Saturday, October 3, 2009


Today we needed to head back to Quito from Banos, since we had a plane to catch the next day to the Galapagos for our "cruise."  We had a nice breakfast at our hotel (the juice here is amazing - all different kinds of fruit - some good, some weird) and went to the bus station.

The busses in Ecuador are amazing.  If you are going along the main roads (in our case, the Pan-American highway), the busses leave with alarming regularity and are super cheap - usually within the $2 USD range.  You don't need to be at a bus station - all you need is to be along the road and raise your hand up - they will stop immediately and pick you up.  We were never targets of any shady attempts to get charged more because we were foreigners (yes - I'm looking at you, Vietnam).  Also, you don't need to worry about food because there are a constant stream of people selling stuff on the bus - some places even had organized sellers who wore uniforms of blue or yellow, so you knew the merchandise was good.  There were potato chips (real ones), plantain chips, "stews," tamales, water, Coke, DVDs, candy, etc.  Basically, you could get off the bus at a town, hang out for an hour, head back to the road, and be back on a bus again without waiting for more then five minutes.  It was like having a subway that runs the length of your country.  We waited less time for a bus going half-way across Ecuador than we do for a bus in Seattle that goes five miles.

We decided to stop along the way at a small town call Latacunga for an hour or so, since it had a huge Saturday Market that attracted a lot of the indigenous population from the highlands around Cotopaxi, the big volcano in the area.  We got off the bus and hoofed it over to the market, which was actually a series of about three huge markets.  These markets were not tourist markets at all.  They sold clothes, food, food, and more food.  The town itself was pretty much a dump, but the market was awesome.

We picked up a bus again (wait time - 0 seconds) and headed off to Quito.

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