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Postcard #2 -- Mainland Ecuador


Arriving in Quito at night, we didn’t get a good look around until we awoke in the morning to find ourselves in the Andes at 9,300 feet elevation, surrounded by 15,000 foot high volcanoes. There are many contrasts between the Galapagos and mainland Ecuador and one of the most pertinent to travelers is altitude. We had prepared for the altitude with prescription medication, staying hydrated, and not over-exerting at first. Still, we noticed a shortness of breath when merely walking, especially the first couple of days.

Rodrigo, our Ecuador guide greeted our flight and together with bus driver Roberto, made sure we arrived safely and efficiently at our accommodation, Mercure Grand Hotel Alameda in a district called La Mariscal. We soon met-up with our second guide, Eduardo and enjoyed the services of two knowledgeable and personable guides. With a population of over 2.5 million, Quito is shoehorned into its mountain valley, shanties and modest homes creeping up the surrounding slopes. Its colonial center was one of the first World Heritage Sites.

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   “Virgen de Quito” and religious painting on wood


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Postcard #1 Galapagos Islands

When we signed-up for a tour of the Galapagos Islands we imagined ourselves aboard our vessel, following in Beagle’s wake and mimicking Charles Darwin’s observations ashore. That’s not quite how things unfolded, though our five days in the archipelago proved as unforgettable as we’d hoped.

Our group of about 30 others was mostly from California’s Sierra foothills and organized by local veteran traveler and group leader, Lanny. He worked through Go Ahead Tours to arrange the itinerary, including the Galapagos, mainland Ecuador and Peru, international and local air transportation, accommodations, local guides in each country and more.

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 Our guide Alejandro and a giant tortoise

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Postcard 4 - From Myanmar(Burma)

Though we wished the river cruise had lasted longer, we were looking forward to seeing Inle Lake, and we are so glad we took the opportunity to do so. A 30-minute flight from Mandalay brought us to Heho Airport in Shan State. At an elevation of nearly 4,000 feet, we experienced an abrupt change in temperature, feeling almost chilly after experiencing nothing but heat and humidity since arriving in the country.

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Tea with our guide Kyi  & local young people/Farm market in Aungpan

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