Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Gettin Our Mountain High In The Andes of Ecuador.....

Last night I crawled into bed looking as if I was ready for a sleigh ride through the hillside and Clyde and I realized that we weren't in Panama anymore.  I started with pj's with long pants and a sweatshirt top, then added a thick hooded sweatshirt, Clyde's winter coat and several layers of socks and slippers. After slipping the hood over my head I probably looked as if I was going out to rob a 7-11 instead of turning in for a good nights sleep. 

Outside Of The Building Where We're Staying On The Top Floor

Where are we you wonder? We are high up in the Andes Mountains in Ambato, Ecuador. At an altitude of over 9,000 feet the nights here cool off into the high 40's to low 50's with daytime temps reaching around 70.  Why are we silly enough to be here you might ask? We're doing another house sitting gig for one month.

We're sitting for a young expat couple that left the 9-5 working world to find a better way of life abroad.  Since they only plan to be here for a year or so they've chosen to live simple with the bare necessities.  They're renting a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment for the unbelievable price of $200 a month! But here in Ecuador just like in Panama homes are NOT plumbed throughout with hot water.  This lovely little dwelling has hot water only in the shower which is provided through an electrical shower head.  The rest of the tap water is cold......or should I say freaken cold and I'm expecting to see icicles hanging down from the faucet anytime now. But it DOES make for wonderful, crisp, clear drinking water that's perfectly safe to drink.

Our responsibilities include taking care of a lazy, loving hound dog named Jethro.  With twice daily walks to the park and other places of interest he's a joy to be around.  He's well behaved and responds well to commands taught to him by the owners.

Heeeeeeeeer's Jethro

Jethro The Blue Tick Hound Dog
He's Rather Quite Chilled Out Much Of The Time

And while going from sea level in Panama to the high altitudes of Quito, we knew our systems might be in for some shock from the altitude.  As our plane began to unload I threw my backpack over one shoulder and pulled my carryon bag off of the plane.  Immediately as I began to walk up the runway into the airport I felt slightly out of breath and thought I was just moving too fast carrying too much. As Clyde and I stopped to reorganize our luggage he said, "is it just my imagination or are we breathing harder than usual because of the altitude?"  It was true and surprisingly immediate that we began to feel the effects of mild altitude sickness and hoped it would remedy itself quickly.

View From Our Windows

Our hosts arranged for someone to pick us up from the airport and the ride from Quito to Ambato was enjoyable but long. We made our way to Ambato around 3pm after which our hosts showed us around their adopted new city.  The city of Ambato was totally destroyed not once but three different times by a nearby volcano that is still active today.  Although the city made of fairly new construction it's still packed with Ecuadorian charm.  Indigenous Andean people can be seen everywhere and stand out wearing felt hats and native garb. We toured the city yesterday afternoon with our hosts with a combination of taxi and buses, both are very inexpensive here. Our evening ended at a modern shopping mall where we had dinner in the food court topped off by a fancy coffee from a nearby shop. Still with slight headaches as a result of the altitude we spend the night cold and restless waking today hoping to warm up.

On A Clear Day We Can See Coatapaxi Volcano
So They Tell Us

We're looking forward to much more exploration of this city in the mountains in the next few weeks and will be taking plenty of photos along the way.  So stay tuned for our latest adventures that include packing on layers of clothing as we freeze our butts off house sitting in Ecuador.......along the gringo trail.

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