Wandering Around Quito

Quito is the highest official capital of the world nestled between the Andes and the Pichincha Volcano. The city lies in the Guayllabamba river basin and is surrounded by lush trees. Quito has a very urban feel, think lots of people, cars, and buildings.


My lovely friend took me to the Guyasamin Museum on my first day. Divided into two parts, the tour includes a viewing of his murals in the Capilla del Hombre as well as a tour of his home. It was super interesting to walk around his home as it contained TONS of religious artifacts and art from around the world. Guyasamin was a fantastic painter who created works with such raw emotion behind them.

Quito’s historic center is a UNESCO heritage site. I thoroughly enjoyed walking along the cobblestone sidewalks admiring the colorful architecture. We visited the Basilica and San Francisco Church. The churches in Quito did not disappoint. They all had exquisite sculptures and stain glass displays. We also took a stroll around the Independence Plaza. Here we found the Presidential Palace, Cathedral of Quito, and Archbishop’s Palace. The square was quite busy and made for great people watching.

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We wandered down Calle La Ronda, which was the old bohemian district. It was election weekend so a lot of the shops and cafes were closed. However, we did find a shop selling Ecuadorian honey. It was quite fun taste testing honey with avocado and citrus flavors.

On my last day in Quito, I found a yarn store that sold Ecuadorian wool and alpaca ūüėć. I must say I controlled myself considering that the yarn was quite economical (5 100 gram skeins of alpaca blend for $30!). I love this dusty rose color and plan on making a cozy sweater.

 

All and all Quito is great to visit. It has a great balance of culture, architecture, and history.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Ecuador Jungle Experience

As our boat careened through the dark waters of the river I knew I had made a great choice in electing to go to the Amazon Jungle. I spent 4 days in the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve at Jamu Lodge. The scenery was amazing and it was nice to take a technology break. 

Cuyabeno is not easy to get to from Quito. I took and overnight bus (7 hours) to a shuttle (2 hours) to a boat (1 hour). However, once you enter the reserve is is all worth it.

So what is there to do in the jungle? First off, look for amazing animals.  We saw monkeys, snakes, birds, a sloth, Caimen, huge insects and spiders. We also go a chance to visit a local indigenous community and meet the shaman. My favorite part of the trip was the night hike though the jungle. It was a little scary, but unlike anything I have every done. 

The jungle was an amazing sensory experience. At night it was almost too loud to sleep. I am accustomed to city noise yet, in the jungle between the monkeys, cicadas, and grasshoppers there were so many unknown sounds. I also had to adjust to the heat. Ugh it was so humid. My hair was rebelling by day 3. Thank goodness for scarves! Visually, there was almost too much to look at. The water glistened as the sun reflected off of it, the leaves were all shades of green, the orchids were vibrant, and there was almost always an animal to check out. 

I also got time to finish my Slumber Party socks. They were such a quick project. We got free time each day and I hung out in the hammock area knitting away.


So if you are in Ecuador, I highly suggest a jungle trip. It is something you will remember forever. 

Hasta Luego,

-Whit- 

Adventures in Otovalo, Ecuador

So far my time here in Ecuador has been fabulous. I am so lucky to have a friend guiding me around to all of the sites. It also helps that she is fluent in Spanish as my Spanish is super rusty. We ventured up to Otovalo, which is a 2 hour bus ride from Quito. The bus ride was quite nice. We had comfy seats and lovely view of the Ecuadorian countryside. 

We arrived in Otovalo around 11:30 am. Our goal was to head to the famous marketplace as well as Lake Cuicocha. First stop was the market. It was overwhelming! There were so many items to see such as local clothing, food, and beautiful handicrafts. And then I found yarn ūüėć

The colors were GORGEOUS! So many choice to choose from. There was only one problem…all of it was acrylic *sigh*. Don’t get me wrong I am no yarn snob. However, I kind of have a personal policy when traveling that if it isn’t unique then I don’t buy it. I travel with a backpack and it is only 50L. If I load up on every hank of yarn I will have way to much to carry. So I showed some restraint and just said no. 

After a great almuerzo (lunch) of soup, baked chicken and rice, and blackberry juice, my friend and I headed for the lake. We took a 20 minute taxi ride to the park and were immediately glad we made the journey. The lake was a sight to see. It is a 2 mile crater lake smack in the middle of some mountains. You can hike along a trail that follows the perimeter of the lake. We walked about a 1/4  around before it started raining. The hike was lovely as you got to see the serene water as well as the vivid green countryside. Plus there were some ancient ruins along the way. 
All and all this was a great day trip in the Andes. Next stop is the Amazon Jungle!


¬°Hasta Luego!

-Whit- 

As always you can find me on IG @knitsbywhitsf and Ravelry as lilwhit

The Summer of 9 Islands

I am back! I can’t believe it’s already August. Just two months ago I was busy running around ending the school year and getting ready to get married. Well time has passed and it was one of the best summers of my life.

Our adventure began in Martha’s Vineyard where we got hitched! It was a tremendous event. My favorite part…watching over 80 people related to our lives come together to celebrate our love.

Shortly after our wedding we headed on a month-long honeymoon to both Croatia and Slovenia. Talk about an unbelievable adventure. While planning our trip many people were quite incredulous about our destination. People kept commenting, “Why there?” My now husband just smiled and said, “Once you see it you will know.”

Our trip was packed with delicious seafood, jaw-dropping blue waters, lush greenery, and rocky craggs. We started in the southern part of Croatia.

2) Lokrum is a small island near Dubrovnik. It was so relaxing to walk through the trees and take dips in the ocean.

3,4,5) We visited the Elafiti Islands (Kolocep, Lopud, Sipan) via boat tour. I was amazed by the amazing stone buildings lining the shorelines of the towns. So charming!

6) Vis Island was one of my favorites. The combination of delicious seafood, lovely scenery, and friendly people had me wanting to stay for a while. Activities we enjoyed? Riding a scooter through the countryside and boating into the Blue Cave.

7)  Brac Island is home to one of the most famous beaches in Croatia (Zlatni Rat). And what a gorgeous beach it was. In the town of Bol there was also a lovely waterfront that made for a great evening hangout spot.

8) Being in Rab Town on Rab Island was like stepping into the middle ages. Picture stone buildings with cobblestone streets overlooking the Adriatic Sea. We drove to Suha Punta which was a park consisting of beaches and coves to spend the day relaxing by the water.

Our 9th island was in Bled, Slovenia. Bled contained a gorgeous lake with an island in the middle. On said island there was a fabulous church that was so picturesque it had me saying, “Woah!”¬†IMG_9554[1]

Well now consider yourself in the know. Croatia and its neighbor Slovenia are both amazing countries with a lot of offer all kinds of visitors. I am so very grateful we got to have these experiences.

 

 

Peruvian Homestay

While traveling, our journey took us to the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Here we had the opportunity to stay¬†with a Peruvian family for one night to gain a perspective of local life. It was a really interesting experience. After a lengthy boat ride, we arrive at the dock where we were greeted by the locals. Once in the village center, we were given traditional outfits to get prepared for ¬†the “dance party.”¬†¬† The party was quite entertaining. There was lots of music and laughter between us visitors and the locals. When were¬†done, we hiked up to our home stay for the night. There was no electricity, so we ate our delicious dinner ( 3 kinds of potatoes, soup, quinoa, and rice) by candle light. Peruvians love lots starch so¬†rice and potatoes are served at every meal. ¬†You most certainly never leave the table hungry!

Here was our view the next morning:

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Gorgeous right? At around 7:00 am we headed  to the kitchen to make some grain like pancakes ( think something like fried dough) for breakfast. Our hostess did the actual cooking as the stove was a heated by a live fire.  Our cooking efforts came out pretty tasty. IMG_7232

After breakfast it was sheep herding time. Yep you read that right. Sheep herding time. We got the sheep out of pen and started to lead them to pasture.¬†Herding 15 sheep to one spot is not as easy as it looks. Let’s just say I would rather knit with the wool than care for the sheep. They are quite stubborn.¬†ūüôā

 The night before I told my hostess that I liked to knit. Knitting is not uncommon among Peruvian women. Everywhere you go women have yarn slung around their necks and their fingers are moving rapidly. One thing I noticed was that not many women used patterns. It seemed that in most communities access to patterns was very limited. My hostess had never made socks before, so she asked me to show her how to make some. The task was too great for a couple of hours ( we only got to the heel gusset) so I am going to try and mail her a pattern. The only problem is that all of my patterns are in English. So if any of you know of any basic sock patterns in Spanish please leave the link in the comment section or email me: knitbywhit@gmail.com. It would be much appreciated by the local women.

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Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience. I don’t know if I personally could lead a life like this, but it is always intriguing to be able to take part in the local way of life while traveling.

~W

Conquering Machu Picchu

Hello all! I am finally back stateside, which means I have reliable internet.The internet  was so slow in Bolivia I could barely load pictures. So for the next several posts I will get you up to date on my vacation adventures.

It has been a couple of weeks now, but I am in still in awe that I did it. I hiked the Inca Trail and made it to Machu Picchu in one piece YAY! It was the thing I was most worried about on my trip. Don’t get me wrong I love hiking, but hiking up to altitudes of 4200 meters for 3.5 days straight was a little intimidating. I definitely psyched myself out with all the blog posts I read and YouTube videos I watched. Here is a recap of my encounter:

Day One- ¬†The anticipation had built up and I was a ball of nerves. I was going to do this…yikes! The first day of hiking was not too bad. Basically some rolling hills on a dirt path. A pretty good warm-up in my opinion. We made it to camp in the early evening and enjoyed a ¬†beautiful night under the stars.

Day Two- ¬†By¬†far the hardest day of the hike. We¬†hiked for about 7 hours straight and ascended around 1000 meters. Hours 1-4 weren’t that bad. The scenery was quite pretty and I had a great playlist on my iPod. It felt like any other hike I had done in California. Then hour 5 came. I hit a wall. I was getting dizzy and I felt I could not catch my breath. I had to stop every 50 paces or so to rest and convince myself not to quit. Thankfully there were some encouraging people in my group and they got me through the “Dead Woman’s Pass” to the summit of the mountain. The sense of triumph I had was unbelievable. I did it!

Day Three-  I could finally enjoy the scenery. Since it is mostly downhill, I could focus on what was around me rather than concentrating on all of the pain I was putting myself through. We got to enjoy some lovely ruins, snow capped mountains, and jungle-ish landscape. Aside from some blisters I was feeling good.

Day Four-¬†So on Day Four you wake up really early…like 4:30 AM early to make it to the Sun Gate around sunrise (entrance down into Machu Picchu). As we waited at the park entrance in the dark, I began to reflect on our adventure and that feeling of excitement stirred in me again. This was the moment I was going to lay my eyes on an another UNESCO World Heritage Site :). Machu Picchu is notoriously foggy in the morning so we were praying that the site would be clear and sunny. Boy were we not disappointed. The sun came over the mountain and it was beautiful.

All and all I am so happy I did this. It was not something on my bucket list, but it was a personal achievement that I will always remember.

Stay tuned readers for some more adventure recaps!