My Lucky Boots

Boots Owner's Stories

New Years Hike, Quilotoa Loop

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 7, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Yes I've been to Quilotoa a month earlier, but if you read my blog, it was cloudy, foggy and no camera. So I was really looking forward to do the hike this time with Patrick, hoping for better weather. We took the bus at 9.30 arriving in slightly mellow weather up the crater lake 2 hours later. But after half hour hanging out there, the sun started to greet us. I only asked for 5 minutes sunshine to take my photos, but I got more than that. One of my happiest moment!


We stayed a night in Quilotoa at Chukirawa hostel, right across the lake. Damn cheap, 8 dollars per person, including dinner and breakfast. The room is so nice, clean and bright. Compare to overpriced Cabanas Quilotoa or the hostel next door, I think we got the winner in the area.


The next morning, we walked on the crater about half hour before we start making our way down towards Chugchillan. The walk is pleasant, and will always recommend the area by walking ( if you have time of course ). You can easily walk alone without guide, follow your instinct. It's a huge open valley you can see where you're going. Very hard to get lost I must say. We could see the canyon, Chugchilan from the distance and Guayama village.


The Witch and her Damn Family

We're walking on a fine trail ( supposed to be a correct way to go down to Chugchilan) when one local boy told us not to continue walking on that trail, cause it's not the way to Chugchilan ( lying bastard!! ) He then explained to us, we can't walk alone in the area and insisted we need a guide in order to go to Chugchilan. The only way to go to Chugchilan is 'his' way and will only cost 3 dollar. But we wanted to walk alone and take our time and enjoy it, we didn't want the guide at the first place. Then the boy started to make excuse that there will be a river we can't pass or the walk is dangerous, there will be thieves blah blah blah


Eventually we managed to ignore the boy and walked down but then we met the mother, the troublest makerest among the family. She was more persistent than the boy. We kept walking when she asked me if I want to take picture of her and the family ( with a cost of course ) "No gracias" . When we start walking down she was so 'concern' and screamed at us there's no way down there. But we kept walking and we reached Chugchilan 4 hours later in one piece.


We had a talk with Paula and Marcel in Llulu Llama, Isinlivi. Tourists spoilt the locals, they gave money and made them beggars in their own house. Yes they're poor, but sharing your lunch pack would be more appropriate than giving money. People becoming insincere, desperate or worse, they becoming vicious when they didn't get what they want. Kind of spoilt our morning a bit but we're glad to met them early enough during our trip, because since then whenever we asked for direction or talked to other locals, we met sincere people who helped us with a big smile nothing more than just willing to help, that's kind of making our day everyday for the next 4 days we walked in the area from Quilotoa to Sigchos.


Mama Hilda

It's a luxury hostel, I was there a month ago with good price ( thanks to Mitchel for the bargain ) this time we stayed there 2 nights just to relax and hanging out. We had privileged to met Mama Hilda herself and the whole lovely family, because it was during the NY, I think the whole family came down to help. Absolute treat for us.



The walk from Quilotoa-Chugchilan-Insinlivi-Sigchos are equally beautiful. But I have to say the walk from Chugchilan-Isinlivi is my favourite part. You went down to the valley in between beautiful green canyon and eventually walked on the side of the river bank before you making your way up again all on the slope of the canyon. We visited one house to ask for direction, a house on the cliff with a view to die for. We decided to have our lunch snack over there. The people are so friendly in the area, I felt like putting them in my pocket and carry them with me.



The Meadow

Reminds me of the meadow from the Twilight the Movie


On our last part from Isinlivi-Sigchos we took the steepest down and steepest up during our walk only to teach me something, that there's beauty of finding something great from the unknown and the uncertain. We thought we lost and started to feel hopeless right on the top of the hill, but turned out we're only 3 minutes walk from the main road and just right on time to hitchhike a local truck who kindly enough stopped for us.


It's a memorable way to end my 2010 and start my 2011, special thanks to Patrick who's been my amazing travel partner in the last one month who's now continuing his journey down south to Peru. I'm really looking forward for our next adventures in the future.


More photos of Quilotoa


Ecuador Mad Buses

Posted by Artesia Irawan on January 6, 2011 at 6:14 PM

Not everyone's favorite. But it is one essential way of transport for most of travelers here in South America. Not only that it's cheaper ( most of the times ) but it's more flexible. You can buy the ticket last minute before your departure. Also with the timing, there are night buses that save us the money for accommodation. It's accessible just fine, compare to getting into airport, getting through the pain in the ass usual ritual at the airport.


But yes of course, no need a brainer to tell me that taking a flight is saving a lot of time with extra bit of money. It's your choice really. But somehow I saw some of the most amazing view during my bus journey.


In Peru, I spent 100 hours bus journey, with 21 hours as the longest ( Lima-Cusco ), most of the time I took the Cruz del Sur with cama or semi cama seat ( cama = bed, figure out yourself ) but there's no such a thing once you crossed the border to Ecuador, as most buses in Ecuador are local bus that stopped at every houses if they have to, but that means the fun begins.


Very interesting to observe the locals in the bus, they love sitting at the front of the bus, applied to all age. Regardless even if they traveling together they would sit separated as long as they can sit at the front of the bus. Looks like there's a curse or jinx on the back of the bus that they would avoid it if they could or they could see a ghost standing at the back or something. No se


Another thing is, I couldn't think of any other nation whose people can be more than the Ecuatorianos as an impulse buyer. They buy everything in the bus, almost literally everything. From junk, medicine, make up, food, drinks of course. Therefore the most skilful salesmen might coming from Ecuador or the opposite, cause the people in the bus buys pretty much everything.

Don't expect a nice quiet journey in Ecuador if you're traveling by bus. There will be at least one salesman onboard and screamed on top of his lung and shattered your dream or maybe they will give you nice 'rap' background on your ipod music. Or worse, sometimes they show movie in the bus, but the salesman will be standing in the middle and blocking your view and literally screamed onboard to overcome the sounds of the movie ( which was always loud! )

If you're lucky, you have more than one salesman onboard!


You need toothpaste, toothbrush, soap? He got everything


There's is one guy selling a face cream onboard. First he would go through his booklet and showed it to the passenger in front of the bus just like a school teacher. He showed pictures of any kind of diseases, problems with acne and sort of stuff. And he would demonstrate and put the cream on his face and yapping around in Spanish I don't understand. Before that he gave one small bottle of cream to all passenger to allow them to think if it's worth buying it. Man, that guy is good, lots of people bought his product which could be just a sun block or expired cheap yoghurt for all you know in that bottle.


Or one day on my way to the border to Colombia, we stopped on the street for good 10 minutes. And I counted the people selling stuff inside the bus, there were at least 15 people at one time selling food and drinks. And somehow they managed to figure out how to walk on the aisle without knocking passenger head or bump into the other salesman. It's like a wave of people inside the bus in and out, worked harmoniously.



Don't make a fun of actor you hate and mock them before you travel on the bus, you never know what is waiting for you onboard. We made fun of Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal a lot before our trip to Canoa ( and you know the famous Chuck Norris facts )



And guess what, they played the DVD of Steven Seagal with total at least 4 movies in a row. Beat that! ( I'm so glad we're no in the bus going to the moon, otherwise they probably will play all the Chuck Norris movies too ... hiiii )


But one thing I still couldn't tolerate and deal with in proper manner without killing my insanity is the loud music they play in the bus. On our journey back from Perdenales to Quito, they played the music so loud that I had to use my headset just to redeem the sound and on top of that there's a couple sitting on the other side somehow hates the songs too and they took the matter in their own hand, which playing their own music from their mobile phone with burst speaker cause they play it too loud. And just before you think you're going crazy with two music playing at the same time, one salesman got onboard and with his very deep voice he somehow managed to overcome the sound craziness in the bus by screaming as if he's GOD calling all human during the judgment day. I felt that my skull is cracking and the inside of my head was ready to burst and explode. But of course not, but I thought I think I would be very happy if it happened. And I looked at Patrick next to me, calm and relaxed as nothing happened, typing his travel journal. Sometimes I wonder if he's a real human or not.

El Matal, Jama

Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 27, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Huh what? Jama? Where the hell is that place? We never heard of that place either when we met some locals in Mindo and told us to go to Jama if we want to go to the beach which less touristic. We went to the huge map in Cabanas Bambu and looked for the location of that place and later on looked at the LP guide book still have no clue about the place.


At first we wanted to check out Jama and then Canoa but from the book it looks like there's no road to go straight to Jama ( mislead ) so we aimed Canoa first and Jama. Which turned out just perfect as we hit the noise first and quiet time afterwards. It took us 40 minutes away from Canoa to reach Jama. And we realized Jama is actually a little town with lots of access to many beaches. That day the taxi driver took us to El Matal beach 15 minutes from Jama ( 3 dollar taxi ride ), apparently one of few beaches with accommodations. With no knowledge nor information about the place, we didn't know where the taxi driver supposed to drop us. So we just asked the available hostel in the village, which we only saw 3 of them.


There are only two restaurants apart from our hostel and they served dinner at 6PM only and somehow we successfully managed to miss our dinner on the first two nights since we only just wondered around town at 8.30 for food But on our last night we showed up at 6PM to make sure we eat something proper for dinner instead of beers.


Complete with all the junk you can possibly imagine


The town is a fishing village, lots of colorful fishing boats parked on the beach complete with the hammocks. During the day all the boats were wondering around alone on the sea until in the afternoon hoping for lots of fishes to sell, share or trade. 15 minutes walk up to the north of the beach you'll see a private beach and property separated with the village. The beach is bit cleaner and we only saw three people passed by us during our walk that afternoon.


The food and drinks at our hostel are incredibly cheap. A dollar for one liter of beer, dinner for 2 dollar per person and lunch for 2.50 for two! We expected to pay more before we checked out. Only the room we thought we could get cheaper than 10 dollar. There's another restaurant right on the beach with massive portion of food. The fish is almost as big as the huge plate they served or the prawns were half dangling off the plate. With the tent right on the beach, easily become my favorite place ( well also because it's the only restaurant on the beach)



More photos of El Matal, Jama









Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 27, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Another tourist spot for sand and sea. We arrived here late at night in the rain and mud, since some of the road aren't paved road. The weather didn't change the next day, it rains the whole day and finally just before dark the rain stopped and I managed to have a walk on the beach, without getting wet.


Canoa is located almost north west of Ecuador, where the huge strip of beach attractive enough to call the beach goers during the weekend, mostly the Ecuatorians and the surfers. The main street facing the beach full with restaurants and bars next to each other, easily created a competition who's place played the loudest songs! Oh and also beat this, they played the same songs like 20 times in 2 hours. You're sitting at one place and you could hear two or three different music simultaneously. At night during the weekend, you could hear the music banging into your dreams sometimes.


But on Monday, things back to normal again, when most of the bars closed and you kind of have the place for yourself again. But the same day we're moving to Jama ( another hour by bus from Canoa )


Bambu, Canoa




Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 24, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Ok I have decided to post all my stories today...




Another little hide out ( uuhh I love hide out ) Mindo is in the middle of a cloud forest, 2 hours from Quito, by bus. The town was so small with only 4 blocks. The town is packed with restaurant, café and hostels. More hostels than the place itself needed. First night we stayed in town as we arrived late and couldn't find the hostel we wanted to stay.



Cabanas Bambu

15 minutes walk from the center, we found another 'hide out' beautiful cottage like with wooden rooms in the middle of huge garden with lots of plants and flowers. The place is wide enough to play all afternoon, billyard, ping pong table, hammocks facing the trees. Sometimes the smell of the wooden building excite me rather than the hostel with concrete in the middle of the town.

Leo the caretaker of the place was such a pleasant dude, with two kids who lives just next door to our 'wooden house' always around to help or his smile is enough to brighten our day in the hostel.


Patrick, hammock and trees...


Around the area there are enough waterfalls for us to enjoy, forest, orchid garden, birds ( especially hummingbirds ) very quite place, perfect to hang out and enjoy the scenery. We went to the orchids garden, and I thought of my mum who loves plants and orchids. I took too many pictures of them for mi mama!!


At the end we stayed there for almost a week and heading back to Quito to do trekking. But we had to cancel it since it was raining a lot the day before we wanted to do the trek. So once again I wrote this post from the beach, much better weather today and hoping for nice sunset.

One of many waterfalls



Mindopus Ecuadoripus hokuspokus endesbreng endesbrong ( at orchid garden )

More Photos of Mindo















Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 24, 2010 at 7:40 AM

Oh my.... what should I say about this place, let me try. I came here first time on my way to Colombia and it was on saturday when the famous Otavalo market held. I was there for 2 nights because the next day on Sunday, there was censos in whole of Ecuador. We shouldn't leave the place until 5PM. But it was raining anyway so we just watched movie the whole time we were there.


I'm not talking much about the market, since Otavalo only famous about that one market. I think the area has more to offer than just the market. Although I hate shopping but the idea of buying little things to bring home, can't think of any other place better than the market


Jack, the victim of Otavalo Market


Cabanas Rose


I stayed at this hideout far from the city, with view worth every penny for paying the hostel... the dorm house was so beautiful there's little kitchen, little colorful living room with TV and DVDs, the chimney to warm us at night.  Our 'bedroom' aka dorm are so cozy, the bed cover was colorful. The hostel is right on top of the hill, that gives you pleasing view. I could stay here forever if I wasn't alone. The last night I was here, I was alone and I was scared haha... damn it was a complete dark out there. The next morning I told Paulina that I will come back here.


Cabanas Rose Otavalo, place I stayed more than a week.


Sunday, rains, movie marathon


Fair enough, I came back after one week, just right on time for another saturday market. Paulina was shocked to hear my voice on the phone that I'm back again. Too bad that Jung Mi, the Korean girl I traveled with from Colombia didn't really enjoy the place cause it was too far from the city and too cold for her. But the next 4 days I was in Otavalo I spend my time with wonderful Patrick, el chico de Suiza I met in Popayan. We checked out the rest of the place. We went to the laguna Cuicocha.



Laguna Cuicocha

The laguna was formed from the erupted volcano and made a 200M deep crater. For us, after days of rains, mud and miserable weather, we were blessed with perfect weather during our time in Laguna Cuicocha, beautiful sunny day, the color of the lake turned intense blue in the afternoon, the flowers reflect the color of the sun, the green grass sometimes sparkle from the sun too but the cold breeze complete all the elements enough to call the perfect day.



We came back to the dorm house and had a fun night with the girls Jane and Suz who managed to persuaded us to stay another night and later on they cooked for us and we all had some red wine. Yeah the ups of my traveling time.


More Photos of Otavalo and Cuicocha


Posted by Artesia Irawan on December 24, 2010 at 6:47 AM


Only 3 hours away from Quito by bus, Banos was originally well known for the thermal baths, but more than that, Banos become a place for holiday during holiday for some people. With  rafting, cycling, trekking, . you will never run out of any activities while you're there. The nightlife is another highlight of this place. During the weekend, the locals and tourist blend in one place to dance and drink.




I actually I came here for none of the above. I came to Banos for another spanish course. Lucky enough I found one good school in Banos which only one block away from the hostel I was staying. One week was good to refresh my memory for the things I learned in Arequipa and to practice my spanish, since the teachers was so eager to talk in spanish all the time, even during the break.


At Mayra Spanish School, Banos



But one weekend I managed to hang out with some people at the hostel, I bumped into people I met before again in Banos and we went for horse riding, lunch, dinner and night out. And we came up with 7 Bs, Banos, Beer, ( thermal ) Bath, Bisteck, Beer, Black Machine, Breakfast in one night . I got drunk, the first time in 4 months.



There's a volcano just 'right there' and made a scary noise one night. And the next 4 days I was in Banos, we had to deal with the ashes or sometimes sounds of thunder that was pretty much coming from the inside of Tungurahua. Me and Bruce the Canadian fellow I hang out at the hostel most of the time walked up to one of the view point to get 'closer' picture of the volcano, sure we had a great afternoon on my last day in Banos. Only a week after I left the place, part of Banos was evacuated due to the intensity of the volcano become a concern.



Cotopaxi (5897M)

Posted by Artesia Irawan on November 16, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Before I talk rubbish about climbing Cotopaxi, let me tell you quick facts about Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcano in the world, it lies 60KM south of Quito the capital city of Ecuador. When we're in the museum in Cotopaxi National Park, the guide told us that the volcano can errupt anytime now, since the last eruption was decade ago and then since 2001, they started to record some activity from Cotopaxi.


Ecuador is expecting a disaster when Cotopaxi finally erupt. The lahar will get to the city of Latacunga within 30 minutes since there are at least 6 river/canyons leading to Latacunga (where I am now) and the city is sit nicely below Cotopaxi 25KM away on the west. The guide told me, the authority has no plan whatsoever when Cotopaxi finally erupted. I just hope the volcano will stop 'living', it's too beautiful to erupt. 


Anyway, after the museum, the car dropped us at the the parking area at 4500M and we walked for about an hour to the refugio Jose Rivaz where we stayed for half a night before we climb to the summit at midnight. There are at least 70 bunk in that refugio, very basic mattress enough just to lie down and relax before the climbing. It's a very noisy refugio, as you can imagine at least 70 climbers walking up and down with their plastic boots and some practicing the crampon or the rope inside the refugio since the weather was shitty outside.


In my room there were at least 40 people sleeping and there were only two people snoring in that room, one on my left the american guy and one on my right my guide. I got headache not from the altitude, but from them.


I started at midnight since I'm always slow,  so we're the first one to climb. It was snowing when we started, my guide had to make a new trail up to the glacier and it's very hard for me to walk since the trail/snow still not steady enough to be stepped on but it's good for others to follow behind me. I walked with extra weight of snow on my bag, my jacket or hat, didn't really help me to walk up. 


The trail was a bit difficult for my level, it was steep for most of the time. But I learned from Chachani climb, the guide told me that I had a very good and positive mind and it's more important than just physical fitness. So I kept telling myself I can do this, I can make it. And I keep mumbling the whole way up, "I can do it".
There are scary path we had to do, it was a very small path made out of the scree slope of snows and If I actually did see what's down there I won't be able to see the bottom. I knew about this cause Joris the Belgian guy I met in the hostal told me about this path, so when I actually got there I didn't even wanna look down.


On top of the weather, I had the worst guide ever, he's trying to persuade me to go back from the beginning. In the first hour of climbing, he told me that if in the next 2 hours the weather still bad then we should turn around. I thought it's fine, but no one else turning around why should we? He turned around one time and told I'm too slow and it will be too late by the time we get there. But there are still lots of people still climbing way behind me. He said we're at 5400M (which Is bullshit, sure it was more than that) He lied about the time too, just to put me down.


He slowed me down during the climb, I had to stop from time to time to catch my breath but only for seconds. He would fall asleep or took a big rest and slept. I waited for couple of minutes and told him 'vamos!' I literally climbed alone that morning, I kept motivating myself and asked him how is he doing instead. Cause by the end of the day, I need him in this bloody over 5000M something.


He tried so hard to changed my mind, but he sensed my determination and eventually gave up and pushed me to the summit.

At the summit (5897M)


He told me that I won't be able to see anything on the summit, but then I chose the climb not the summit and continue regardless. About 300 meters to go to the summit, we could see the stars and we saw Latacunga sleeping from where we are. The view was amazing but I didn't take any picture. But approaching the summit the clouds came back and fair enough I didn’t see anything on the top just couple of minutes of other mountain and then disappear again in the cloud.

Going back at 5600M there's a blizzard and for the first time in a long time I was scared. The trail was gone due to wind and snow, the guide had to look for the trail. It snows almost the whole time until we get to the refugio and all afternoon.


Do I look like a real climber,compare to the fake ones in the background? 



The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times... the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. 'Mihály Csíkszentmihályi'

Faces of Alpaca and Llama

Posted by Artesia Irawan on November 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I did the downhill climbing from Chimborazo first refugio near Riobamba at 4800M.  Almost at the end of the trail we bumped into locals who's taking their animals back. Some of them are beautiful funny looking Alpacas and Llamas.


I took some pictures of  Llamas and Alpacas in Arequipa, so I thought I put them all together in one album. And put some more of them if I found another super cute Llama or Alpacas.


My favourite Alpaca below Chimborazo


Vicunas is hard to find since they're not domesticated  animals, although I raced with them down from Chimborazo with my bike,one of my best day ever.So basically Vicunas were on the other side of the dirt road and when they saw me they started to run and trying cross the dirt road but I catched up with them along the road until I slowed down and let them cross the road in front of me. 


More pictures of the Alpacas and Llama

190 Years of Cuenca Independence

Posted by Artesia Irawan on November 4, 2010 at 6:20 PM

Thanks to the festival I was stuck in Vilcabamba ( not that I'm complaining staying longer in Izhcayluma ) there are no room available in Cuenca because of the fiesta. I met Franc in Vilcabamba who's coming from Cuenca and he actually went to 8 hostels and no room available, he ended up staying in a dodgy room for 15 dollars a night.


Wednesday 3rd of November was the celebration of Cuenca Independence, but they've been partying since weekend, so it's like 6 days of fiestas!! I was lucky to get a bed in El Cafecito (not a hostel I would recommend though )and managed to see what's happening in Cuenca during the fiesta.


I walked around in the morning to catch all the street parade, military parade, street artist, market it's a fine day I must say.



After seeing the parade, on my way to the hostel ( to have lunch ) I saw hundreds of people gathering outside a building. Saw the poster saying 'Bienvenido Presidente' still didn't get me that I'm in Ecuador already that means the 'famous' president that I saw in the news a month earlier is coming into town.


So with my height and my fairly telephoto zoom lens, I managed to get ahead of everyone to take picture of him. But there was a time I don't need my zoom lens since he was right in front of me to shake hand with his people. Lucky there's no tear gas this time, otherwise I could have been the victim too :-)