January 14, 2011
By: Stephanie Box
Today we said goodbye to Yachana--to all the people who changed our lives over the past ten days. Following our usual symphony of wake-up alarms, we ate an early breakfast, a choice between fried eggs and oatmeal with raisins, at 6:30 to be ready for our 8:00 departure. Hugh, and a few staff members, saw us off at the dock as we started our journey back to Quito. A canoe carried us and our luggage, and a few villagers, upstream about twenty minutes to a small community where we met our van.
|Leaving Casa Quest.|
|Leaving our work gloves behind.|
|Loading up the canoe for our final ride.|
|Working our way to the port for our trip back to Quito.|
|Robert and the Yachana staff.|
|Michael found a friend on our canoe ride.|
|Adam hauling the luggage up the hill from the river to our van.|
|A store at the port where we waited for our van. The group stocked up on snacks for the long ride.|
Unfortunately, the van was considerably smaller than the now-luxurious bus we had arrived on. However, Robert, our guide Jose Louis, and our driver managed to fit our bags in with a little ingenuity and rope, and we were off. After two hours of travel and a tire change, we stopped in the city of Tena to eat lunch--packed sandwiches prepared for us by Yachana--and to stretch and walk around. Another long (five more hours) and cramped, but uneventful, ride later, we arrived in Quito. The change from the rainforest was jarring. Not only is Quito’s altitude much, much higher, but after our stay at Yachana, the sights of bustling city life--cars, buildings, people, concrete--felt unfamiliar and slightly overwhelming.
|Stacy, Lillian, Aashish and Celine enjoying lunch on our trip back to Quito.|
We had arrived in Quito around 5 pm and had a very short time to check in to Casa Sol hotel and quickly freshened up before leaving for the Teleferico cable car high in the mountains above the city to see the sunset. The ride lasted about twenty minutes and carried us over one kilometer above Quito. From that vantage point, we had a breathtaking view of the city, sprawling twenty-five miles long in a valley tucked between the mountains. In the distance, we could see multiple volcanoes, including Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in Ecuador. From that altitude, we stood above planes landing at the airport in the center of the city, as well as the cloud forest, a thick blanket of clouds creeping thickly along the mountains. As the sun set behind the clouds, the sky was illuminated with beautiful splashes of orange, red, and yellow.
|Rithu, Regina, Damaris, Caitlin and Stephanie getting ready for their cable car ride up into the mountains.|
|The view was beautiful.|
|Adam, Nick, Michael, Zach and Aashish|
|The entire group.|
|The clouds were beautiful.|
|Quito in the distance.|
|Quito at dusk.|
After the return trip down the mountain, we travelled to Cafe Mosaico for dinner. As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted happily by a dog that quickly became the center of our attention and spent the rest of the evening lying beneath our table. The restaurant was decorated colorfully and cozily, with a terrace that overlooked the center of Quito, including the old city center. The delicious Greek and Ecuadorian food satiated our seemingly insatiable appetites, and we returned to Casa Sol completely stuffed and ready to sleep. While the day began somewhat sadly with our departure from Yachana, it ended happily back in Quito, ready for the new adventures of the next day.
|Outside Cafe Mosaico.|
|The view at dinner of the old city of Quito.|