Run the equator: Quito

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Quito by night
Night view of Quito
Click on picture to see slide-show.

We've been in Quito for almost 5 days and I can say that this city definitely has its unique charm. The colonial architecture and the countless churches of the old town, the vibrant atmosphere of the new town mix with a bit of Latin-American style which makes the whole look like it's sort of a shanty town and result in a very convincing urban scenery. The city is like a long ribbon spread over many hills along a central valley; much of it consists of more or less run-down suburbs which quickly start to look all alike and do not provide much excitement for the tourist, but there's enough that can keep you busy for a few days of sightseeing. To this picture, add the people going about their colorful business of selling and buying all kinds of wares and foods alien to the western traveller's eye and you'll get more than enough to keep you coming back to the streets each day.

Angela and I had a pretty busy schedule - we explored the town, we saw the churches and a couple of museums, and we climbed Guagua Pichincha, the volcano that towers above the town (in the "teleferico", mind you, not walking, and it was cloudy - no view, no photos.) We saw the botanical garden and the reptile vivarium and we went to "Mittad Del Mundo" - a cheesy and pathetic visitor's park an hour north of Quito placed smack on the equator, for the benefit of the silly tourists who want to have photos of themselves with a foot in each hemisphere.

Pig head
Bon appetit!
Click on picture to see slide-show.

Today we went to Otavalo, a town a few hours north of Quito where each Saturday a most famous textile market takes place (and a food market, and an animal market, and a you-name-it market, but the textiles are what put the town on the map.) Angela went crazy with the alpaca-wool products and as a result we are now blessed with a full bag of soft things that will have to find their way home somehow. Given the limited space in the backpacks, there may be a need for another visit to the post office soon...

We have realized that out hostel is situated right in the "hang-out" neighborhood - as a matter of fact, I'm at an I-cafe now and lots of people are just standing on the sidewalk outside... to see and be seen seems to be the goal (even if the night is quite chilly.) We've been cruising the streets looking at people buy haven't been into and bar or disco. Not much socializing has happened either - as a matter of fact we (or at least I) have been keener on talking to strangers in remote places with few people; as soon as we got into this real town I started feeling the loneliness of large numbers. Since my Spanish is not yet up to the level of casual conversation and the last people I want to talk to are other American tourists, I guess socializing will have to wait until we reach Cuenca where we will be taking Spanish classes and living with a local family.

Tomorrow we'll be flying to the Galapagos islands, so there will be no more posts for about a week. No internet on a sail boat... what an outrage!


Anonymous said...

Muy Bueno! You two sound like you guys are having an awesome experience. Tell Angela hello for me! Galapagos Islands already? I bet it's beautiful there. Can't wait to hear about it and see the pictures.

Hasta lluego muchachos!

Tu amiga, Michelle

Anonymous said...

How is the air there, strong? :-)

Big Fat Rat said...

Kinda' hard to breathe sometimes, but you get used quickly...