Ecuador was a bucket list destination — for my wife to see the Galapagos in all their glory, and for me to see Mount Chimborazo in the high Andes, the furthest point from the center of the earth, closer to the stars even than Mount Everest. Chimborazo stands 6,384,404 meters from the Earth’s center, beating out Mt. Everest by 2,734 meters (8,970 feet), thanks to the equatorial bulge. While in the Galapagos, we stayed on San Cristobal and Santa Cruz islands, and then traveled around to many other islands on a small ship. We swam with marine iguanas, played with curious sea lions, followed 150-year-old giant tortoises, and saw equatorial penguins — distant cousins to the penguins we saw last January in Antarctica. In the Central Cordillera of the Andes, we saw Volcan Cotopaxi erupting, drove down the Avenue of the Volcanoes to Chimborazo, experienced the “Swing at the End of the World” in Baños, and visited one of the most famous public markets in South America at Otavalo. I almost bought a hand-made requinto — a small classical guitar tuned a fourth higher than a regular guitar — but unfortunately they couldn’t provide a case before I had fly back to New York :-(  Maybe next time!

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