June 01, 2004

Churches, snowstorms, and tropical islands

Colonial architecture summarized: churches, balconies, cobblestones, pastels, churches, balconies, churches and more churches. I spent the day yesterday walking around the old part of Quito. Kinda cool, but honestly, you've seen one colonial town, you've seen them all. That's when I decided that I don't feel like visiting any more big cities on this trip. Bor-ring. Think I'll give big ol' Lima a big ol' pass.

The other day I checked out the monument at El Mitad del Mundo, the Middle of the World. It's a monument built about 30km or so north of Quito, right on the equator. It's every bit as touristy and cheesy as you're probably imagining right now. I guess it's one of those things that you just have to do. Yup, there it is. There's the line painted on the ground. That's the equator. Yay. Oh look at me, I've got a foot in each hemisphere! Wait, now I'm balancing right on the equator! I tried crossing a few times back and forth, but I didn't even feel like I was migrating or anything. Then I went and used a washroom on the north side and then on the south side. The water went down the same way in both. So much for the Coriolis force.

After all that walking around and snapping photos that can be more easily obtained through Google, I decided I needed some adventure, so today I went out mountain biking on Volcán Cotopaxi. It's a volcano south of Quito, one of the highest active volcanos in the world, although all it's done for over 100 years is let out a few puffs of gas. They take us up in a truck as far as you can drive, and then from there it's mostly downhill - which is good, since the start is at over 4500m, i.e. over 2km higher than the peak of Whistler! There were a few uphill sections, but they weren't too long so I managed to survive ok.

When we got up there, there was a full-on blizzard going on, with the winds just howling. Not expecting snow on the equator, I was in my shorts. Smart. It didn't take too long though to get down to a lower elevation (only 4000m), and the weather improved as well. Overall the trip was pretty wicked. Crazy terrain - it's all páramo, high-elevation treeless terrain covered in lichen and a few stunted plants - looked like the arctic. I also got to witness the most spectacular bike crash I've ever seen. This Venezuelan named Ivan was right beside me, and we were just ripping down and I was watching him when his front wheel slipped and hit a big rock. Complete high-speed endo, totally pretzled both wheels. Somehow he wasn't even really shaken up.

Tomorrow I'm off to the Galapagos for 8 days, which should be amazing. Since I'll be out of touch for a while.....GO FLAMES!!!!!!

Posted by major at June 1, 2004 03:47 PM

Quote from George W. Bush:

"I'd like to know who leaked," Bush said in October. "And if anybody's got information inside our government or outside our government who leaked, you ought to take it to the Justice Department, so we can find the leaker."

I took a leak a couple of hours ago. No plans as of yet to tell the Justice Department about it though.

Posted by: Halifax at June 2, 2004 09:33 PM

Too bad about the flames (at least they won me $200 by making it to the finals)

Try to pick some info about snowboarding in Chile (ie. local hostels, eats, cheap lift tixs) or even better meet some rich South Americans with chalets (preferable not drug lords, or maybe...)

Posted by: lucifer at June 9, 2004 09:45 AM

Wow,is that last comment from the one and only Frank from my Salish days? What has good ol Frank gotten up to recently?

And for skiing boarding etc we stayed in Bariloche, the Argentinian whistler supposedly, but we were there before ski season so I don't know what the hill is like or if they have whistler like prices. But the town is sweet and the hostel we stayed at, la morada was great.

Posted by: benf at June 10, 2004 09:40 AM

Where are the pictures?
You know; Jon drinking beers with latina girls in thong bikinis, Jon hiking a volcano, jon saving the world from some evil plot by cocaine warlords...

Anyways, typical canadian boy - a plethora of culture, art, food, and history, and all he wants is a barbeque and a hockey game on t.v.

The trip sounds amazing, but you'll be missing a kick-ass keg party at my house this friday!

Posted by: tina at June 10, 2004 05:20 PM

Hey Jon!

It's been way longer then 8 days....what happened to updating us! JK! Hope you're having fun.

Posted by: Rach at June 24, 2004 09:56 AM
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