Ecuador Part 5 Quito/Cotopaxi

As I sit here in Florida, writing this blog about Ecuador, during what looks like a second worldwide wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, I can’t help but think how our world has changed in the blink of an eye, less than six months ago traveling was simple, all we had to worry about was to not overstay our tourist visas and vehicle temporary import permits … aw the good old days!!! Now that most borders are closed, putting a stop to international travel, it feels like we lost our freedom and our way of life especially since we just sold Silver, our trusted steed and home for the last five years. Will it ever be the same again? … I sure hope so because we are more than ready for another adventure.

Now back to Ecuador, this blog is about our return to Quito, how we celebrated our birthdays and a week long visit to the Cotopaxi National Park.

February 12 – March 4, 2018

After our life-changing Galapagos adventure, we flew back to Quito, said goodbye to Eva & Jason and spent a few more nights at the Colibri Hostel by the airport, where Silver was waiting for us. Carlos, the super friendly hostel administrator told us that he was opening a new place down the road, so if you are a traveler in need of a place to stay or to park your rig near the Quito airport, check it out: Samay Glamping.

On Valentines day, February 14 2018, we drove back to Quito at our same spot at the Circulo Militar (military club) in the City center, where we ended up staying another 12 nights to complete our dental treatments, get some mechanical maintenance done on the truck and celebrate my birthday with new and old friends. Since this was our second visit to Quito we didn’t do much sightseeing. You can read about our first visit by clicking this link.

A fun evening with new friends from California, Chris & Nicole. Craft beer and pizza at the Bandido Brewing in the historic old town. Sitting in a chapel under the watchful eyes of Jesus and the virgin Mary was surreal but after the second pint we knew we were in good hands!

On Sunday like a lot of Quiteños (residents of Quito) we spent the afternoon at Parque La Carolina, a popular park where locals gather on weekends to play sports or just to people watch. We got a few things from the farmers market and tried the yummy street food.

Did you know that Ecuador has ben attracting expats for many years, an estimated 10,000 retirees from the US and Canada call Quito or Cuenca home. The low cost of living, quality of accommodations, spring like climate year round, easy transportation, lively culture and a welcoming community are some of the reasons so many have decided to relocate to Ecuador.

It’s by joining an Expat facebook group that I found this incredible dental office called Dental Solutions. The quality of their equipment and the professional service was equal to any US or Canadian dental office but at a fraction of the price. $380 for a root canal, $420 for a crown and $15 per cavity filling !!! The husband had all the modern electronic equipment and made the crowns on site while his wife specialized in root canals and implants, her sister was about to graduate from dental school and was assisting in the office, she also spoke english which made it a little easier for us. Since our last visit was on a Saturday, their son was also in the office, he was wearing is own dentist uniform, he was so cute, he will definitely follow in his parents footsteps … his grandmother had started the clinic many years ago … a true family business!

When going to the dentist turns into friendship! After spending a week of daily visits at Dental Solutions in Quito, we became friends with the husband and wife team, we even took our new friends Chris & Nicole to get some dental work done.

When coming out of the dental office we noticed a Dodge dealer next door. We made an appointment and returned the following Monday. The team at Auto Delta was also very friendly and professional.

They changed the oil , filters and differential fluids, did a tire rotation and replaced the brake caliper pistons.

Overland vehicles ended up filling a whole area of the overnight parking lot at the Military Club. The next day we were told that they will no longer allow overlanders to camp, it was unclear why but it’s a shame because it was the perfect City camp spot.
Pre Birthday potluck dinner in Silver, It was so nice to see John & Mandi again, the last time we were together was in Guatemala a year and a half ago!

Yianni and Rochelle from Overland Diaries stopped by to join in the birthday celebrations.

We met them in Colombia a few months earlier. Great couple of Overlanders, check them out, they are currently exploring Rochelle’s homeland of Australia.

Overland Birthday Celebrations (February 23, 2018) with John & Mandi, Yanni & Rochelle, Chris & Nicole. After a few drinks at the Plaza Foch in the Mariscal district, we decided to go back to camp, we all gathered in Silver, ordered pizza, had a few more drinks and loads of fun!!!

A few days later we were all done with our city errands and decided to meet up in the mountains at the Cotopaxi National Park with John & Mandi and Chris & Nicole, perfect setting to celebrate Joe’s birthday!

Only 30 miles from Quito, the Cotopaxi National Park is located on the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a 200 mile stretch between two parallel mountain chains, it contains seven peaks more than 17,000 feet high, the tallest, 20 565 foot Chimborazo, was long thought to be the highest mountain in the world.

At 19,347 feet, Cotopaxi is also among the highest active volcanoes in the world. The last eruption lasted from August 2015 to January 2016 and was closed for climbing until it reopened in October 2017. Climbing the volcano is quite popular but definitely out of our league, however, there is a road that goes up to a parking lot at 15,000 feet altitude just bellow the most popular refuge where climbers spend the night before starting their early morning ascend. This picture was taken the day we arrived at our camp at 12,500 feet above sea level, but the next day the weather gradually turned and we lost the visibility, we waited a week but it never cleared so we never made it to the refuge.

Doing what Overlanders do: find an incredible camp spot, get camped up, start a fire and just chill! Can’t think of a better place to celebrated Joe’s 66th birthday!

Ecuador counts 11 incredible National Parks and like most of them, Cotopaxi was free to enter and to camp. We ended up spending a week just enjoying the natural surroundings and getting used to the high elevation of the Andes Mountains, at 12,500 feet we had a bit of a hard time but drinking lots of coca tea turned out very helpful.

This was amazing to witness, fog closing in from two different directions!

After a week of wild camping in the park, it was nice to take a long hot shower at the Rondador Cotopaxi Hotel just outside the park, they let overlanders camp in their parking lot for only $3 per person or $5 with electricity hook up, including Wi-Fi and shower access. We also enjoyed a good dinner and breakfast in their cozy restaurant.

A few Facts about Ecuador:

Population: 16.62 million (2017) World Bank

Area: 109,484 sq miles (283,561 km²)

Capital: Quito

Currency: US Dollar

Time spent:  2 weeks (Nov. 1-14, 2017) and 3 months (January 17-April 13, 2018)

Miles driven: 1,448

Diesel price per gallon: $1.03 (2017)

If you are a regular reader, you noticed that our blog posts are way behind. For more current updates you can follow us on Facebook at Joe and Josée’s Journey or on Instagram @ joeandjosee

NEXT: Ecuador part 6 … stay tuned!

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