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Quito Travel Blog

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What an interesting day so far!

Today we left our hotel in miami at 5am and caught a flight to Quito, Ecuador. Happily we went via one of my favourite countries in the world - Costa Rica. It was only a stopover but I felt very nostalgic looking at the lush mountains and rolling hills.

apart from having to endure 3 american men talk about their respective 'lays' in New York where the girls are all really easy apparently it was a pretty uneventful and smooth flight. We flew over Quito and it just looked AMAZING - it's one of the highest cities in the world and it sits between all these massive Andian mountains - just awesome.

Upon arriving in Quito I got all the english money changed into dollars. I couldn't face getting it changed in Miami largely because our buds in the US are living in denial about the true state of their economy - in Europe it's virtually $2 to the £ and the jokers in Miami where only offering $1.73!!

Anyway, the rate in Quito airport was $1.86. Not great but pretty acceptable. I handed my cash over and got the dollars in exchange rapid fire and he was onto the next customer. I had a gut feel to count them so I did- $20 short! So I gave them back to the guy to count and he quickly gave me another 20 bucks.

Feeling pretty chuffed with myself we got into the taxi to the hostel where we were staying. Mid journey I was checking the receipt and noticed that he'd only given me a rate of $1.50!!! aarrrggg. I was so busy getting my extra I didn't notice he'd short changed me by another $105!!!!

Now here is a classic Ian and Lou situation: I was livid and truly gutted. Lou rolled her eyes and said "it's only money" and gave me that knowing look that acknowledges that I will be wound up about this for days! I decided that this time i wasn't going to get all upset like normal and ruin everything but rather, calmly call the airport when we got to the hostel and try and get it sorted....

A few minutes later we were out our hostel - what a coooool place. Really relaxed vibe, international travellers all chilling out. loved it the moment we entered. We climbed the (many) stairs to our room and dropped the bags off... well, I did it twice as Lou, once again, has packed a bag she can't lift! grrrr. Anyway, we made and it I pretty much needed oxygen by the time I'd done the 2nd trip - the air is very thin in Quito!

We went up to the roof terrace and took in the awesome view right across the old town to the mountains behind - simply breath-taking. We chatted with some folks - one had been mugged by 5 people, at only 7pm on his first day in Quito in the tourist district! - he had had all his stuff stolen inc his passport and had been stuck there for the last 5 days - mad one! it was in the same place that the Lonely Planet had warned us about so we decided we'd just stick to the old town that was deemed safe, had a beer and then I called the airport:

me: "hola, hablar, inglese?"

official: "no, espaniol!"

me: "ah, gracias...um..." click

hmmm, what to do next. I asked a couple of the crew that worked here and they said the best bet was to go back to the airport.

I pretty much guessed that would be the case, so we had a pray that God would bless this situation, Lou went to sleep and I went out and found a cab to take me back to the airport I'd just come from....

I walked down the hill into a main thoroughfare and got into the first cab. The cabbie was an old guy and an absolute legend who ranted at me in quick fire spanish. somehow despite me knowing no spanish and him knowing no english we were able to have the most delightful conversation - I managed to explain that I was travelling the world and would be in 4 countries in South America, that it was my first time, that I was going back to get the money I was owed by the bad man at the airport. Somehow we worked out that it was a return trip and that he would wait for me to take me back to my wife at the hostel, that I had no kids, that he had 4 and he taught me all the days of the week, my lefts and rights and north south east and west. It was awesome!!

anyway, I got to the airport and went back to the currency exchange place and showed them my receipt with the ridiculous rate and their own board behind them with the proper rate...

non comprende...

I used a calculator and looked angry..

smiles and shrugs...

hmmm, ok then I'll tell everyone in the airport who'll listen to me rant about you that you are a bad man!!

off I went, first to two officials, then another and then finally customer service - just as I got to customer service the guy came bounding over suddenly comprehending that he had in fact ripped me off and it was all a mistake... or so I thought!.. quite non-plussed we went back, he took my receipt - anxious I handed it over, he went to another room, came back, pointed at the screen a few times, whispered something to his still-smiling assistant then handed me the missing $105! I just thanked him and walked away and thanked God. I got back into the waiting taxi, had another hysterical but completely awesome cab trip back and got back to the Hostel exhilerated!

What an unbelievable start to South America - a guy rips me off in the money exchange and the first person we meet had been robbed, at gunpoint. It gave me a quick wake-up call to keep my wits about me and that Lou and I should really be wise and prayerful about where we go.

One other encouraging thing was that I realised that without any knowledge of spanish I was pretty much able to get by conversationally with the cab driver and understand what he was getting at - it really inspired me to get stuck in at the language school when we get to Manta for our fortnights tuition in a few days time.

tonight we dine on the rooftop terrace and settle in
geerbox says:
Haha, I love somehow being able to communicate with people while not speaking the same languages!
Posted on: Mar 30, 2008
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photo by: Bluetraveler