Getting high in Quito

Trip Start Feb 26, 2010
Trip End Feb 26, 2011

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Where I stayed
Backpackers Inn

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Friday, January 21, 2011

The alarm went off at 3am and we were downstairs by ten past with no sign of anyone about. Raul had told us that Victor's dad would be on hand to step in to the street at that time (obviously we weren’t allowed to do this ourselves) and get us a taxi from somewhere – but the place was deserted.  We weren’t sure what to do and after the last fiasco at Lima airport were we nearly missed our flight we didn’t want to risk being even slightly late.  We knocked on a few doors but nothing then from somewhere (in fact it was in a little booth that was completely in darkness and locked up) Andrew heard the faintest of snores.  I knocked on the door more loudly than I had before and roused a very dishevelled old man from his sleep – poor guy.  He disappeared outside (were we ever going to see him again) then returned about ten minutes later with a taxi – the driver was caged in – a bit of a clue as to the customers he gets maybe.

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 got to the hostel which was on a lovely little street and checked in but found that as it was so early (9am) our room wouldn’t be ready until 12 so we left our bags in the safe store and after discovering the 1 for 1 book exchange (at last) we swapped 4 of our huge novels for including others the Ecuador and Galapagos Lonely Planet – that was a good swap.  We even managed to get one for Mexico where we fly home from so all in all it was worth the wait to get rid of the books we have been carrying since Bali.  On the way out of the door the woman on reception warned us about pickpockets and muggings which are apparently very common in this part of town – oh well another dangerous place to explore then.

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.  Our first impressions is that this place is even cheaper than Bolivia there are tat shops selling cheap hair accessories and ornaments everywhere and we had a delicious lunch for about 3 pounds for both of us.  Andrew had a traditional Ecuadorian meal off the daily special board (sausage, egg and potatoes with beetroot and avocado) and I had strawberries and cream – typical.  It was lovely though and even though Andrew is not that in to sweet things he had a fair few spoonfuls. 

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.  This area is known to the locals as ‘Gringolandia’ and locals apparently come here to hunt foreigners (Andrew Edit – It is affectionately known as Gringo hunting).  We stopped at a bar on the square which had a cheap two for one offer on so had some drinks and then had a meal (Andrew Edit - mmm Some drinks, that would be two Mojito’s, two, Strawberry Daquaris, 2 Caprinhas and about 6 beers, to be frank I was drunk but little miss I love the altitude and have no effects was sober as a judge).  Andrew had a plate of goat and rice which was very nice and I had a burger as it was the cheapest thing on the menu. The later it got the busier it became and when we left the place was absolutely heaving with a mix of tourists and locals.  The drinks prices were criminally cheap too in some of the cheaper bars – I guess that’s why the pavements were covered in vomit and broken glass – and that was at 6pm!

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!!).
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natalie1983 on

Glad your both having a good time, cant wait to see you both when you come home! x

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