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One trip, one country, many worlds--this is the mystique and treasure found in the diverse land of little Ecuador. In this country that would
fit twice into the land occupied by France, is the magnificent Avenue of the Volcanoes--an unequaled range of dormant and active volcanoes,
dominated by the awesome and powerful Volcan Cotopaxi; the mysterious, steaming, enchanted Oriente--the Amazon Rain Forest-with
ancient indigenous tribes jealously clinging to past cultures in defiance of encroaching "civilization"; the beautiful Andean mountains,
villages, markets and ways of life that beckon back centuries; the coastal area of beaches, fun and glamour and, of course, the unparalleled,
pristine, legendary world of the Galapagos Islands.
Casey's bedroom under the eaves Dining room Large bedroom in our family suite
We did not "do" things in the order I write. Actually, we broke up the Andes experiences for both the Galapagos and Amazon portions of the
trip; however, continuity of the narrative will be amplified  by dividing it into geopraphical, experiential  segments. So you have--
Part I: The
Andes;   Part II: The Galapagos Islands;   Part III The Amazon Rain Forest.

Flightless Comorans--(note the nesting one)--Galapagos
galapagos islands
the amazon
the andes
Quichuan mother and child at Otavalo Animal Market
Ecuador Coat of Arms
Ecuadorian Flag
We had the pleasure of spending three, albeit very short, weeks in Ecuador, giving us time to taste just a little of this intriguing country.
Above all we came away with the understanding that, though small, its diversity and complexities would take years to explore and know.
As with all countries wedded to their history and continuing to live in that history, the stranger is immediately immersed in the past while
walking in the streets of now. This is not a country which has demolished its heritage or the cultures and customs of its people, rather there
is a sense of celebrating and valuing the civilizations that have gone before. As with Peru, the illiterate Spanish conquistador Pizarro
plundered the country, destroying the magificent, accomplished Inca civilization. The Incan monuments and exquisite cities of Peru are
missing here--the destruction being more complete and sometimes accomplished by the Inca people themselves as they fled from the
invading intruders. This was the case in Quito where the only reminder of the temples, roads and buildings of that great culture are stones
here and there used in constructing new building.
Quito became our base as we left it for short excursions, coming back to it each time to prepare for the next adventure. Our six year old
grandson felt that he was truly coming home each time we walked through the charming door to the small, indigenous, authentic
Hostal Los
Alpes. Eschewing the plastic conformity of big hotels, we chose ambience, friendliness, cultural infusion and irreplaceable uniquess and were
not disappointed--the interior sort of wanders around with rooms tucked away down corridors and around patios, vibrant colors assault the
eyes, an electic collection of mementoes, decorations and just "things" adorn walls, shelves, tables, all places.

The hostal is located on a quiet street in a very secure and safe section of Quito--quite near the American Embassy. And when we left for as
many as  5 days at a time, the owners gladly stored our luggage and junk, having it back in our room on our return--clean laundry and all.
The warmth and service could not be duplicated at a Hilton, Mercure, etc. It was nice!
One of the common rooms at Hostal Los Alpes
Another charming common area
A little vignette from my journal: Casey (6-years-old) is entirely fascinated by the "fancy' telephone. "I haven't seen one like this before.
Ours you just push buttons but on this one you put your finger in the hole and do one number and then turn another number." He thinks it
is a new invention. Actually, it is a very old, black phone--circa 1940's. A good reminder of the world our children know. He ended up calling
the desk clerk and thought that was quite marvelous and exciting.