It’s the last couple of days on Frida, this morning it took all of 10 minutes to get from our hotel in Ipiales to the border to say goodbye to Columbia and cross back into Ecuador, the country where we had started 7 months ago.
Our final stop in Ecuador, before returning to Quito, was Otavalo. It was a strange feeling to be somewhere that we knew, where we had been before on the start of our trip. It was a nice feeling because Otavalo and it’s markets are beautiful and colourful, but also we were sad that this part of our journey was coming to an end. It was nearly time to say more goodbyes to the great people that we had met on our travels so far, 15 of these people had been with us from the beginning.
Before we do that though, Frida needed a good scrub down, we had to clean the mess we had created along the way. The eskie was filled with beer and a punch was made to help us get into cleaning mode. Chloe and Andrea did an amazing job in getting the eskies a spotless white and I had to keep the jerie cans filled up and give them a clean, along with the cupboard where they lived… anyway, not exciting stuff. We stayed in the same hostel as last time, the first time that we had lay in a hammock and picked an avocado from the tree, as you can tell it was a big time for reflections on the enormous, epic adventure we had just been through. Of course we also ate at the same Mexican restaurant with the group that night and then we went to bed ready to spend some dollars in the markets, early next morning. Before we slept, Chloe ordered us to finish our packing, so as we had done before getting on the plane, our clothes were squashed into our backpacks and our souvenirs rammed into our Otavalo bag, ready to send home.
The next morning we set off for the post office, the Corrios, to try and send our parcel home. Unfortunately the small 5kg package was going to cost us $128, and after much debate, we decided that we would be able to fit the contents into our luggage, somehow! We dontated one of our hammocks to the hostel, who seemed more than happy to upgrade one of their old looking hammocks.
There were a few things on the list that we wanted as souvenirs, so we devoured our pancakes covered in chocolate and fruit and got going. Six of us weaved around the stalls in the hope that we would have better bargaining power as a group. First on the list was an “Otavalo” bag, obviously named as we had purchased one last time and it had been used on our trip ever since, to carry clothes etc, it was a little warn and ripped, everybody wanted a new bag. In total we purchased eight, the original price was $18 but with a bit of haggling we managed to get large bags for $8 and small bags $6, we only got a small bag, mainly for our travel room when we have one.
Next on the list, some jumpers, or “Otavalo” jumpers. We were after three or four between us, some didn’t fit all, some looked worn or tattered, some just weren’t the right colour, but eventually everybody found a jumper they were after, Chloe really liked a jumper that Vicki had purchased, it wasn’t the jumper she’d initially been after, but it was much nicer, a good choice.
Final item on the shopping list was a painting, again we had seen one we had really liked at the start of the trip but as the large, famous markets are only on a Saturday, we didn’t have as much choice and we decided to forget about the painting that we had seen for $60 and start again. One really caught our eye but it was $60 too, immediately without us saying anything the woman halved the price to $30 as a special discount, more like half gringo price. We finally settled on the one we both liked for $15, nothing like a bargain.
A coffee and lunch was in order so we sat on the same balcony as we had over 7 months ago, watching the same activities as we had then, just thinking about the most amazing adventure we had. We tried to get another blog post on but we had spent too much time shopping and had ordered jacket potato with chill con carne, 15 minutes before we were due to leave.
Everybody got on board Frida with their freshly packed bags and souvenirs from the markets, Nina was the outright winner with her hands full of pressies for people back home, she still has a few weeks of travelling to do too – I think she may stump up the $128 to send them home. We did leave one passenger behind, Kaila decided that she would stay in Otavalo for a few more days, there wasn’t much point in her coming to Quito just to get back to Otavalo in a couple of days, this way she would be here for the Saturday markets, so we said our sad goodbyes and I’m pretty sure Kaila had a little tear in her eye, although she’d never admit it!
Quito, the full circle
There was a subdued feeling on our truck, Frida. We tried to blank it out by putting some music on, but we all knew that this journey was coming to a sad end. When we arrived back in Quito, we slowly got everything off the truck, Leslie cracked open a bottle of champagne that made a mess of Frida, after we’d made her spotless! Oh well, our time was done. As in the opening photo, Chloe lay on our luggage, somehow we had to compress this into 2 backpacks and 2 day packs, to get us on to the plane. As we weren’t staying at The Majestic (we’d already been through that experience) we got a taxi to our hotel, the hotel that our Galapagos trip was supposed to be departing from, but we didn’t have long to sit and relax as we were meeting everybody for another farewell meal.
Meeting everybody back at The Majestic, we did the same walk to the same restaurant; Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to have another Mexican. The food was delicious, again. Everybody was in fantastic spirit and when Scott asked who would like to make a speech first and to my suprise, Chloe stood up and said that she would go first! And off she went, thanking everybody for everything, for an amazing trip. And so the rest of the group followed and made their speech to the group, thankfully we’d had a few beers and they came out a little more confident than they would otherwise have done.
Once the speeches were finished, everybody had voted for individuals on various topics such as hardest worker, slowest, most organised, least organised, best all rounder etc, Chloe was the winner of cleanest, and in perfect timing, Scott rubbed her head to announce that the white princess had won this topic and Chloe shouted “get your filthy hands off me,” very witty, her present was a shot of tequila from Scott. I was pleased to win the best chef award, although I must say, Kaila’s bloody banana bread got a lot of mentions, still I won, she’ll be devastated and I can’t wait to rub it in! Kaila – must do better!
It was a good night, Leslie bought a full bottle of Tequila so we couldn’t really say no, even though we both hate the stuff. We finished in a reggae bar that played, well reggae, but lots of old English songs. We finished the night with big hugs all round, Scott shed a little tear, the wimp, and we slowly walked off and got a taxi back to the hotel. We were shattered, the last 7 months had been exhausting, but worth it in every way.
The next day was admin day, well mainly for Chloe as I had a 2 hour sleep in the middle of the day to shake off the tequila stomach. In the afternoon we walked around the local markets, just for fun. We bumped into Andrea who was getting a plane back to the UK in the next couple of hours, we said more goodbyes when we went to see Bernice and Sam before going back to Red Hot Chilli Peppers where we shared some fajitas.
Speaking to Andrea really hit home that we would be soon be leaving South America, I cannot believe that we will soon be on a plane heading for the UK. But then, talking to Chloe, we had somehow dismissed the fact that we are still travelling for three more weeks and we are going to The Galapagos tomorrow, exciting times still to come, even when we do land in The UK.