Friday, January 18, 2013

Quito with a View

We've arrived in Quito, Ecuador! Yay! We haven't been here 24 hours yet, but so far, everything has been super easy and wonderful.. Our flights were on time last night (and included movies and food!), landing us in Quito just after 11pm. The Ecuadorian Immigration Officer welcomed us here (actually said "welcome"), there was a sign with our names on it held by our hotel's taxi and we were promptly delivered and showed to our cute private room decorated with pictures of the Galapagos. Its probably almost 30 degrees Celsius here today and when we woke up this morning the thunderstorms forecasted turned out to be gorgeous blue skies and fluffy white clouds. We stumbled out of bed early this morning, not wanting to waste any time on our first day in South America. We climbed up to the third (and top) floor open terrace of our hostel (at 2728m!) in the Old Town and I literally lost my breath. The view from up here on the terrace, where we are again hanging out now, writing this, is simply spectacular. Seriously. Top 2 on my "World's Best Terraces" list. Ok, so the list doesn't actually exist, but it should, and today I just may be inspired to create it. Back to the view. We're hemmed in by mountains (the green kind) on all sides. In front of us sprawls the colourful old colonial section of town, complete with narrow cobbled streets, wrought iron balconies and gleaming white ornate trim. To the right a massive Gothic cathedral (actually its a Basilica) rises up above the coloured facades and to the left a hill, topped by a huge angel statue. Pastel painted houses cling to the valley walls, perched precariously on the steep green hillside. The most perfect breeze is keeping us just cool enough as we sit here and try to grasp the reality of actually being here.
Our taxi was halfway to the hotel last night before I realized that I wasnt even paying attention to the city streets we were passing through. Granted, it was late and there was not a single person on the streets. But as I looked around at the graffitied shops, spanish signs, and.. it all just felt 'normal', whatever that means. I was actually a little bit disappointed that I didnt feel that awe or culture shock that we experienced that first night we flew into Bali all those months ago. So far, everything, no matter how different it is from home, is kind of familiar to us. The fact that red lights are merely a suggestion to drivers. Scanning the sidewalk for a group of people to join with in a street crossing venture- to lessen the chance of getting smoked. Still almost happened though. The city bus playing an electronic-midi version of 'Rudolf the Rednose Reindeer' as its "watch out Im coming through" music. All quirky things that were normalized for us while travelling in Asia and that still make us smile today. Not to say that South America
feels like Asia, there are just a few entertaining similarities we've noticed.
Completely different than Asia are the hidden, although not terribly far from the surface, security issues. It seems as though every other person on the street is a policeman, traffic cop or army person. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't feel dangerous- at all (mothers), its just that the presence of law enforcement is obvious. That being said, we were hassled (in the vaguely annoying tout-tourist manner) FAR more in any given Asian town than we were out walking in Quito today. Speaking of, though, this morning, after breakfast we were asking the hotelier about the city and he told us to absolutely not try to walk up to the hill with the angel on it. He suggested we take a taxi, because of so many pick-pocket stories on the way up. Its the first time we've been anywhere and told specifically not to go a certain place because of danger/robbery. He also told us to never wear backpacks on our back (front only) and keep my purse at the front too. "If someone throws liquid poo at you, don't let them help clean you up. They are trying too distract you so that thay can rob you." He tells us. "Liquid what?" The German girl beside us clarifies. "Liquid poo," he confirms. "Liquid poo?" she asks in disbelief. "Yes, dont get distracted by the liquid poo." He helpfully confirms again. Oh boy.
With that wisdom in our back pocket we headed out on the town. Happily, we managed all the way through our first whole day in South America sans poo of any variety. Although there were some pigeons in the main square that did try their darndest to sabotage our poo-free day.
Quito is a city of 1.8 million people. Its 51km long by 8km (ish) long! There is a new town and old town, lush parks, delicious smelling restaurants, and lots of smiling faces. In other news, J has been testing out his Spanish skills and it has been met with nothing but smiling Ecuadorians with lots of patience. I got a sunburn in my first 4hours and there are a LOT of Canadians here. Tomorrow we are headed to Cotopaxi National Park for some hiking and biking and chillaxing.
Where we stayed in Quito: Secret Garden Quito, Old town. Double room with shared bathroom $33.60 (incl tax). Really great.
We know it has been a bit troublesome in the past for some of you, but we are putting some more photos in our Photostream to the right. Hope you enjoy them!


Mom and Dad Mooney said...

Good to see the blog started up again now that you're "On The Road Again".
We will be following along from the comfort of home.
Stay safe and "P.." free.
Que tenga un buen dia.
Luv Mom & Dad Mooney

Gina said...

Sounds nice! (Except for the poo part.) Looking forward to following you on another trip :)

Parentals said...

Excited to read your blog but no luck today with the pics through 'photostream'. Need techie help I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hey you guys!
Great to get an update :)!
Hope you are having tons of fun.
I am hopeful that your last experience with poo being thrown in your general direction (ok by monkeys not thieves) was/is your last experience like that :P!!!
Take care safe & see you soon!
Love you guys!

Yogi said...

Hey J&C .
Keep up the updates! Love it!
I've had a fondness for Ecuador for some time now and reading/researching, but there is nothing like a first hand account/experience.

Looking forward to the pics.

Yogi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hey there ... it's good to be following your travels again.Certainly sounds and looks great.Enjoy!
A Eileen & U Trevor

Anonymous said...

Love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing with us.