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Ecuador -- Mainland and Galapagos Islands, Oct. 2011

Day 1, October 14. Fly to Miami and then to Quito, Ecuador. Stay the night at San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito.

The flight was pleasantly uneventful, and the stopover in Miami was fairly short. It was fun to see the landscape pass below as we flew south from Miami. Unfortunately, we encountered thick clouds as we flew over Cuba, but the skies cleared farther south and we could see some of Jamaica and ships crossing the Caribbean Sea. As we crossed into Columbian airspace in South America, and we were treated to a colorful sunset over the eastern Pacific and the coast of Columbia.

We arrived in Quito and easily negotiated the airport with the help of fellow travelers. A driver from our ecolodge (San Jorge Hosteleria) met us at the airport and, thank goodness, drove to the lodge, which was located only 15-20 minutes from downtown. The drive was interesting, as the sights and sounds were new, but the traffic was heavy and a bit crazy by American standards.

The ecolodge is located in the mountains above town. Trees around the buildings block the view of town, so the feeling is one of being way out in the woods, but there are overlooks with grand views of urban Quito. The lodge area originally was part of a vast land-grant hacienda (originally granted in 1537) given to a soldier for services during the Spanish conquest of the region. The land-grand was taken over by the Jesuits and eventually split into higher-elevation and lower-elevation sections. In 1905, the president of Ecuador bought the upper hacienda, and I believe, built the lodge buildings in use today (the buildings date from the 1700s). Dr. Jorge Cruz and his wife came to own the current lodge property and opened an ecolodge in 1989. Since then, Dr. Cruz has purchased other properties and established a string of hostelerias showcasing different environments of Ecuador, encouraging birdwatchers and other adventuresome travels to experience the wonders of Ecuador along his Magic Birding and Hiking Circuit.

Day 1, October 14
Flying over Jamaica
Day 1, October 14
Entering Columbian airspace
Day 1, October 14
Sunset over the eastern Pacific and coast of Columbia
Day 1, October 14
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Small, comfortable room (view from door)
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Small, comfortable room (view from bathroom)
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Small, comfortable room (view from bed)
San Jorge Hosteleria at Quito
Small, comfortable room (view from fireplace)

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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