Sarah and I left the winter behind us on February 17 with our flight to Quito Ecuador. We enjoyed our time in that historic city. The churches and museums could have held our attention for weeks. We then traveled to Banos, high in the mountains and at the base of the active volcano, Tungurahua. We hiked about 1/3 of the way up this volcano, but could never see the summit.
Transportation by bus is easy in Ecuador, if you don't count the treachery of the bus drivers. We purchased tickets for the bus from Banos to Quayaquill departing at 7:00 AM. We arrived a half hour early to ensure we would not miss our bus. The bus driver's assistant looked at our ticket and said that this bus, 15 minutes early, was our bus. It was going to Chimborazo, a town that was on the way to Quayaquill so, at his insistence, we boarded the bus.
When we arrived at Chimborazo the driver's assistant took us to another bus with its destination being Quayaquill. I assumed it was just a transfer, until I saw him give a few dollars to the driver's assistant of this bus. All was well until we neered the end of the trip when the assistant, now ticket taker, demanded we pay more. In my broken Spanish I told him we would not pay any more and that he knew why. We were left alone after that.
Despite the duplicity of the people running the bus system, it was a beautiful trip. The mountains and vistas were breath-taking. The other passengers on the bus were friendly and watched out for each other. At each stop we watched each others belongings when one or the other got off the bus to stretch their legs and warm goodbyes were exchanged even though our only connection was sharing a bus for the day.
We joined sailing vessel Downtime on February 24 in Salinas Ecuador. The weather was great, good food and cheep beer at the restaurants lining the harbor. We sailed to the Galapagos Islands where we spent three weeks enjoying the visual splendors and zoological curiosities. Then we were off to the Marqueses Islands of French Polynesia, 3,000 nautical miles to the west southwest. We made the passage in 19 days under fair trade winds and following seas, the perfect conditions for crossing the widest part of any ocean on earth.
After visiting four islands and swimming with massive manta rays, we left Downtime for Tahiti. We stayed at the Manava Hotel for a few days waiting for our flight to Hawaii. The Manava is one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever stayed at.
We flew to the big island of Hawaii and spent 3 days visiting the Volcano National Park and meeting Randy, KH6RC, the ham radio operator who kept us in contact while we were at sea. Finally, we flew to Los Angeles and spent a few days visiting Sarah's sister, Mary, in Camarillo before returning home. While there, Mary's significant other allowed me to fly with him aboard the 1951 Albatross sea plane. On the return to Camarillo from Burbank, we flew over the ocean west of Malibu, 180mph and only 20 feet above the water. An exhilarating experience viewed from the nose cone bubble. Thanks Dave.
It's great to be home, but looking forward to our next adventure.