Still in Quito

Quito Travel Blog

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The old town is safe!

Well I´ve been here a week and it feels like much longer, I´ve done loads of stuff, I don´t know where to begin!

Spanish school is over, I´m not sure I learned a great deal in a week even though my teacher gave me a test everyday. It was more like a refresher. I would have liked to do another week but need to start moving south this week. It served its purpose though, I got to settle in and meet other people. I went to school in the morning 8.30 until 12pm and then had the rest of the day to explore.

On Tuesday, I went into the old town with Susannah (my roommate) for a look around at the colonial buildings and plazas etc. We also went into La Companion de Jesus, a jesuit church covered ceiling to floor in gold, although churches arent really my thing it was amazing.

We also had lunch in a local establishment for $1.50, a piece of unidentifable chicken, chips, rice and veg as well as a drink, all for about 80p. On the way home from the Old city we went on the Trole (a tram type thing) no one told me that the machine didn´t accept small coins. I eventually got through the turn style and Susannah got on the Trole and before I could get on the doors closed. She mouthed that she would come back for me and thank god she did because I had no idea where I was going. I felt like an idiot waiting at the stop so I went out and was approached my a shady character who asked where I was from and asked if I wanted to see the guinea pigs he was holding in a box. I ignored him and he went off to speak to the policeman behind me, the policeman then tried to ask where I was from and I ignored him too and calmly walked away.
The real equator
As I did, the dodgy guy told me to be careful because it wasn´t safe around there. Thank god Susannah came back for me!

On Wednesday, I had had my first bus journey to Mitad del Mundo. It took about 2 hours to get there, the bus goes round the city several times until its full. We went to the Ciudad del Mundo, which is the government monument which claims to be the real equatorial line. It was sadly like Lands End, a collection of shops and gawdy buildings, a real disappointment. You can go to the top of the monument to see the view which was good and then visit an ethnographic museum on the way down which was interesting.

The real equatorial line, established by the American Army´s GPS is a short walk away. That was far more interesting as we got to do the experiments that you can only do on the equator line, like whirpools going clockwise on one side of the line, anti clockwise on the other and straight down on the line, all to do with gravity.

We also balanced an egg on a nail, for which I got a certificate. But best of all you apparently nlose 2lbs on the line - great!

On Thursday we had classes for an hour and then went to the Banco Del Central de Ecuador, the main museum. Our teachers came with us and mine insisted that we had the guide speak in Spanish. It was a long tour and we all lost the will to live towards the end because although we got the gist of what he was saying it was hard work. I felt sorry for the guide. In the afternoon, I went round the market with Susannah checking out the tacky souvenirs and trying stupid hats on. I then met Rachel, the girl I got chatting to over the internet and we went with Susannah to the Telefrica, which is a cable car that takes you to the top of the mountain for a view of Quito, 4000 metres up.

Quito at Night
We went at dusk, so we got to see the city lit up, you don´t realise how big this place is, it sprawls as far as you can see along the valley between the mountains and you could see the planes landing, the airport is in the centre of Quito which is strange, when I landed we were so low I could see people on the streets. Unfortunately, it wasn´t that clear in the light, its probably best to go in the morning where you can almost guarantee a clear view. Lorena told us there was a disco at the top but we didn´t believe her - it was true and amusements too, strange. I was glad it was dark on the way back because it was a long and steep way down and as Lorena said it is muy romantico!

I finished school on Friday and met Rachel and her friend from school and we caught the bus to Otavalo, for the famous saturday market.

The teachers and pupils at my school
 Another 2 hour bus ride, but this time along the panamerican highway, the views were spectacular. Loads of people got on and off the bus but no chickens yet! We found a really nice hostel close to the main square and went out to a local pena (bar), we went to a couple of places but ending up going back to the first place. There were just a few locals in there and we got chatting and drinking with them, they all wanted to dance with us so we were there till about 3am. Everytime we tried to sit down we got asked to dance again, it was great fun but we were hungover the next day, so didn´t get up early for the animal market as planned.

The market covered almost every street in Otavalo and it was great for people watching, I bought a hat and the biggest most ridiculous woollen socks you´ve ever seen. We bumped into our local friends from the night before who thought it was hilarious that we had hangovers. They tried to persuade us to go to a local party that night. After a while, we decided we´d had enough of the market and got a taxi out of town to a waterfall, I only dipped my toe in but now have about 18 bites on my ankle and lower leg. The others got bit too.

I stayed on saturday and the others went home. On sunday morning I went on a tour to about 3 indigenous communities to see ponchos, baskets, hats, tapestries etc being made. The tour was really good, the guide was informative. I understood what he was saying about the people, education, everyday life etc, even though he spoke in Spanish. I got to have a go at combing the wool before it is spun, not as easy as the little old woman made it look and I had a go on a loom making a tapestry.

I headed back to Quito on my own in the afternoon and had 2 gentlemen try to have a conversation with me, they all want to know where you are from and what you think of their country, I need to learn something other than I thinks its nice! I picked up my rucksack which I left at Lorena´s and moved into the centre of Gringo land to the same hostel as Tara, the Irish girl who came with us to Otavalo. Last night I shared a room with one girl and 4 blokes! Tara has a couple of weeks to spare so we are going to travel south tomorrow to do the Quilatoa circuit, more rural villages. She has met people who highly recommend the area and will be there when we arrive. I can´t believe how well things are turning out, meeting people and doing all the things I had planned. Its a bit overwhelming when I stop and think about it.

Quito is good, there is plenty to do here but I feel I am ready to move on now. It was good to go to Otavalo and get away from the pollution. The weather is strange here too, you never know what its going to do. It is warm all the time but cools in the evening, it was 30 degrees on friday though. Is it spitting at home?! 

Well, I think those are the weeks highlights. I´ve taken loads of pictures and will get around to uploading them hopefully at some point. Off to pick up my washing now (I stink!) and have a last look around the market.

Boughtonbetty says:
Hi Helen,
Glad everything is working out OK - you certainly seem to have packed a lot in to your first week. Really enjoyed reading your account. Keep up the good work.
Luv, B and T
Posted on: Sep 12, 2006
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The old town is safe!
The old town is safe!
The real equator
The real equator
Quito at Night
Quito at Night
The teachers and pupils at my scho…
The teachers and pupils at my sch…
photo by: Bluetraveler