Once our carry-on luggage and shoes and belts went through the
scanner we were waved on our way... go figure!
At the gate another security person
took a portion of our boarding passes and checked our passports. If
we needed to leave the boarding room for any purpose, we had to
surrender that small part of our boarding pass to the security guard
as well as our passport. This was necessary even to go to the
bathroom. We got them back upon returning.
The flight to Houston was uneventful
and not full so we ended up with a seat between us and were able to
sleep a little. We arrived on time and went through customs with
ease. The flight to Denver was full but there were no problems.
Gathered up our luggage and waited for the bus to Boulder. Once
there, we were picked up and transported to our home by our good
friend, Annie Smith.
It was hard to come down off the
wonderful high we had experienced on this trip to Ecuador, but
looking at the pile of dirty laundry brought me back down to earth
Again, we must thank Mercedes and
Xavier of Neblina
Forest for making this trip of a lifetime come true for us. They
really did a great job of taking care of us and will do the same for
you. And without Charlie Gomez as our guide and companion and our
friends Mary and Jack Dodge and Marco Morales it would not have been
the same. I highly recommend traveling with friends in a small
group. We certainly hope to do this again in the not too distant