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Change of Plans, Change of Jeff

Before I get into exactly what is changing with our plans and with me I must take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to Beth & Larry for hosting us.  We have spent the past 10 days in Cuenca. It has been an awesome time. We’ve stayed in luxury accommodations with family, ate unbelievably well (never thought I would have to go on a diet on this trip), seen some amazing sights and met new friends.

Cuenca Luxury Accommodations

After a couple of iffy spots on Isabela Island and in Montanita staying at Beth & Larry’s place was such a treat. Their apartment is awesome. After a grueling day of jogging up the steps of Turi and hiking El Cajas we were able to use the jacuzzi. The bed we’re sleeping in is gigantic. The showers are hot …all the time. Lindsay has access to great laundry machines 24/7. We were fed delicious home cooked meals. These accommodations were very conducive to planning our next stage.

Cuenca Food

I did not expect this. Yeah, I thought that we would eat well and enjoy a couple of nice meals but I wasn’t thinking that everyday we would be completely stuffed. We had pasta bake, Chicken Bryan, ate at the best sushi place in town, had fondue and what felt like a 12-course brunch. The food has been nothing short of 5 stars and our waistlines can prove it.

Cuenca Friends

Beth & Larry were kind enough to let us into their homes AND their lives. We went on road trips. We walked all around downtown and even took the double-decker tour bus. They took us to their favorite stores and restaurants. What really made this trip special was they also introduced us to their friends here in Cuenca.

We had the privilege of enjoying breakfast, getting a tour and meeting the owner of Casa Ordonez boutique hotel in downtown Cuenca. Alberto, the owner of the hotel personally cooked the four of us breakfast. His homemade banana pancakes were delicious!

We also met, had dinner and hung out with George & Chad – friends of Beth & Larry’s that have settled in Cuenca. They are originally from California. These guys, well Chad mostly, were responsible for the 12-course brunch I mentioned earlier. They are great hosts. Eggs, yogurts, bacon, crepes, fruit, granola, and almond lattes.

George is a local celebrity. More commonly known in this country as Ecuador George. He is the guy behind the hilarious blog www.ecuadorgeorge.com Not only did they feed and entertain us, George sat down with me and gave me pointers on blog traffic, SEO and how he manages his blog. We’re going to miss those guys and hope to run into them again in the future.

Change of Plans

We’re certainly going to miss Cuenca, but it’s time that we move on.  When we left the U.S. in early February we had a rough itinerary that would looked like this:

  • Galapagos – 1 month
  • Montanita – 1 week
  • Monta – 2 days
  • Quito/Banos – 1 week
  • Cuenca – 1 week
  • Peru Yoga Park – 2 weeks
  • Lima – 4 days
  • Cusco/Machu Picchu – 1 week
  • Bolivia – 1 month

We made some slight tweaks to our Galapagos arrangements and cut our Montanita time short because people said, and were correct, that it was just one big weed-fueled party scene there and that a week was too long. Good call.

Two other themes in Galapagos and Montanita became very clear. The first, we should skip Manta and go straight to Cuenca. OK – we did that. The second is a bit more dramatic and is the reason for this section of the post.

Almost everyone we chatted with couldn’t quite understand why we wanted to head south and arrive in southern Argentina around June – their winter. We explained that we wanted to ski there and thought that was the best time.

Each person gave the same, somewhat puzzled look and said “well, yeah – you could do that — but do you know how fucking cold it is down there in the winter?”  Side note: The first few times we got this question our dumbass, cocky Chicago attitudes would kick in…something like “Um…cold? We’re from Chicago..so…yeah…we know cold…”

Finally someone explained just how cold and miserable…. and windy and cold and miserable and really cold and super windy and roads are closed and people don’t survive all the time …it is down there.  We needed that.

They went on to suggest that we head down to Argentina as soon as we can and head north and end back in Ecuador or Columbia in June or July.

And well, that is what we’re going to do.

We boarded a bus today at 6:20am and almost 30hrs later we will land in El Calafate, Argentina – The destination was chosen based on several factors – most notably the access to one of the world’s most incredible natural wonders: the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Here is what our travel schedule looks like for the next day or so…

6:20am – board bus in Cuenca, 4hr to Guayaquil bus station and cab to airport
1:40pm – flight from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Quito, Ecuador (50min + 3hr layover)
6:32pm – flight from Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru (BUSINESS CLASS!) (2.5hr + 1hr layover)
10:09pm – flight from Lima, Peru to Beunos Aires, Argentina (BUSINESS CLASS) (6hr flight + 3hr layover)
7:45am – flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina to El Calafate, Argentina (2.5hr)
11:20am – land in El Calafate, Argentina

That is 1 bus, 1 cab, 4 flights (2 domestic, 2 international) & 7hr of layovers to get from Cuenca, Ecuador to El Calafate, Argentina in 29hrs!

This happened quickly. We popped into a few travel agencies here in Cuenca to see what kind of options they had to get down to Buenos Aires. They didn’t have much, and it was really expensive. To book a flight in less than a week we were looking at about $900 a person. And then we still had to get to El Calafate. We ended booking on Priceline.com which was about 30% cheaper than booking through the airlines directly and somehow, someway we were put on business class. Hola!!

We do not have any lodging in El Calafate, we will figure that out when we get there. Our tentative schedule is now…

  • El Calafate, Argentina – 3-4 days
  • Bariloche, Argentina – 2-4 days (this place looks so awesome)
  • Santiago, Chile – 3-4 days
  • Mendoza, Argentina – 2-3 days
  • Rosario, Argentina – 1 day
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina – 4-7 days
  • Montevideo, Uraguay – 2-3 days
  • Iguazu, Argentina – 2-3 days
  • Salta, Argentina – 2-3 days
  • Atacoma Desert, Chile – 2-5 days

Then into Bolivia at the end of April. There were be a handful of travel days between these cities as we will be covering ground by bus to help save some cash.

Change of Jeff

Per Lindsay this was way over due. Young Jeffy is back. We made a short video/documentary that takes a hard look into the strain #datbeard was putting on our relationship.

7 thoughts on “Change of Plans, Change of Jeff

  1. Pingback: 7 Perfect Days in Cartagena - Jeff & Lindsay's Travel Blog

    1. Jeff Post author

      Ha, yea -love the go pro! we’re working on our editing skills…but man that was fun to make. Hard not to laugh at some points. I hope all is going well back in Chicago. Ecuador was awesome. Looking forward to Argentina now.

    1. Jeff Post author

      Hahaha ! – we had fun making that one. Lindsay had been harassing me for about 2 weeks now. Finally had to do it. #startingover

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