Sunday.............Ambota to Quito
Quito Travel Blog› entry 75 of 129 › view all entries
Wake up before 7 and watch F1. Mark Webberâ€™s car dies about halfway through the race, so itâ€™s not that exciting a race for me, although Lewis Hamilton has an excellent day. Spend some time on the puter and have room service for breakfast. Donâ€™t know what access Iâ€™ll have to the internet in the next two weeks.
Go downstairs around 1:15 so I can be ready for Paul by 1:30. When he isnâ€™t there by 1:35 I start to worry because he was keen to leave early, rather than later. By 1:40 I think he isnâ€™t going to come. I remember that when I told the receptionist that I was paying USD30 for the tour of Ambato and drive to Quito, he was very surprised and said that it usually costs USD60 to 70 just for the taxi trip to Quito.
When the taxi arrives, I ask the driver if he can give me a tour of Ambato and then take me to the bus station. He says yes, and reels off some names of places that we can visit. I ask, for half an hour? He says, an hour. I ask, how much? He says USD8 so I say ok. We then start on a tour. Iâ€™m a little surprised when we spend quite a bit of time in a park and he suggests going further, no thanks, I donâ€™t need to see any more. Heâ€™s friendly but keeps driving around and eventually goes to a large shopping centre and seems to think that I want to go there.
When we arrive at the bus terminal I ask him to wait while I buy the ticket. I go inside and find that itâ€™s pretty rough and ready and I canâ€™t buy a ticket. There are men walking around shouting out the names of towns for the bus for which they are spruiking. It appears that there are no â€śqualityâ€ť buses to Quito. I go outside and tell the driver that Iâ€™m going to have to take my luggage so that I can get on a bus, as I canâ€™t buy a ticket beforehand. He starts getting the bags from the car and I give him USD10, which includes a very good tip of USD2.
I struggled through to where the buses were and found one to Quito, which is a 3 hour trip. I found two seats near to the front and when I was asked to move my bags, said that I wanted to buy 2 tickets.
I thought that there was going to be plenty of space, but then lots of people got on, even when there are no more seats. Some guy sits on the armrest and is about to fall on my bag and me, so I tell him that thereâ€™s glass in the bag and to be careful. He keeps getting closer to landing on me and I go to push him off. Then the conductor yells at him, and when he doesnâ€™t shift, yells at him again. So eventually he sits on an area at the front of the bus where there is a large round padded seat, along with four or five other men. During the course of the journey he is yelled at more than once, eventually going to sleep between/on top of other men. Ecuadorians donâ€™t have the strong sense of personal space that is so prevalent in some cultures, including Australian. When we go around a sharp corner the men all have to hang on, or theyâ€™ll land on the floor. At some stage a woman in the aisle starting calling out to the conductor, but she canâ€™t get through because of the bodies in the way. Then the guy behind her throws up in the aisle, but my bag only suffers a few splashes. So someone else dry reaches and a child opens the window and leans out. Ah, what a fun day Iâ€™m having.
When I paid for the tickets on the bus, I suddenly realized that the USD4 I thought that Iâ€™d given to the taxi driver were, in fact, only worth USD0.25 each, so Iâ€™d only given him USD11, not USD14. No wonder he stayed so annoyed.
We arrive at Quito. I am to ring Mariana, who Iâ€™m staying with, but canâ€™t ring her on my mobile. Not sure what I should be doing, but Iâ€™m obviously not using the correct prefix or whatever. Anyway I ring her from one of the many phone cabins (boxes) that you find in South America and fortunately she answers. I ask how to get to her place, as I donâ€™t have the address. I then grab a taxi driver so that he can hear the directions, as itâ€™s a bit complicated. I offer him paper and pencil to write it down, but he doesnâ€™t need them. So off we go. I ask the cost, he says, very cheap. He is a grumpy driver, so I decide not to say anything, as I just want to get to Marianaâ€™s. Then he has to stop to ring Mariana from a phone cabin; it turns out that he is lost. So he gets even more annoyed. Then he gets lost again and has to use his mobile, all the time getting angrier. He totally ignored me when I offered the paper and pencil to write down the address (macho man) and also ignored me when I saw the sign for the English Institute. I didnâ€™t know that was where he was supposed to turn, it was only later that I realized. Donâ€™t know how he missed it.
Eventually we find the place and Mariana and her husband, Fran, are waiting in the street. The driver has to drive through a paddock, but itâ€™s not difficult. My bags are taken out and I ask, how much? USD15. I know this is far too much. Mariana and Fran start arguing with the driver as the price is obviously ridiculous. The fare is usually USD6. I donâ€™t care what heâ€™s asking for, Iâ€™ll decide what I think is fair. OK USD6 for the fare, plus USD3 more for using the phone and speaking to Mariana on the phone at the terminal. And thatâ€™s what I give him.
So Iâ€™ve now arrived at the home of Mariana Gonzalez and her family (husband is Fran) in Quito, where I am staying for two weeks. The home is 15 minutes by bus from the old city and 35 minutes by bus from de Mariscal. www.learnspanishinecuador.net. USD210 pw including 4 hours of Spanish lessons in the mornings and full board.
Mariana and her family are very welcoming and there is another Australian there, Hayley, from Adelaide, who teaches English in exchange for free board. I have my own room and ensuite and the day has ended well, with good companyâ€¦â€¦...and more great (!?) experiences to remember.