So I met the group that I am going to be spending the next 15 weeks with!!.....8 blokes, 11 girls (3 couples) ranging from John, the Irish man who is 56, the Bel the Aussie, who is 24. Got a cross-section of nationalities, Kiwi, Aussie, Irish, Scotts an Austrian and the good-old Brits. Went out for pizza the first night to get-to-know everyone but wasn't a particually late night, ready for tht first day's travels early the next morning.
First destination was Otavalo, a small market town 1.5 hours north of Quito. On the way we stopped at the "real" equator. Apparently the monument I saw the week before was about 200m out and so we went and saw the tricks which only happen on the Equator: balancing an egg on a nail and watching water flow straight down a sink without whirling either clockwise or anticlockwise!
The hostel at Otavalo is just as you imagine traveling to be with a court-yard full of hammocks in the center and tables for us to play cards. In the evening we managed to pack 20 of us into the tiniest Mexican restaurant which was rather shocked by the influx as it can only normally seat 12 people....we squeezed!
Walking round the market was fun, and lots of bright colours. I am now an extremely proud owner of a new Ecuadorian bag!! The rest of the day was very relaxed with a game or two of cards with a beer or two....and lunch in a little cafe next to a school which was on fire!
The following day was a long drive and we stopped off on the road-side for lunch which we are going to be doing a lot. Reached an altitude of 4200m which is the highest so far on our way to Tena.