Into Ecuador – marking milestones and a new mindset for a new hemisphere

After one last hurrah in Colombia at Las Lajas Sanctuary near the border, we finally got our butts into Ecuador. We loved Colombia, but we were both ready to move on.

Our first stop was just outside of Otavalo at Rose Cottage. We were excited to visit the famous Otavalo market and stock up on some cozy alpaca things. At the end of our market visit and months of searching, we finally found a handheld orange juicer. The market had such good produce that we stocked up on some things including two bags of oranges and a bag of young potatoes. It would be OJ, coffee and potatoes each day for a week.

I’ve been following SeventeenBySix (two journalists and one euro van) for months because of their quality stories and documented camping spots. They’ve been in Ecuador for a while getting their van repaired, so we finally caught up with them. They were kind enough to let us stay in their apartment in Quito which is quickly becoming an overlander stopover. It wasn’t too long before Marcia and Doug (1/3 of Southern Tip Trip) rolled in to join us.

With a city base, we explored Quito and visited the long anticipated equator.

We don’t need someone to tell us we’ve come along way because our memories take care of that. It is sometimes nice to snap a pic that sums up in a shot just how far you’ve come though. We’ve hit the arctic circle, the arctric ocean, the 45th parallel, and finally yesterday the equator.

Moving into South America and the southern hemisphere has given us a chance to reset and reevaluate. What has really hit home the last couple of days is our constant rushing based on our preset end date. A year might seem like a long time, but tip to tip is a long way to go and all the good stuff is in the details. Yesterday, I started proclaiming ‘f$%k our end date, i’m sick of rushing’. Each proclamation got a little louder. Maybe I was trying to convince myself. We have a self imposed schedule primarily to ensure we don’t loose touch with our very fast moving industry. Now, what I hope and what I’m trying to believe is that I wasn’t employed because I was up to speed with all the new shinny things in the tech industry. I was employed because I got things done. So, maybe we’ll be back in the states by February and maybe we won’t, but this trip is not worth doing if you don’t get to stop and smell the coffee.


The big B – Bogota and around

First some fun facts about Bogota, a city of roughly 8.5 million. Admittedly beforehand, I had no idea that Bogota sits at 2,625 meters (8,612 ft) above sea level. This high elevation clearly translates into cooler temperatures (avg 14.5 Celsius).

Anyone who listens to National Public Radio (NPR) in the states for long enough, has probably heard of Bogota and it’s failed license plate traffic scheme.  Bogota limits the days you can drive by the last digit of your license plate.  To side step this annoying limitation, many locals have purchased second cars leaving them free to drive when they like.

On our first encounter with Bogota’s notorious traffic, we found that driver’s in the city were more respectful than in the smaller towns (they didn’t honk continuously and there were some engaged blinkers, oh my). On subsequent visits however, it was a whole different ball game and so the flow of Bulgarian curses commenced.

We stayed at Charlies Place Hotel which included free breakfast, parking and wonderful service.  The hotel is in walking distance of both the Brazilian and Bolivian embassies.  For the next 3 days, we laid down a lot of shoe leather (or I guess rubber since we were in our sneaks), walking more than 200 city blocks.  But, the end result is visas and a several days in and around Bogota.

We spent Colombian independence day exploring El Museo del Oro (the Museum of Gold) and surrounding neighborhoods.


Bogota is not a beautiful city, but you can feel the undercurrent of art, music and politics as you walk the streets. The people were nothing but welcoming and helpful to us.  At the very least, El Museo del Oro demands a visit. It’s a beautifully planned gallery that gives you an idea of the tradition of metalwork in Colombia.


While waiting for our visas, we also paid a visit to Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá (the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá).