Quito - Days 2, 3 and 4

We've been in Quito for four days, and we've barely stopped!

After our 18 hour sleeping marathon, we woke and went on a crazy bus ride to Mitad del Mundo.  I use the word 'crazy', because they don't seem to have the same standards of safety as in the UK.  After 30 minutes, jam packed on the crazy bus (with about 400 other people - pictures to be uploaded soon), we arrived at the middle of the world - the equator.

Actually, there are two equator lines.  There's the huge tourist attraction:  loads of restaurants, a monument, a museum of sorts centered around a stage which had displays of regional music and dancing.  The second one actually sits on 0'0'0, and is host to some fun experiments which 'prove' that you're on the equator.  After balancing an egg on the head of a nail, we left for a less crazy journey home.

Yesterday we'd booked on the Cotopaxi tour - a trip up to one of the active volcanoes, walks in the surrounding area, and finally a trek up to 4800 metres.

Carlos (not his real name) drove us for a couple of hours to Cotopaxi, giving the tour guide spiel on route - it's a fascinating country - stopping to allow us to enjoy quiet walks off the beaten track in the stunning scenery.  We arrived at 4500 metres, where the snow had settled, to start the ascent to 4800m.

I can honestly say that the 300 metres up (900m travelled) was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.  The air is so thin, the terrain rough, steep too (1:3).  We stopped a few times, but finally made it to 4800m (picture to be uploaded)!  We took the opportunity to have a hot, sweet cup of tea and some food before descending ahead of the oncoming thunderstorm.  I slept on the journey home.

Today was another early start. This time Carlos (still not his real name) was taking us on a trip he does with another tour company (ie, isn't part of the usual available tours with GAP) down to 1800m and the home of Mindo, in the 'cloud forest'.

The first activity was the 'Mindo Canopy Adventure', which involved travelling a total of 3500m on zip-lines across the forest at heights of up to 200m.  Saying it was fucking amazing barely does it justice; it was literally one of the best things I've done, ever.  One of the lines (there were 15 total) we went with one of the guides, allowing us to film it (to be uploaded...).

After the zip-lines we visited the butterfly house and saw 25 different types of butterflies in cocoons and also flying around. Very pretty. And one landed on me. But in the picture, I look pregnant, so won't be uploading :)

After eating, we headed back to the hotel.  I slept on route.

Tomorrow we're going to the Galapagos.  We've been told that beers will be $3-4/each on the boat, vs < $1 each here, so we're heading out to enjoy cheap beers before our 4 days of sobriety :(