We’re glad we packed:
1. Headlamps. We’re using Petzl headlamps and highly recommend them. They rock for: kids reading in bed at night, compensating for the lack of outdoor lighting at a rental house and taking a nighttime run on the beach – for a few unusual uses.
2. A small flexible extension cord. Ours is a cheapie one from our local drug store (although REI does stock a pricey “travel extension cord” from Swiss Army). With one socket converter, we can charge three devices making it easy to keep Kindles, Nintendos, the netbook and the camera charged most of the time.
3. Waist wallets.
4. Long underwear. The Andes in the Spring are warm and sunny during the day but sweet heavens it’s freezing at night!
5. A handful of dried cherries and pineapple scores a winning smile from an Andean toddler.
1. Don’t take directions using public transport without asking for the bus, tram or train number -and be suspicious if the person giving directions puts an arrow pointing off the map to the intended destination. Our taxi-ride from central Quito to the bus station to catch a bus to Cotopaxi took long enough that even Cillan was starting to get suspicious that we may be in danger.
2. Always carry an empty plastic bag. Why? See here.
3. Washing clothes by hand is hard work! (Murph may disagree, but maybe that’s because I’m more particular when I do the washing).
4. In Ecuador buying bus tickets at the station is more expensive than buying them on the bus. We’re only talking about a few dollars difference, but when you’re keeping a tight budget it’s worth keeping in mind.
How the kids are doing:
1. They don’t seem to be bothered by the abrupt change from Starbucks-on-every-corner Seattle to being stinky backpackers in impoverished Central Ecuador. They still rate free wifi in accommodation a critical necessity.
2. So long as they have a seat on the bus, hopping on and off the busy buses plying the Panamerica Sur and coastal Ecuador has become as normal as walking to our local grocery store.
3. We’re going to have toileting issues. At least one of our children is only comfortable using a clean, western-style toilet with a seat. We’re already joking that by the time we get to Western China the standards in Ecuador will seem regal in comparison.
4. We’re planning to follow the Seattle Public School 2010/2011 calendar. School started on Wednesday 9/8. So far, so good.
5. The kids have started blogging at TravelingPikmin.com. Officially, this is school-work (the writing component), but I’m finding it’s fun to read what they have to say about the trip.