Getting high in Quito
Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
371Trip End Feb 26, 2011
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Where I stayed
At the airport I was still a little concerned that I wouldn’t be allowed on the flight as the ticket was still in the wrong name despite our best efforts to sort it out again apparently as I had already flown on 2 flights on the ticket they couldn’t change it so I just had to cross my fingers and hope that nobody would compare the passport to the boarding card. We went straight through after Andrew enquired if the airport tax was already paid – unlike last time – the girl was a bit confused but said yes so again we avoiding the tax desk and just went through. Nobody batted an eye-lid so I was on my way to Quito, Ecuador and our 23rd country of the trip. I spent most of the flight writing the blog and sat next to a man with the worst halitosis that I have ever experienced – it was noxious. The amazing views of the volcanoes and in particularly Cotopaxi from the plane window managed to distract me a little from it. We took a taxi from the airport from one of the taxi stands as we came through from baggage the book said 5 Dollars and she wanted 6 so we weren’t going to haggle as the book is about 4 years old.
Quito was covered in a thick blanket of cloud when we arrived and though it is the second highest capital city in the world after La Paz we were feeling okay and any altitude symptoms were being kept at bay
We took a taxi in to the Old Town which was about 10 minutes in a taxi from where we were staying in the New Town. As we drove by we noticed that just up from our hostel was a huge square full of bars and hostels – the place was busy with people milling around and the area seemed really lively – maybe one to investigate later. We arrived in the Old Town and the roads immediately got much narrower and the buildings were beautiful old colonial style and the main plaza was simply stunning. There was some kind of display going on, soldiers with long wooden poles with spikes on the end marching around and there were so many on lookers crowding in that we were immediately on pocket watch. I had some money in my bra, some in the bag under my arm (under my jacket) and Andrew had the money belt under his trousers but as these are now falling down on him revealing not just the money belt at times but a significant part of his genitalia I think perhaps the money is better with me. We ended up in a shop buying a fake wallet – one that we could put a few small notes in and a bit of change to give to a would be mugger if the worst happened – for 80 cents we got a rather good wallet with an embroidered picture of Che Guevara on
After we had seen a lot of the sights of the Old Town, largely churches, plazas and monasteries we decided to head on up to the telerifico the cable car that takes you 2.5km up Volcan Pichincha (or as I like to call it pinch an incha) to Cruz Loma at 4100m with great views of Quito and on a clear day the volcanoes that surround it. It was a bit cloudy but as we were trying to make the most of the day we decided to go anyway and took a taxi up to the cable car departure point. Andrew had already started to get heart palpitations – was that fear or just altitude? You know how much he loves a good cable car ride especially up to those heights! The complex also has a amusement park and other stuff but to be honest a lot of it looked a bit derelict. Maybe that was just because it was a weekday but still a lot of the buildings were empty and it seemed like whoever had created the place had overestimated its popularity or maybe it was busy at first and now not so much? Still it is apparently one of the main things to do in Quito itself so here we were
At the top we had an amazing view of the city but the volcanoes predictably were covered in cloud – however we had got a good view from the plane this morning so all was not lost. We didn’t hang around too long at the top as there wasn’t much else to do apart from drink overpriced drinks and admire the view. On the way down an American girl got in our gondola (is that what it’s called?) and we got chatting she was about to go and climb Cotopaxi – a startling 5900m tall and the closest point on Earth to the sun (its proximity to the equator where the Earth 'bulges’ together with its height make it so) – we would have attempted it too if we had had the time but you have to acclimatise for ages before you can do it – honestly we would – for sure, hmmm.
We got a minibus from the bottom of the teleferico back to the hostel and dropped Nicole off at the botanical gardens – as we’ve seen loads of botanical gardens on this trip we decided to give is a miss but they have got a vivarium full of reptiles which almost convinced me. Back at the hostel we had a sleep for an hour, we had been up since 3am, and then went for a walk up to the square in Mariscal Sucre to have a drink and get something to eat
We went back to the hostel and watched the film Black Swan which was very dark while we had a beer from downstairs, I think there was a party going on or something judging from the noise but we really couldn’t afford to get involved, physically and financially – we simply couldn’t afford to miss our flight in the morning. We managed to get a bit of sleep, Andrew more so than me, which is strange as it’s usually the other way around. The location was great and especially if you like to party but one word of advice, if you can’t join them – bring some earplugs! (Andrew Edit – Also bring some weapons It gets pretty tasty in this part of town at night, a swiss army knife will get you nowhere!!).