¿Did someone say Quito?

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
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Trip End Feb 01, 2005


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Where I stayed

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Saturday, May 29, 2004

I think that it is something to do with Quito being so close to the Equator that is drawing me back here like a magnet. I donīt want to leave. Iīm weary after 4 months travelling, I want to hang out somewhere for a bit, and I love Quito!!!

The reason
Iīm sure that there is a very good reason for returning to Quito, apart from wanting to get tickets to a Miss Universe presentation, and I believe that good reason was to break the kissing drought.

It had been over a month, and in Brazil to be precise, that I had my last kiss, so it was necessary to improve my form. Arriving back in Quito, I called Andy to cash in the promise of salsa lessons. I ended up hanging out with him and his friends, but no salsa. The next night we hung out again, drinking in the streets because they had no money, and I was practising all my best Spanish. I ended up going home with a kiss (let it remain a mystery as to who!!) which was great and worthy of the latino reputation.

Dorm 16 - Posada del Maple
I took the recommendation of a friend and stayed at Posada del Maple, and what excellent advice it was. A shade over $6 per night, massive breakfast included and the funnest dorm ever. When I arrived in my room, the 6 other people were having a conversation, which I joined in and ended up going out to dinner with some of them. The next night we all had dinner together, and then went for a drink, with 5 of us arranging to go to the Otavalo Market.

Saturday dawned, and Emily, Amy, Ian, Jon and I squeezed into a taxi for the bus station. The taxi driver saw the bus to Otavalo and chased after it, pulled in front of it and waved it down for us, so we quickly jumped out of the cab and onto the moving bus thinking how lucky we were.

A woman sat beside me and proceeded to breastfeed her baby for the whole 2 hours we spent on the bus. She just kept changing sides, and it wasnīt even as if the baby was grizzling. Then a movie came on, Amores Perros. I had seen half back home and got into it, especially since I could understand more of the Spanish without having to read the subtitles. All 5 of us were engrossed in the movie and failed to realise that we had passed Otavalo until the conductor came and demanded more money for a longer distance. The bus stopped to let us off at the top of the hill and we started walking down towards the town when another bus came along and we got on and paid 18 cents to get to Otavalo.

We were all in a shopping mood, and we wandered around the market, checking out the merchandise and deciding what we were going to buy. Big groups shopping together always seem to split up, but we were all happy to take our time and everyone was very patient. Big points to Ian and Jon who, despite being male, turned out to be great shoppers - nothing like the boys I know back home who would have to disappear for a drink after one craft stand.

By the end of the day we had a big stripey bag full of goodies (most belonging to Amy who was going home in the next couple of days). We had bought wall hangings (I got two and could definitely purchase more), bags, jewellry, paintings, rugs, bowls, maracas and scarves. It was a long, but fantastic day, shared with my buddies from Dorm 16.

Miss Universe
I thought I should make an attempt to see Miss Universe and cheer on Miss Universe Australia so I went to the shopping centre where I could comprar a ticket. After the marathon walk to the shopping centre (it didnīt look that far on the map) which included a couple of extra blocks since the major major street wasnīt signposted, I vowed to take a bus back.

I spent awhile wandering around the centre trying to locate the Diners Club office. On my way, I noticed that Troy was screening at the cinema in 30 minutes. I found the Diners Club office, complete with decent sized lines that were for specific events which wasnīt understandable to my ear, and very slow and argusome lines at that. So I decided that Troy would be much more interesting than getting to the front of a queue only to find I was in the wrong line.

After Troy I went back and lo and behold, I was redirected to a line upstairs which was massive and to make things even better, there were no sales assistants at the front of it. Not feeling patient I left the rich, excited Ecuadorians to it and thought about coming back another day.

That day never eventuated. It fell into the īcanīt be bothered` category, and when I had a hot date on offer for the night I wanted to go Miss Universe, I thought to myself "Camille, what do you really want, a good old pash to make yourself feel good, or do you want to watch skinny things parading about in bikinis looking gorgeous to make yourself feel self conscious". Hence Miss Universe was no competition for my hot date.

I also managed to miss the parade of all the Miss Universes on the Sunday morning as Amy and I were chasing her plane ticket and going to the market. However, with about a zillion people packed into the narrow streets of the Centro Historico (and at such an early hour) I wasnīt too sad.

More sights
I had made a list, yes even while away I have to make lists, of all the things I had to see before leaving Quito. So I went to La Compaņia, the church built by the Jesuits in the mid 1600īs that has 7 tonnes of 23 carat gold leafing and to San Francisco Monastery which they commenced building within a week after founding Quito around 1525. I also went to the Vivarium, which is full of snakes and other reptiles. It would make a good stop before heading to the jungle, so that you know what the venomous snakes look like (aside from the ones in the localsī trousers). I also decided that when I go home I want to have a pet iguana.

I wanted to see the Panecillo, the big Virgin Statue which is apparently the second most visited monument after Christo Redentor in Rio, but it didnīt happen. I wanted to go to the Instituto Geografico Militar, but that didnīt happen either. I also wanted to change the dates of my flights, but that can wait until Lima. Iīve just had too much fun hanging out.

So now Iīm heading to Baņos (again) with Emily from Dorm 16 and then onto Cuenca. Itīs going to be nice to travel with someone for a little bit again.

Things I Learned
* I now find myself unconsciously walking on the right hand side of the footpath. It actually took awhile for it to dawn on me that I had changed from my Australian way and that I wasnīt having face offs in the street.
* Bus drivers in Ecuador all eat. They stop at small random places so the conductor can get off and purchase a feed for them both. Invariably, the bus driver always gets impatient when the transaction takes longer than 20 seconds.
* I canīt get my visa extended until it runs out, so much for being prepared, but I can get up to 180 days as a tourist, it may come in handy, just in case I am drawn back to Quito...
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