- Clayton & Thelma Nisley - Cuenca
12.16.04 - Were shuttled back to the airport and flew out around 730am. Arrived in Quito an hour later, took a trolley into city, and after several attempts finally found a bookstore with a Lonely Planet South America book. Continued on to old city and decided to stay at Grand Hotel, which was under renovations and fairly inexpensive. Afternoon went out and ate cheap Chinese, explored beautiful Old city, climbed the towers of the main Basilica and got a good view of the city. Stopped at an internet cafe, and then headed out for a dinner of empanadas and cake. Started to rain, and so returned back to hotel exhausted.
12.17.04 - Got up fairly early and headed out to Mitad Del Mundo, a monument located on the equator, about an hour from Quito. Explored the tacky site for about an hour and met a friendly American named Bill. Offered us a free ride back to Quito in his taxi, which we happily accepted. Enjoyed talking with him and swapping travel stories. Back in city, ate Chinese again and found a bus out to Banos, about 3.5 hours south in the middle of high mountains.. Arrived at dusk, meandered up steep road up a mountain, looking for place to camp out. Decided to ask someone about a place to camp, and they offered a community center beside their house. Slept there for the night.
12.18.04 - Woke up early and hiked down mountain into town. Decided to climb hill overlooking Banos, to the Mirador de la Virgen del Agua Santa. About 670 stairs to the top, met girl from Switzerland. Hiked down, used internet, and visited church with strange paintings of people being saved from natural disasters. Took bus to Riobamba, ate lunch, and got another bus to Cuenca. Beautiful ride through mountains, arrived in Cuenca early evening. Taxi to Casa del Vida, church/apartment building where we will stay. Ate dinner with Victor, one of the church members who lives there.
12.19.04 - Had breakfast and met Sheila Nolt, a missionary from PA living at the house. Went to church, where we were introduced to Clayton and Thelma Nisley, here with Rosedale Mennonite Missions. Ate lunch at a vegetarian restaurant with Sheila and some housemates. Went with them to another Banos (outside Cuenca) and climbed hill overlooking city. Took lots of pictures. Went back to Cuenca, walked around town, ate empanadas, then climbed Turi in the rain for a view of the city at night. Walked back to house, had cake/tea, stayed up late talking and looking at pictures.
12.20.04 - Walked over to Nisley's for breakfast with Sheila. Met their son Duane and his wife, who arrived yesterday from Mexico, where they teach at CanZion music school. Went back to house, packed up, and got a bus to border town of Huaquillas. Crossed into Peru with no problems, minibus to Tumbes, bought last remaining tickets for overnight bus to Lima.