Arrivial in South America
Quito Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
February 20th, 2009 – by: tommyd1981
Well, it's been 10 days since we have arrived in South America and I am starting to feel comfortable in Ecuador. My body has acclimated to the altitude and I have even learned a little Spanish. When they say February in the Andes in rainy season, they mean it. Leaving Boston, MA in the winter time I was really hoping to see some sun, but other than today it has not really happened. If someone is insistent on visiting Quito in February my best advice: spend the 2 dollars on the umbrella, because you are going to need it. My first impressions of Quito (other than the weather) was it seemed to be your typical large city in a developing nation being thrust into the 21st century whether it's ready or not. It has sky scrapers, as you would expect, while street vendors peddle their knock-off goods and pirated DVDs. Diesel powered cars spat their dark smoke into the air, which chokes anyone walking by and taxi drivers are honking at lost tourists to offer them an overpriced ride. There are KFC's, Burger King's and the Golden Arches, but also little hole-in-the-wall eateries where you can get a 3 course lunch for a buck twenty five. The public transportation here is above average quality, easy to use, and very inexpensive. I only wish it ran past 10pm, as the locals have told us walking through the city after dark is an incredibly bad idea. We did make an attempt to leave the city for a weekend, but it failed miserably when our bus driver decided to take his own detour through muddy roads going up in down the mountainous cloud forest terrain. In his defense, a mud slide had slowed traffic down on the major road, however his cavalier attitude toward driving was scary. The fact that we were in a full size bus, on slippery muddy roads, looking over cliffs that dropped thousands of feet off a mountain with no guard rails, and the bus driver wouldn't slow down despite the fact the bus seemed to be "drifting," made us decide to get off the bus and try our luck hitchhiking through the rain forest. (quick aside, I am by no means afraid of a little mountain road travel. I have traveled through the high elevation Rockies without batting and eye, as well as one slippery ride through the Himalayas with a driver that seemed to be hell-bent on driving us off a cliff on my way to Kathmandu. There have been countless mountains in many countries that I have traversed in one way or another. In all my travels, I have never made a decision to get off a means of conveyance, but I had zero faith that this driver knew what he was doing, and I am fairly certain he wasn't quite "sober"). Once off the bus, feeling happy to be alive and catching our stomachs, we were left with our latest challenge....being in the middle of nowhere and deciding which way to turn. Fate had smiled upon us that day, as a pick-up truck driver came by who happened to be heading to Quito, let us pile in the bed of his truck and took us back home. Coincidentally, the driver of this truck lived only a few blocks from where our friend's lived and also happened to be former teachers at the school they currently work at. We also later found out that a vehicle had slid off the same road that day, we don't know if it was a bus or not, but it certainly erased any doubts I had about getting off that bus. It happened to be Valentine's day, so Hilary and I thought it would be best to take it easy and have a quiet dinner and have a nice night alone. Making the most out of the next day, we were really happy to discover the Old Town of Quito. Much nicer than the tourist ghettos, and the sketchy New Town. The food was better, cheaper, and the streets were safer and felt much more authentic. That afternoon we checked out a soccer game, which was extremely wet, but a good time nonetheless. If we are going to let rain get us down, we wouldn't be doing too much here. The last week hasn't been very eventful, we took some Spanish lessons, attempted to Salsa, hung out a lot, and did what we liked doing best; drinking cheap beers and sampling the food from as many different places as possible. This will be our last night in Quito, we have enjoyed our stay here, but certainly ready to get to see some beaches. Before that though, there is CARNAVAL! We will be heading to Cuenca for the festivities, stay tuned the stories!
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