We had our passports stamped and got in a cab to take us to Tulcán, the closest bus station to the border. When reading about the boarder crossing, and Ecuador in general, there is a lot of advice about cabbies trying to take advantage and the general consensus is that you should force the cabbie to use the meter. I tried, and failed, so we negotiated a price that I thought was totally reasonable anyway. He took us to Tulcán, we got on a bus to Quito… Easy!
We’d booked a nice little room in a hotel called Margherita 2 so asked the cabbie to drop us off there. After arriving at Margherita 1 we were swiftly pointed in the direction of Margherita 2, we walked over to Margherita 2.
We got settled in and went to the roof to admire the view (one of us may have smoked too). It was pretty sweet.
It’s been pointed out to us by various sisters that we’re “not exactly slumming it” but… Shut up sisters…
Next day we did the only thing you can do when arriving in a new city… Free (for tips) walking tour! We learnt a bit about why Ecuador use the US dollar, a bit about their political history and some information about why most Ecuadorian politicians are “estúpido”. It was a decent tour, not amazing, but we did get to buy some 100% cacao chocolate (it was gross). The rest of the day was just spent on the phone really, family are an inconvenient bind. Oh and we tried to work out if the water swirls in a different direction around the plug hole in the southern hemisphere… I don’t think it does.
Next day we got a cable car up a mountain, standard.
Pichincha I believe, we arrived at 3,945m above sea level and had a little walk around. It is noticeably a bit harder to breath, which is kinda cool in a way, so everything is a bit harder but we managed to drag ourselves up a bit further for some decent views
a cool swing
And some llamas
Maybe alpacas… Dunno. I’m glad Em convinced me that we should pay 50 cents for that pic though!
It was Sunday so when we were done we asked the cabbie to drop us off at the park so we could have a little nose around. It was pretty packed with people enjoying the last day of their weekend, playing volleyball (Ecua-volley), dancing and just hanging out.
I’m a big fan of hanging out places like this, just enjoying the things people who live in Quito enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. There was (obviously) plenty of people selling food on the street and I did catch a nice looking arepa (an arepa is an admittedly not great, bland, dry, dumpling thing) out of the corner of my eye, covered in cheese and unlike one I’d see before, but decided against buying it. I regretted that decision for the rest of the day.
We went home through this park
And some homeless guy chucked a potato at Em…
Next day we revisited some of the hot spots from the walking tour as well as the Basílica del Voto Nacional cathedral.
We popped up the tower
For some views
I’ve seen better cathedrals and I’ve seen worse cathedrals, but it was worth the visit.
Emma navigated on the way back and after 10 minutes or so we were in the middle of Quito rush hour a mile or so from our hotel. Somehow just outside of town and surrounded by Ecuadorian folk on their way home from work and school, getting on buses, buying food, eating food, walking, driving etc. It was mayhem but a fun side of the country that you don’t always get to (choose to) experience as a tourist. Essentially the same as walking through Oxford Circus at 5:30 but a bit more South American. More people, and a lot more shit for sale. Want shoes? Buy them on the side of the road, baby clothes? Side of the road, toothbrush? Yup, a man standing next to a lamppost has you covered! And food, so much food! There is barley space to move but there is room to fry eggs.
From within the hustle and bustle Emma spotted an arepa like I had seen the day before. There wasn’t much to it, an arepa with a mountain of grated (admittedly crappy) South American cheese but it was kinda glorious at the same time. I bought it and interestingly this new Ecuadorian arepa was a bit soggy on the inside but maybe better than the boring ones north of the border.
We got back and I wasn’t really feeling myself so had a little lie down and after about 10 minutes or so it was time to be reintroduced to my friend the (in hindsight, so obviously undercooked) arepa. And that was my evening… Every little while for 4-6 hours the arepa would make make its was out of my body in new and exciting ways.
It had to happen at some point, people get ill when traveling, it sucks but it’s not the end of the world. We’re just lucky that it’s part of a massive trip and has not really affected our plans.
The previous night took a bit of getting over so the next day was spent in bed sleeping and watching YouTube, and using the other little room. I’ve had better days, I’d give it roughly 1/10.
Wednesday, with all the grit and determination of a person who has spent the previous day, sleeping, watching YouTube and on the toilet, I mustered the strength to get in a cab and grab a couple of tickets for the next bus to Cuscungo. Not far out of Quite but home to the world’s second largest active volcano.