Monday, 1 February 2010

Ibarra - first stop in Ecuador

We broke our Quito-bound journey up a bit by first stopping at Ibarra. The place is famous for its ice cream, but somehow we managed to miss out on trying some. We were looking out for the few ice cream shops with a large copper bowl in the window - apparently the sign of good quality according to some locals - and happened apon a nice cafe by the main square, where we indulged in English tea and cake. Upholding the stereotype in style! Incidentally, the main square is a free wifi zone. Just remember to take some shades along with your laptop to avoid giving yourself permenant crows feet!
Ibarra is not a place that you care to stay long. We spent a day walking around and thats all you need. It's all very pleasant though. The square has the obligatory statue to which pigeons have done their best to decorate - the indignity of it - and of course you can always find some old men playing cards.

We got our bearings and started to plan what to see around the northern highlands- there is almost too much choice and seemingly no end of medicinal hot springs to choose from. Life's tough in Ecuador!
Unsure of which direction to head in, we decided to think about it over dinner and chose El Argentino in the Plazoleta Francisco Calderon. It was a master stroke. So much so, we went back there on the second night! The meat platter was delicious, large and only cost $12. It broke our traditional $1.50 almuerzos set menu, but it was worth it!

Be careful how long you stay out though. By ten o'clock most places have shut for the night and that includes hostels. Luckily, a couple of knocks on the door and our good SeƱora let us in!


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