Its been a while since we added to our blog, busy reading all the responses..... (2).
We are now in Cuenca a beautiful colonial city about 8 hours south (by bus) from Banos. In between we stopped for 2 nights at Riobamba. we had originally planned to stay 3 nights in Riobambo in order to go on the famous "devils nose train" which travels through some really scary terrain with sheer drop offs and hairpin turns. Sad to say it was not running (or so rumour had it) it may have been that our hotel that we had arranged to pick up tickets had dropped the ball.BUT not to be deterred instead, we took a tour to the 4800 metre level of Chimborazo volcano. ( we were told the summit is the furtherest point on the planet from the centre of the earth and the nearest point to the sun, as a result of the earths bulge at the equator (know how that feels as you get older) ) We then hiked up to the 5000 metre altitude and once we got back to 4800 metres in order to continue our "experience the Spanish Inquisition for youself tour" we proceeded to mountain bike 36 km down the volcano over a variety of steep, bumpy, impassable, treacherous, vertical,narrow,....(you get the picture) trails accompanied by 4, 20 something year olds. They waited for us occasionally... I hate being called SIR! It was great ....for three days after I vibrated like I had been using a pnuematic drill, couldn't keep a pea on my fork for a week.
Then to Cuenca. It really is quite lovely, with old cobbled stone streets, lots of sleepy squares with churches on a couple of sides, a river with houses hanging over the steep sides of the valley walls. We have met several "Gringos" who are retiring here (3 bedroom home for $65,000.00 with a good standard of living for less than a $1000.00 a month,. Here I go again , but this time even Elinor is impressed)
The hotel recorded our passport numbers and noticed it was Elinors birthday while we were here. The recommended a restaurant and when we were leaving to go there they gave us a bottle of wine as a birthday gift to take with us. The owner of the hotel knew the owner of the restaurant so he too knew it was Elinors birthday. As we were having swordfish, the chef (owner did not approve of us having the red wine the hotel had given us ,so it was just switched for a more appropriate rose wine (at no cost or no corkage fee) we had the most delicious meal we have had for years (OK so we don't get out much) The atmosphere was great, there was a classical guitarist playing and singing while accompanied by a lady singer. The place had an atmosphere that felt that if Humphrey Boggart had walked in it would have been no suprise. The whole meal was $20.00 including the free dessert for E's birthday.
Other good things, but I'm getting fed up now. We are going out for dinner tonight with a couple who are considering retiring here and the lady who just bought (gets the keys tomorrow) the house for $65000.00.
We are moving on tomorrow to a birding lodge which is about 8 hours south from here via bus. More adventures!
Will Malcolm fade away into nothing? Will Elinor EVER get bitten by a bug?Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of MALCOLM & ELINOR IN ECUADOR! When all these questions will be answered!
Whew I'm exhausted now , Bye for now, Malcolm & Elinor