Your HostYour Host
Big Gee in Action
Visitor Map YouTube Channel Home Backpacking Caving Climbing Travel Mountaineering Rappelling email Me       
Links Disclaimer Credits
April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  [December Highlights] January  February  

December 2004 in Ecuador

31 Dec: New Year's Eve

Feliz Año Nuevo

Welcoming the New Year proved to be a bigger celebration than even Christmas. Again I was living in the center of it all on a street that was blocked off. The festivities officially began at noon but things really didn't get starteduntil early evening. Amazonas, the main street through "New Town", was turned into a pedestrian walkway lined with food vendors, stages, and revelers.

Años Viejos, or Old Years, are a staple of Ecuadorian New Year celebrations. These are large effigies that officially they represent the ending year which are burnt at midnight. Normally the figures are made in the image of various political figures. My plan was to hang around with V, her friend, Kirsty, and Ram until midnight to watch the burnings and hopefully get some interesting pictures and movies. We also enjoyed many free drinks at the office with Morgan between some of our exploring.

Mission accomplished. We and the throngs around us enjoyed lots of food, drink, and music before what I expected to be the main attraction - midnight and the new year. Well it turns out that most of the Ecuadorians actually go home before midnight. Huh? Then at midnight there isn't even any sort of countdown or toasting the new year. Between 11.45 and 12 the streets where mostly empty when the effigies were lit. I remember V asking me how much longer before midnight, and I replied that it was 6 minutes after already. After one last bit of street food I headed back to Moggely's and what I thought would be bed.

28 Dec: Rhona heads to the coast

Rhona, who you came to know as the star of many jungle photos, has left for the coast. Yesterday she was late and missed the bus, so this is her second try. After Puerto Lopez and Montañita (both places I visited back in April) she is heading to Perú. So this was goodbye for us. Meeting her was certainly unexpected, and we had a lot of fun together. Good luck and have fun, Rhona. You made the end of December very memorable!

25 Dec: Feliz Navidad y todo esto

Merry Christmas

Rhona and I had an invite to the South American Explorers Club from the manager to pass Christmas there filling ourselves with turkey and wine. Sounded great to us. And it was great. Lots of great food and drink. Marianne put on quite a feast and then crashed out on the lawn before actually getting to enjoy the fruits of her labor. It was good enough that we never left instead sleeping the night in front of the fireplace.

24 Dec: Guiding

After getting back to Moggely's I found out that I would be guiding a day hike around Papallacta. No rest for me. Good thing I had some clean laundry. It turns out I knew the client, Barbara, from when I was living at the Andes Range. Small world. But it meant I had to leave the office at 05.45 in order to arrive up there in time. I'm still trying to catch up on my sleep.

My next guiding engagement is 1 - 4 January. Also around Papallacta. January is going to be a busy month for me.

19 - 22 Dec: The Amazon Basin: Cuyabeno Reserve

I have my Cuyabeno photo galleries and journal up now, and with some luck I'll have choice photos from Rhona added within a week.

Because I have journalled it on the photo pages I'll keep this intro short.

Cuyabeno National Reserve is located in the Ecuadorian Amazon Basin. The easternmost portion of the reserve borders Perú. The northern border is close to Colombia. It has some of the best wild jungle in the country. Getting to it is a lengthy proposition even for the western, more highly visited section.

I met Rhona at the late Chris's hostel. She was a traveller that stayed around to help out around the place after he died. We hit it off very quickly while I was staying there helping out too. Sunday Morgan suggested we make a trip to the jungle before Christmas and he could get me a discount. It sounded like an excellent plan except we had to leave from Jamu's Quito office within 2 hours. Rhona had to unpack her beach bag and repack for the jungle, but we made it right at the last minute and soon where on our way to Amazonia.

Jungle trips aren't something that a person can really do independantly. We booked directly with Jamu Lodge located on the next block. They already were heading down there with two American tourists. They and a number of other agencies operate in the western portion of Cuyabeno.

Check out the trip: Cuyabeno Day 1. There's monkeys!

16 Dec: Iliniza Sur, not even close (5,248 m / 17,213 ft)

The time had come to make a trip out to the Ilinizas with Tom and give Sur a try. This was supposed to be my second time up to the summit and a feel good mountain after not getting the highest peak on Cotocachi. Plus I'd be leading it which is always a great feeling.

Well events conspired against us. Tom and I were supposed to meet in the refugio. But the weather had been very rainy lately. Very rainy. When I got to the end of the public transport in El Chaupi at the foot of the mountain, I discovered that none of the 4x4 shuttles could make it up to the trailhead. D'oh! It is like a 6 hour hike in the rain and mud in order to arrive well after dark by that time.

So I waited at the end of the line for Tom. After 2 hours I gave up on the boy and headed back to Quito. Either he was already at the hut and could climb Iliniza Norte by himself in the morning or he was still on his way and wouldn't be reaching the hut anyway.

As it happened he was still en route. Our transport crossed paths. He left Quito a couple hours later than me due to being sick and having to rent gear. He picked up transport in a different area though and never stopped off in El Chaupi to receive my message. The truck couldn't get him far though and he had a terrible 1000 meter hike up to the hut in the rain and snow. He arrived a half hour before midnight and had I been there couldn't have begun climbing at 05.00 as we had planned anyway. What a mess. He is still feeling sick.

12 Dec: The Andes Range and Chris Halliday

So as some of you might remember, I stayed at and did some work for The Andes Range Hostel, Adventure Tours, and Exporter for my friend Chris Halliday. To all of our mutual friends that may not have heard the news: Chris passed away in the hospital on the 12th from a heart attack after falling ill on tour. For the time being there is a memorial page. Sometime in mid January 2005 the hosting will expire. If you knew Chris, his family would appreciate a few words at the following address: theandesrange (at) I am currently helping sort out the details and watching the hostel. Passing away in a foreign land with no family around raises a lot of issues - not the least of which is contacting everyone to make sure they know. Hopefully this post will help out.

This comes shortly after my very good friend, Steve Rojem, died in Michigan. Both are going to be missed.

09 - 10 Dec: Cotacachi Attempt (4,944 m / 16,216 ft)

I went out with Daren and Emily to try and climb Cotacachi. Daren and I got the second highest summit (4824 m / 15,822 ft according to my GPS) but the main summit eluded us. We ran out of time and clouds came in so we couldn't get a visual on the section of technical rock we needed to climb. So I guess I'll come back for that one. The picture is me with the secondary peak in the background.

It was still an enjoyable trip. The three of us had been talking about climbing something together for awhile now. And we got to camp out and see Laguna Cuicocha. The weather was fairly nice too.

06 Dec: WTF!

You've got to be fucking kidding me. This morning I was startled out of sleep by a frigging marching band outside at 05.56. They were playing what I assume is the national anthem because it is the only song I have been hearing for like a week. I thought I was in a nightmare.

4 - 6 Dec: More Quito parties

This is a big holiday weekend in Quito. There are lots of flags and balloons in my neighborhood. It is probably good I am around to experience the festivities. Saturday I went out to the street to stretch my legs and found that it was blocked on both ends and people were setting up beer tents and putting out a lot of seating. Cool. Inside I found another parade on the TV while I was watching the office.

Sunday I said (hopefully not a final) goodbye to Brenda. She was back in town briefly before heading back to Colorado. She is still sick so is going back a bit early. Pesty parasites. That will teach her to be a volunteer. Hopefully the two of us will be meeting again in Colorado this May or June to hike the CT. We'll see. It is a long way off and anything could happen between then.

April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  [December Highlights] January  February  

Activities discussed on this site are often dangerous and ill advised.
You can do everything right and still die or be seriously injured. Such is the nature of adventurous pastimes.
The people affiliated with this site make no claims regarding the safety or veracity of information.
Caveat lector. Think for yourself and make your own decisions.

december.php last modified on 25 January 2017 10:59:21 UTC