Center of the World
Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
93Trip End May 18, 2011
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Overall, Logan and I liked Quito. It´s a city with good public
transportation set in a narrow, north-south valley, which makes it seem
a lot smaller than it actually is. It´s cooler, since it´s up in the mountains, but when the sun comes out, it´s t-shirt weather with really strong sun.
After our trip to Ibarra and Otavalo, we headed to Quito, and got there at the tail end of the celebrations for the city. There were live bands in all of the bars and restaurants in the ¨Gringolandia¨ part of town, Mariscal, and tons of party buses passing by until the wee hours of the morning. On a Sunday.
When we got into the terminal, we tried to reach our couchsurfing host for the week, but to no avail. The next plan was to call up a bunch of hostels to see who had some space. We stayed the first night in a place called El Cafecito, which was in the hip part of town with all the tourists. We walked down the street and, of course, found a shawarma place to eat at, but it just wasn´t as good as the first place in Ibarra. And it cost more - lame. We walked around the rowdy streets that night just to people watch, then headed back to our hostel. I was only woken up a few times that night by party buses stopped near our hostel playing Black Eyed Peas´ ¨Tonight´s Gonna Be a Good Night¨ - a very popular song everywhere in Latin America, but fortunately I haven´t heard it for a while now.
We spent our first whole day in Quito in search of a clubhouse for climbers, but when we arrived at the address, we were told it wasn´t in existence anymore. Well, poo. We then went down the hill to the climbing gym, which was the first time we´d experienced an outdoor climbing gym. And coming from a city that rains everyday in the winter, it was interesting to me that it was even outdoors. But to their defense, they did have some small overhanging roofing material over the walls which may have been effective in the rain, as long as it was coming straight down
The next day, Logan´s birthday, we went climbing in a place called Cuyuja. I´ll write about that in a separate entry, as we did a lot of side-trips from Quito.
On Wednesday, we didn´t do much of anything. I got a chance to update this blog (a constant battle for me), and at night, we went to see the movie ¨Red Social¨, or ¨Social Network¨ in English. What a great movie! Logan and I were stupified, though, because the movie was in English with Spanish subtitles (and Mark Zuckerburg´s character talked so damn fast!), and yet almost everybody in the theater was chattering throughout the entire movie! We were later told by an Ecuadorian that a lot of people go to the movies to make out and go on dates to talk. I don´t know how much of that is true (Logan and this guy had a two hour long conversation on the matter), but it is possibly true that they weren´t all there to enjoy the movie on the big screen, which was slightly frustrating. Fortunately, though, it didn´t take away from our movie-watching experience and we were able to come out of the theater with an appreciation and slight hatred for Mr. Zuckerburg for his ingenuity and attitude, respectively.
The following day, we took a day trip back up to Otavalo to meet up with Juan, our buddy from couchsurfing to go rock climbing. This will also be covered in a separate entry...
On Friday, I dragged Logan along with me to go to the ¨Mitad del Mundo¨ just north of Quito to appreciate being right at zero degrees latitude. Well, apparently, when they measured where the equator was originally and built a monument there, they didn´t quite get it right. With GPS technology nowadays, we learned that zero degrees was actually, depending on who you talked to, 300 km to the north, or up on a mountain 30 minutes away. Well, poop. I did know about the GPS ¨true¨ equator, but didn´t realize that it´s not within the walls of the Disneyland-like theme park without rides that is ¨Mitad del Mundo¨, which we paid $2 each to get into. That was pretty frustrating, but on the bright side, we did go to a place outside of Quito that we otherwise would never have seen. And we made the best of it and took the regular tourist photos on the ¨equator¨.
After that, we met up with a friend of Logan´s friend to get some coffee (Caileen´s friend Heather), which was a great experience. We met at a coffee shop recently purchased by a group of people from Tena, Ecuador, which is out near the jungle/amazon. They have a chocolate plantation in Tena and sell very rich, dark chocolate at the coffee shop, which the guy there was nice enough to give us a bar each for free! He taught us a bit of Quichua (which we´ve forgotten by now) and told us that a group of Japanese businessmen had recently set up a contract with them to sell their chocolate in Japan
Later that afternoon, we met back up with our boat buddy, Ben and got some dinner in the Mariscal neighborhood of Quito. Logan and I ordered pastas, and Ben ordered a roast beef sandwich. Logan´s food was great, while my pasta and Ben´s roast beef were not cooked all the way. We never do this, and felt like horrible, demanding Americans, but we asked them to take our food back and cook it a little more. Ben´s came back fine, but they had just stuck mine in the microwave for a few minutes, making the noodles even more crunchy/chewy and even grosser. We had the waiter try my food and asked him if he thought it was okay, to which he replied that it wasn´t (por supuesto), and offered to give me something else on the menu. I agreed, and ended up eating a so-so pizza for the price of my pasta. Not the best dining experience, but I can´t complain too much. Ecuador is still working on catering to tourists, and in some places, however nice they may appear on the outside, still have some more work to do in understanding just what tourists want.