s/y Nine of Cups
Ecuador
2003-2004
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Republic of Ecuador

Capital: Quito
Area: 103,000 sq. miles - smallest of the Andean countries, about the size of Colorado. The
country is divided into 4 geographical areas: Costa (coast), Sierra (mountains), Oriente (eastern
jungle), and the Galapagos Islands (600 miles due west).
Population: 11 million - 50% in cities
Highest Point: Chimborazo (20,109'), Mt. Cotapaxi (18,870´) highest snow covered active
volcano in the world.
Low Point: Pacific Ocean
Political units: 21 provinces
Language: Spanish (Castellano) and Quechua (People's tongue).
Currency: Used to be the sucre, however, in 1999 the U.S. dollar became the official
currency.
Exports: Petroleum is the chief export.  Other major exports include bananas, cocoa, coffee
and shrimp.  
Birds of South America
We're sure you thought the equator was
an imaginary line, as do many people,
but as you can plainly see, it's actually
bright yellow.  We're told it is sometimes
nearly invisible, but we were lucky as it
was quite clear the day we
crossed...reflection of the sun on the
water maybe?  Makes up for not seeing
the harpy eagles in Panama.  Here,
David pays homage to Neptune as we
crossed the equator.
The equator crosses Ecuador just north
of Quito and gives the country its name.
 
Ecuador
is Spanish for equator.
Our first port of call in Ecuador was the port of
Manta, a large commercial tuna fishing port
(they claim to be the tuna capital of the world!)
with about 250,000 people.  The harbor in
Manta is crammed full of fishing boats ranging
from the most modern available complete with
helicopters aboard to spot the fish, to
dilapidated pangas barely able to stay afloat.  
We enjoyed watching the small work boats
nestle around the "mother ships".
The truth about Panama
Hats..
.Montecristi - Hats, hats, hats!  
Everyone thinks the Panama Hat is made
in Panama... makes sense?  But they are
actually made (and always have been
made) in Ecuador.  Panama was the
major export center for shipping hats in
days past and people mistakenly thought
they were made in Panama and named
them "Panama Hats", but now you know
better!Above, David and hat maker
Modesto, count puntos in his shop in the
town of Montechristi, the hat capital of
Ecuador.  Puntos are  the number of
weaves per inch, which is one of the
measures of quality in a hat.
Isla de la Plata
Also known as the "Poor Man's Galapagos",
Isla de la Plata is part of the Machililla
(Mah-chi-lee-ya) National Park.  There are
several species of birds and plants that are
only found here and in the Galapagos, and
nowhere else on earth... including the Waved
Albatross.  Since sailboats seldom visit here,
we thought we'd give it a try.  The island got
its name when Sir Francis Drake, having
captured a Spanish galleon, stopped here to
count his booty.  "Plata" is the Spanish word
for silver, but also the common word for
money.  Isla de la Plata is small... about 4 sq.
miles, but packed with lots of bird, animal and
plant life including sea lions, red and blue
footed boobies, frigate birds, albatross and in
season, it is the mating area for humpback
whales.
Blue footed booby
 La Libertad - On the hard

The city of La Libertad and the Puerto
Lucia Yacht Club heralds the end of
another passage... Colombia to
Ecuador... a total of 1,280 nautical
miles.  Nine of Cups is having some
major work done here (teak decks
removed among other things) and will be
"on the hard" a total of 5 months.
Ecuador's largest city, Guayaquil, (2 million
people) offered lots of sightseeing as we took
a leisurely walking tour through
iguana-inhabited parks, past historic statues
and cathedrals and along the Rio Guayas.  
From the Malecon (boardwalk along the
river), we could see the brightly colored
houses of the Barrio de las Penas, a famous
old neighborhood, originally home to writers,
poets and artists.  As part of a city
reclamation project, it is being restored.  The
climb to the top is via 444 steps through the
neighborhood that is now primarily
restaurants and shops, though some private
homes remain.
Guayaquil - Las Penas view
The highlight of our first Ecuadorian inland trip
was a climb to the second refuge hut on Mt.
Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador.  
Though the summit is 6310 meters, we only
climbed to the hut at 5,000 meters (16,000 feet).  
This is the highest we had ever been on land and
the furthest from the center of the earth.  The
climb was cold and windy, but for most of the
trek, the sun was out and the mountain was
dazzling in its brilliance.  We lunched at a lovely
parador (roadside inn) with this view of the
mountain as our backdrop.
The famous El Nariz del Diablo (Nose of
the Devil) is a hair-raising railroad descent
from Alausi (2607m) to Sibambe
(1000m) via narrow gauge track along a
tortuous route of switchbacks.  At a 45
degree declination, it is said to be one of
the steepest in the world.  Add to this the
fact that you sit ON TOP of the railroad
car, not inside it.  This view of our boots
gives you a feel for the dizzying height and
lots of air beyond with no view of the
tracks below or beyond.
Climbing through the hills, we were able
to see lots of llama and alpaca, used for
their wool in the weaving industry.  We
also saw vicuna, a wild relative, roaming
free on the paramos of Chimborazo.
Located north of Quito, Ottavalo, home of the
longest continuously running market in Ecuador, is
only a two hour bus ride away and it's fantastic.  
We bought alpaca sweaters and teddy bears, local
woven goods (table linens and fine scarves),
beautiful jewelry and whatever else wasn't nailed
down.  The market is comprised of several distinct
sectors.  An animal market just outside of town
that opens at 5am for locals to trade, barter, sell
and/or buy livestock including cows, sheep, horses,
goats, pigs and sometimes llamas.  Crafts for
tourists is by far the largest part of the market and
the booths go on for blocks and blocks.  There is a
separate area for fresh veggies, fruit, meat, bread,
pastries and spices.  There is a section for
housewares (pots, pans, utensils) and "imported
from China" clothing.  There is also an area for
locals to buy material and jewelry for making their
customary indigenous clothing.  The riot of color, a
cacophony of sound and distinctive smells make
this an overwhelmingly pleasant, sensual experience.
Quito is Ecuador's capital and
second largest city.  It is modern,
but has preserved its historical
Spanish past.  La Virgen de Quito
sits high on a hill above the city.  An
unusual "virgin" representation, she is
depicted with wings, a crown of
stars and a leashed dragon at her
feet.  Revelations 12 is the
inspiration for the statue.
Otalovalean women are the most elegantly
dressed of all the indigenes, I think.  They
wear long, black or gray wool wraparound
skirts with a white inderskirt and a woven
sash around their waist.  Their blouses are
white lace with embroidery around the
necks and sleeves cuffs.  They wear a
shawl and like others, use another shawl to
wrap things (including babies) and tote
them on their backs.  They wear several
strands of gold handblown glass beads,
coral bead bracelets and gold earrings.  
They have a way of piling a woven piece of
wool on their heads for a head covering.  
They wear their hair in long, black
ponytails wrapped in woven ribbons.
Having a picture taken ON the equator
is a must at Mitad del Mundo (Middle of
the World), a park which demarcates
and celebrates the equator (although we
found out later that the equatorial line is
actually some 300 meters off!).  
Straddling two hemispheres is not as
hard as we had imagined and being in
the southern hemishere does not require
one to hang upside down by their toes.
We've lost several Ecuador files with
photos and journals. When and if we
locate them, we'll update this page.