Costa Rica – Ok…

Flight last night got cancelled, so had to stay the night in Costa Rica. Nice hotel though, free, which saved me some cash. Some nice Americans who were also on the flight bought me some beers too, so it all worked out nicely. Plus I got to have a go at some Bush-voters 🙂

Now in LA for just 10 hours or so. I’ve had just 3 hours sleep and have a ten hour flight this evening to look forward to. Bleah.

Ecuador – Guayaquil

Hmm. Tricky one to pronounce this one. I like to think it goes “Guy I kill”, as in “It was just some guy I killed”. Something like that anyway.

Big city. Amazingly developed for South America. Apparently they spent lots on redoing the waterfront. Doesn’t matter much. I’m just reading my book on Fiji and deciding which island to spend my 6 days on…

Ecuador – too long

It’s easy to get trapped in Quito. The hostel I’m in is called El Centro del Mundo. It’s a good place – full of other travellers (though most are more hardcore than me – most are on multi-year trips to every country on the planet). The real problem with the place is that they give out 12 litres of rum & coke every other day – which is fun, but tends to ruin your chances of doing much the next day.
Besides the cycling, all I’ve done is been to the Equator (where you can do the swirling water trick and balance an egg on a nail (apparently it’s easier to do that at the Equator).

But I’ve been in Quito for a week and a half now. Definitely time to move before I get stuck here. I was considering extending my trip so I could go to the Galapagos, but that’s expensive (trips work out at about a thousand dollars usually for a week), so I’ll probably keep my Sunday flight to Fiji…

Ecuador – whoosh!

Just got back from two days downhill mountain biking. I got a tour from Quito with two Americans, Bridgette and Andy. We went up to Cotopaxi (it’s a big ol’ mountain) in a Jeep, the got the bikes out and cycled down. Lots of fun – the roads are just dirt tracks, and not good ones at that, so you’re only in control about half the time (if that). We got some pedalling in for ten minutes or so through a valley, but it’s *!3$ hard work at that kind of altitude. The air just isn’t the same…

After that, we drove to a small town called Zimbabwe (or similar ;), which was full of the indig populace. We stayed ina small hostel, and woke up to a huge street party outside int he square. I looked very odd – words wouldn’t do it justice.

Anyway, we then drove up to Quilatoa, a huge volanic lake in a big crater style-of-thing. We cycled from there back to Zimbabwe for lunch, passing lots of small kids in ponchos on the road, who wave and shout ‘hola!’ (the adults just stare at you like you’re crazy), then got a quick lift to the next mountain.

At which point it started to rain. I suppose we’d done well to avoid it so far, but when it came it was harsh. We started above the clouds, decended through on rough, weindy roads through the clouds, fog and pouring rain to the road below. I think if someone had told me about it beforehand I wouldn’t have been keen, but it was actually really cool. Awesome, as the Americans said, Like a million hotdogs, Sir.

Ecuador – Knackered in Quito

I’m now in Quito in Ecudor.
I did go on a Pantanal trek in Brazil. I joined up with a bunch of French people, so I had to try to remember my now 10 year old (jeez) French lessons to keep up. But fortunately they (and the guide, Aildon) could speak English in reasonable form when they really tried, so we got by.
The Pantanal was cool, but not really as I expected. The countryside looks more like England than tropical Forest – all open fields and trees etc. Of course, it’s about a million degrees there, which makes a sizeable difference, and they have about a jillion times more wildlife (which was very exciting for all the French twitchers). We went Piranhana fishing, but didn’t catch anything, which probably explains why I still can’t spell it. We also did some horse riding, which was very strange, wading through swampy marshlands. Forutnately the horses knew what they were doing, even though I didn’t, so I got away with it. It was all good fun, and many cevejas and caipirinhas were had, despite the FIVE OCLOCK starts each day! Not fun that.

Anyway, after that, I went back to Cuiaba, then flew to Sao Paulo, and then today got my flight (at 6.40AM!) to Quito. If I don’t have a serious lie-in soon, there’s every chance I’ll have some sort of psychotic episode…

Anyway, Brazil is all done with. And I have to say that, on balance, it’s all right for a visit, but I *wouldn’t* want to live there. The language is hard enough – but if you don’t say something absolutely perfectly they feign complete incomprehension. *Every* time you go to the beach you will be robbed if you bring stuff with you. And despite all their protestations of poverty, there’s very little evidence of it – mostly they seem to be a 2nd-rate country because they feel like being awkward. Didn’t find a decent bar, food sucked, Rio has a nice beach, but the city sucks, my list goes on and on. The best bit was the Pantanal trip, of which I have very little complaints – good hotels, food, friendly people. Could almost be a different country…

Maybe I’ve just not had enough sleep, but I don’t think Brazil is my cup of tea. I much prefer Peru and (so far) Ecuador – much more sociable places, which loads more charm and character.

By the way, if it makes you English feel better, it’s been pouring with rain here for hours, and I have lost my coat, so I’m all cold and wet, despite only being about a mile from the Equator. Weird eh?

Brazil – Cuiaba

Even hotter here. About 37 degrees today. From here you can arrange a trip to the Pantanal for a few days – see wildlife, trek through jungles and get bitten by mosquitoes. Living in a cool Pousada with lots of small cats, some chcikens and the odd turkey. Bit weird, but fun. Not many tourists here though. Suprising.