3rd January: Buenos Dias. Up bright and early for more adventure. First, breakfast (don’t pretend you don’t know me). I go for the omelette, so does Lil. It turns up and we rename it “Pizza Omelette”. Imagine they’ve just put the eggs in the pan, let them cook into an egg ‘base’ then been like, “Shit, it’s an omelette. Quick sprinkle the ‘filling’ on the top” and ta-da, one pizza omelette. Still bloody tasty though. I have an iced tea and spend less than $5. Lovely jubbly. Off to get a bus.
We hop on a bus to Araque where there’s a lake. It’s about a 40mins bus ride from Otavalo. I have honestly been on more buses in the last week than I did in London for the whole of 2015. That is not a joke. Jump off the bus (I use hop and jump because it is all done very quickly), and we jump in the back of a taxi/truck thing that takes us off road to drop us right at the lake. And WOW!!! It’s so beautiful. There’s always something quite relaxing and soothing about being near water for me anyway. I remember on tour in the US with Glenn last year and Handsome Chris was with us and we stayed at an RV site in Hernando (about 60miles south of Memphis). We were right next to the water and could stroll along the beach. It’s just calming.
There’s a boat that will take you around the lake for 30mins, getting you closer to the mountains and a volcano just sitting back slightly. Back in August a volcano called Cotopaxi erupted. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. I watched some footage on it. Really scary stuff. Luckily, the volcano near us doesn’t do anything silly and we enjoy our ride on the lake. Similar thing to the buses, they just let more and more people on. I thought we might sink. We didn’t. Obviously or I wouldn’t be complaining here about it. I did have a dream about our tour bus having an accident. That was weird. It was a woman driver (what did we expect ay, she was probably doing her make up whilst driving or worrying about what to cook for her husband), and the bus sped round the massive lawn and then flipped over. That’s what these buses out here are doing to my nerves. It’s getting better as time goes by though. Anyway, the boat ride cost us $2. Now there are some caballo (horses). Yay. Horse ride. Another $2. For a 15min ride. 2mins in and my horse starts playing up. I was like, oh good. I’ve got the knobhead one. But then he calmed down and Lukas and I rode off into the distance while Lillie was about 200M behind us hahaha. Her one didn’t want to move. Poor thing. It was a very hot day. We wait and she catches up. We enjoy a nice ride and tip the kids that get paid just $5 a day to lead the horse for you. This made me feel a bit bad. Like, I wanna experience all this things but when these young boys are in this heat all day. I’m a bit torn between what I’m meant to be doing.
We go and get some lunch. I’m trying as many different/local foods as possible. This time I have some fish, Talapia. Fresh from the nearby waters it’s cooked in a wok on an extremely high heat so that the skin is lovely and crispy too. It’s quite a meaty fish. The eyes are left in. It’s literally served as it comes out of the water. The eyes didn’t both me. The fact that I accidentally ate some of its FACE because I wasn’t looking and thought it was just the crispy skin, that bothered me. Still makes me gag a bit. It was nice though. Came with some salad and potatoes. That was $2 as well. For pud, we get some sorbet. Two scoops for 60c. I have coconut and raspberry. Now. Some of them were coming with queso (cheese). Mine didn’t. So I asked for it. I wanted to see what the deal was with it. And it kinda works. Like grated mozzarella. Might be why I felt a bit sick on the bus back though.
On the drive back, and throughout this trip so far, I have noticed the number of stray dogs. In London they say you are never more than 6ft away from a rat. In Quito, I would say you are never more than 10ft from 5 dogs. It’s really sad. Especially when they are just in the heat with no food or water. I’m not joking, there are hundreds. So I did some research. There was a stray dog called Arthur that was given some food by a group of athletes who were competing in an extreme sports event in The Amazon. After receiving the food, Arthur stayed with the team and completed the challenge with them, sometimes being pulled from deep mud and while the team were kayaking he swam beside them. After a Twitter campaign and talking to all the right people, the Team were able to bring Arthur back to Sweden with them where he was named King Arthur by new forever owner Lindnord (team leader). He had such severe injuries (that he had received before the extreme sports challenge) that he had to stay in quarantine once first in Sweden and had seen the vet. The team then started a charity named ‘Arthur’s Foundation’ to help other stray dogs in Ecuador.
Another guy, Colin Cole, was on a trip to Ecuador and was overwhelmed by the amount of stray dogs so opened a shelter called ‘Amigo Fiel’ which means Loyal Friend. He rehomes the dogs in the US and Canada. His page says that he once heard there are around 300,000 stray dogs in QUITO, imagine the rest of Ecuador. In comparison, there are approx. 100,000 strays in the whole of the U.K.