Beautiful colonial Quito

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
Trip End Jan 15, 2012

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 135:

We were told in the hostal that the road to Quito is blocked due to construction of a bridge that got damaged by the volcano recently. But there is another, very scenic road up the mountains to get to Ambato. From there we could catch a bus to Quito. Problem was, the road is small and can't be used by buses. We headed to the bus terminal nevertheless. No buses but opposite loads of people waited already for cars passing by which offer a ride for a couple of dollars. We got a pick up car and squeezed into the back with 10 other people. We drove exactly 10 metres then got stopped by the police and had to get out. It is obviously not allowed – I guess for safety reasons. We got back to our spot on the roadside to wait for other cars. Kory went off to ask how much a taxi is from Banos to Ambato would be when a local businessman shouted that he has space for 3 more! He found a cardriver that would drive him to Ambato and wanted to share expenses. In the end 4 of us squeezed in the back of the car for 5 USD each, the businessman paid the bulk of 15 USD. The scenery along the small rock was breath-taking and I so regretted that I had to wash my camera in the river ;-) Soft, green hills with rocks at the bottom, rivers finding their way and the already mentioned green lushness. It was great to use this road! We got dropped off at a bus stop in Ambato 1.5 hours later where the bus to Quito was already waiting. Threw our luggage into the bus and got fried chicken and chips from the street stall next to the bus stop. We have a 2.5 hours bus journey ahead of us. In one of the next villages an ice cream vendor came on the bus, as is so common everywhere in South America. Kory explained that the village we were driving through is famous for its ice cream, so we had one each for 0.50 USD. Watery, but tasty! On one of the toll stops on the highway I noticed that the women who sit in the little cabin were wearing oxygen masks! Never seen that before in any other country! We arrived in Quito bus terminal which is a bit outside the city around 5pm. A very modern bus terminal! We took a trolley bus to the north of Quito, an area called La Mariscal which is basically the bar and hang-out area of Quito. On our way to look for a hostel we dropped our dirty clothes at a laundry – half our clothes gone and the backpack is so much lighter! We got a hostel a short while later. Just had a quick dinner - tasty shawarmaj, then headed back to the hostal.

Day 136:

Kory needed to get an identification card as his little rucksack got stolen a few days ago in a restaurant in Banos. On my way I met so many people whose stuff got stolen, it's incredible. I met an elderly British couple in Alausi that got robbed 3 times in 4 months! And basically every 3rd traveller got his camera stolen at one point in time! So we went to the Civil Registration office to get that sorted. I was impressed with the modern technology that is in place in Quito’s offices. Once this was done we started our sightseeing tour of Quito. First we went to the Plaza Grande which is surrounded by the President’s house and the Cathedral, a beautiful white-washed building. From there it was a short walk to the San Fransico Church, Quito’s oldest and most impressive church . It is under renovation right now, so we didn’t see the front side. Next to it is the San Fransisco museum which has a 2 USD entrance fee but includes a tour guide, but only in Spanish. We walked up to the chorus of the church to get a glance of the alter. The inside of the church is very impressive, gold-plated everywhere. Most of the church got destroyed by an earthquake in 17XX and was rebuilt, but some parts are still original. Next we visited the museum which houses a large collection of paintings and a replca of the church which misses a rock as our guide pointed out. The rock was stolen by a local boy during its construction. It’s only a decorative rock! We walked to Santa Domingo where a fair was on with typical food and artisans. We decided to have lunch in one of Kory’s friends, our typical almuerza – set lunch – for just 1.25 USD! The soup had chicken feet in it - as in Asia. I hate that sight! Put my spoon in the soup, stirred around and am ready for a nice warm soup when all of a sudden a chicken foot is on my spoon. Couldn’t avoid a little scream of terror! We walked around the Old Town for a little longer and up to the Basilica. It’s possible to climb the stairs up to the top of the towers and that’s just what we did! Above the roofs of Quito! The view was amazing and we were lucky with the weather as well! Kory saw a hat in the souvenir shop of the basilica and totally fell for it! It was a bit expensive though – we’ll try to find the same in Otavala, should be able to negotiate there. We walked back to the hostal and passed an artisan market. We stopped for Kory to buy some material as he is making all kind of stuff out of strings, pearls and quartz to sell. In Europe if a guy wants to go out he says "let’s go for a drink", a South American guy says “let’s go dancing tonight!” La Mariscal where we stayed is the bar area and they are basically just around the corner. We started in a bar where Kory met another friend – and danced all the time while we were in the bar. Next was a bar where Kory formerly used to sing – again dancing non stop and Kory’s friend came over with some more friends. After lots of drinks and dancing we were heading back to the hostal when we passed a bar where Hawaiin Night was going on, so we walked in and danced and drank some more. Latinos everywhere, movements everywhere! Though I dance quite well, Kory did remind me that I’m not a Latina by telling me I have to dance “con amor” (with love) - that's how Latino teaches you how to dance....just move con amor! The atmosphere in all these bars is so different to Austria or Asia, everyone is dancing, and dancing with so much passion! We finally got back to the hostel at 4am.
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