Lions, and Markets, and the Middle of the World.

I have a few adventures here but first…

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Henry showing off the flowers he picked.

We were very kindly invited along with a group of volunteers and most of the kids from FHC for a trip to the Zoologico de Guayllabamba (the Quito zoo). We set off on their big tour bus and headed through the mountains on about a 30-40 min ride. The zoo was a different experience from most of the zoos I’ve been to. Most zoos I’ve seen try to recreate the wild in the middle of a developed city, this zoo was cut out of the natural landscape. The mountains that surrounded us were truly incredible. The kids all had a great time with the kids from the orphanage, and Naomi grew attached to one of the little boys on this trip which convinced her to start helping out with Zoey and I at the baby house  (Casa Vaughn at FHC).

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The group of volunteers entering the Zoo

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I thought these trees were beautiful and the flowers out of this world

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Henry also seemed enamored by the flowers

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The natural landscape surrounding the zoo

A couple days later our family and our friend James woke up, walked to Terminal Carcelen (a major bus station) paid $2.50 per person to take a 2 hour bus ride (which included Batman Vs. Superman…en Espanol) to Otavalo. Otavalo is famous for its huge market and we were told many times that we needed to go.

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Naomi has been my ever faithful bus companion

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One of the many gorgeous views on our way to Otavalo

And after our scenic tour we arrived at a hectic and almost dangerously busy bus station…almost dangerous(?)… well James was almost run over, so maybe slightly more dangerous. Just watch your step and be aware of the crazy traffic. We found a HUGE market, stalls upon stalls upon stalls of many handcrafted clothes, bags, blankets, trinkets, food, spices, etc.

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We decided to find something to eat and found a small little place serving almuerzas (lunch). Many of the small restaurants have maybe 3 options for food. So for $2.50 a plate we each got a big bowl of delicious soup with a side of popcorn, bottomless Naranjilla (a delicious mild orange-like fruit) juice and a plate of chicken, beans and rice. Lunches are huge and generally inexpensive.

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delicioso

Then we set off looking through the plentiful stalls. One of the shops stopped us in our tracks with its sweet and mouth watering aromas. Right next to the street was a big metal bowl filled with peanuts that were simmering in a caramel sauce. I walked by it and within 20 minutes walked back because it smelled to good to pass up. The kids got ice cream cones and us adults went for the chocolate dipped bananos (bananas) and candied peanuts.

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Kids enjoying guanabana and mora(blackberry) swirl ice-cream…mmm

Many of the goods in the stalls featured leatherwork and alpaca wool. Each of the kids picked out something small from our day trip. Lola and Naomi opted for Alpaca wool socks and scarf and Zoey got a small leather purse. (Naomi wears her socks to bed every night, Zoey uses her purse everywhere she goes and Lola wears her scarf any chance she can get. I would say the trip was a success.) We headed back around 4 and spent 2 hours on the bus back home. We were worn out but very grateful for the experience!

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can’t see it, but there is a beautiful white alpaca scarf in there!

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Naomi proud of her Alpaca wool socks

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view on the way home

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This past weekend we decided to explore Mitad Del Mundo (The middle of the world) because that’s right Ecuador is on the Equator:)  It took us about 1.5 hrs to get there by city bus, which for our entire family was $0.80 there. Honestly, the inexpensive bus system makes everything so much better and exploration an economic possibility. The photos pretty much explain this experience and it was really neat, the kids really enjoyed it, and the mountains (again) were magnificent. Technically, the monument is not built on the right spot, but it was just as cool. The kids were nearly convinced that if they stood on the middle of the earth they would fall down…I’m not sure where that illogical notion came from but it was quickly disproven. Zoey was especially excited about this trip because she is a Jules Verne fan and knew there was no way to get the center of the earth, but the name was close enough that it caused excited jitters:)

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Sadly, 2 nights ago we bid our good friend James “Ciao.” He will always be sewn into some of our first memories here in Ecuador, we are grateful for you and love you James!

My next post I will be focusing on some different themes and not just about our adventures. Thanks for following and being a support!

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