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guinea pig for lunch anyone?

semi-overcast 15 °C
View South America - out of Sorts on lidster's travel map.

If you ever want a culture shock spend some time in Central America and then pop over to Ecuador. Organised, clean, beautiful, did I say organised? Food disagreed with me for a day or so but since I have been doing next to nothing apart from mosying around then what do I care. Headed South as soon as I landed and this is a truly beautiful place. Valleys, streams, waterfalls, stunning. Only downside is that it is bloody freezing. I think it was about 22 or 23 in quito but when I got to Riobamba is was about 12. I only brought a light jacket. Almost caved in and bought one of those weaved numbers but figured I would rather freeze than live with the shame. I subsequently froze.

In the spirit of handing out some helpful advice to you, my dear reader(s), if you are planning to come to Ecuador (and you really should) then it would appear that the correct attire is entirely purchasable from a millets/patagonia/north face distributor near you. At each and every moment of each and every day you must be sufficiently equipped to scale the north face of the Eiger at the drop of a triple lined fleece hat. Nevermind that all you actually plan to do is to drink coffee and be driven (in your heated van) to the next waterfall you must be better equipped than special forces dropping into Northern Afghanistan. I saw one bloke who had enough of those coloured mountain climbing clip things to securely fasten a busload of ballet dancers to... well... to whatever, thats not the point. He didn't have any ropes and was having a leisurely cafe con leche (probably skimmed) and a slice of cake at the time. Tosser. Bit harsh but you wanted the truth, now you have to handle it. There are a large number of people who actually do hike. You can spot them though - they have mud on them and look knackered they are not looking replete with some cake crumbs on their fleece and wool reversible pullover. Remember - just beacuse you dress like Tina Turner it doesnt make you Tina Turner - and that advice is for everyone not just for members of my immediate family. Moving on.

So what else is news. Well I went to Banos and hung out for 24 hours. Hired a bike and took a recommended route through the moutains to see some waterfalls. I got there and almost had a heart attack. When I got back and asked the dude how high we were he said about 2000m. Ecuador is very elevated it turns out. Apart from the Western edges so they tell me. Waterfall for you - since I did risk serious injury to see it.


That was fun but the next day I took one of only 2 working trains left in Ecuador. It "works" Wed, Fri and Sun. Working in this respect means that it followed the contours of the earth for 2 hours when they had to stop the train for an hour while some blokes with large heavy instruments and what appeared to be limited railway engineering experience whacked the rails back and forth. Trip continued. Didn't mind though - highly high up, bit chilly but recommended.

At this point I will start using a star system. 1-5 with 1/4 point increments should do it. nariz del diablo - 3.5 stars. Which is good as I am normally a bit of a miserable bastard (for those of you new to this blog) especially at 7 am when this happens.

I cannot sufficiently explain my contempt for this particular genre of enetertainment. Fair does this guy is a local and it is a traditional instrument and I certainly do nto balame him but it has been forever ruined by the multitude of crap pan pipes cd's avaialbale. I am not quite sure what hell will be like when I do get there (hope it has a bar) but one thing I can virtually guarantee is that Elvis will be on heavy radio rotation and every elevator and public space will be playing famous 70's and 80's hits remodelled as pan-pipes shite. Apologies to those of you who like it but you have no taste. Download Beggars Banquet by the Stones and tell me I am wrong. In any case, I digress.

Apart from the above rather enjoyable rant all is going swimmingly well. I had a migraine the other day and went to a pharmacy where I was able to buy prescription migraine medication at cut price rates. I did ask and xanex, prozac and any other number of "not available over the counter" pills are indeed available over the counter. Cool. Its nice to be a place where the goverment appears to trust the people not to go crazy and only ask the pharmacist for what they actually need in the way of medication. This is of course rather than taking anything and everything in order to numb the pain resulting from the last batch of meds waring off. Anyway, enough for now, the bloke in the internet cafe has just sprouted 2 more legs and a fish's head. Better get on my surf board made of cheese and escape. scurgle, burgle blumph flh.


Posted by lidster 15:52 Archived in Ecuador

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Dear Mr Lidster,
I really must complain.
As the leading light and founding member of the Guildford Pan Pipe Appreciation Society, I found your comments sugesting that there could ever possibly be too many CD compliations of this most beautifully sounding instrument on the market, extremely upsetting.
It is these sorts of rants and raves that have cost my own Society dear. We are down to only three fully paid-up members, and this is leading us to be using almost our entire funds on batteries for two of the members hearing aids.
Yours Sincerely,
Jack Sprat
The Guildford Pan Pipe Appreciation Society (GPPAS)

Jack Sprat is currently in Mexico City, recording hither to undiscovered pan pipe Brit Pop cover versions for his next CD.

by Jack Sprat

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