I strongly dislike MIA (and Quito is pretty cool)

Trip Start Jul 12, 2006
Trip End Aug 23, 2006

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, July 13, 2006

So here I am in Quito, Ecuador after an extremely long >24 hours of travel. I was scheduled for a 2.5 hour layover in Miami, but our 5:02 PM departure time came and went, without much of an explanation offered. Finally the news trickled through the waiting passengers (about 200, plus some from another flight to Quito scheduled for a 7 PM takeoff) that the ash from an agitated volcano in Columbia was spewing down south toward Quito. The flight was cancelled and moved to 6 AM today. So I spend the night in the airport (they donīt pay for hotel rooms in the case of a natural disaster). It wasnīt so bad except that 1) it turned into a no-manīs land around 11; and 2) EVERY 15 minutes, the PA system would sound off this abrasive chime and a woman would say, ĻThe current local time is 12:45 AM.Ļ Needless to say, this woke me up every 15 minutes--when I was lucky enough to have dozed off on the floor. In hindsight, the camping pillow that the Thiels gave me would have been a good thing to bring along. Oh well.

The flight to Quito left on time this morning and customs was a breeze--which was unexpected. I caught a cab to my hostel, which has a nice open roof and really friendly people. I just walked around the area near the hostel (Old Town Quito) and made a couple of friends in a small restaurant a few blocks away.

Iīm going to try to hike Pichincha Guagua with some of them in the next couple of days to acclimatize and get ready for climbing Cotopaxi next week. I havenīt had a chance to take any pictures yet but will do so soon. Thanks to those of you who sent emails, Iīll try to respond in the next few days.

To close, I have a few disjointed observations:
-for some reason I was hesitant to speak Spanish until I had to. I heard more Spanish that English spoken in Miami and the words were on the tip of my tongue, but I couldnīt get them out. Oh well, Iīve been forced to speak in Spanish a few times now and itīs working out pretty well.
-the people here are really friendly. Americans obviously stand out here--especially a 6ī3Ļ guy with a slightly red beard--and everyone was extremely nice and talkative when I went into the little restaurant, not to mention surprised when I spoke Spanish.
-everything I read about the altitude in Quito is right--Iīve been getting winded walking up a set of stairs. Hopefully I get that taken care of pronto.

Alright, Iīm off to take a nap before dinner. I know that is probably not the best thing to do while visiting an exciting foreign city, but I am a zombie from the Miami time updates. Adios.
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