Quito: Arriving, The Secret Garden and Spanish Lessons
Quito Travel Blog› entry 1 of 8 › view all entries
Its fair to say that we really didnt know what to expect when we first landed in Quito and its also fair to say that we underestimated the language barrier.
We arrived at our hostel, the now "very famous" Secret Garden (thanks to a little segment called the "Authors Choice" in the latest edition of Lonely Planet: Ecuador) situated in the heart of Quitos Old Town, at 11:30pm on a Thursday night and were greeted with a half drunk Ecuadorian guy who only spoke Spanish. After offering us a beer he proceeded to give us a detailed tour of the hostel by opening all of the dorm rooms, turning on the lights and having rather loud conversations which neither Anna or I had a clue about, all while most of the hostel was trying to sleep.
The next morning presented a totally different story. Most of the staff and guests at the hostel spoke English, we had managed to score one of the best dorm rooms and the hostel had a killer view from the terrace, which has also been fashioned into an alfresco restaurant, overlooking the whole of Quitos old town + a little bit more. The first task of the morning was to book ourselves into some Spanish Lessons - 40 hrs of them in fact....we would need every single one of them. Mission accomplished we grabbed some breakfast (so good!!) and checked out the layout of the hostel.
The Secret Garden Hostel (www.secretgardenquito.com) is located in Anteparra Street, right in the heart of Quitos "Old Town". It is owned and operated by an Ecuadorian-Australian couple, however they are currently developing a new hostel in the Cotopaxi region and therefore their time at the S.G. is limited. The day to day running of the hostel is left to a couple of managers (Brad and Rob), Ecuadorian staff who perform the cooking and cleaning, and a squad of volunteers from all over the world (check out the website if you are interested in volunteer opportunities). The hostel has a number of dorm rooms ($6pp per night), private rooms (starting at $12 a night), internet, restaurant (serving breakfast and dinner) and laundry service, all spread over 5 floors (it is quite narrow).
On our first morning in Quito we ventured out for a look around the old town. It just so happened to be Easter Friday and it just so happens that the main religion in Quito is Catholicism which can mean only one thing....thousands and thousands of people lining the streets for an Easter procession. After being advised by a policeman (who seemed to make it his priority) to strap our back packs to our chest, Anna and I picked a spot on a corner and waited for the parade to come past. Now the last parade I went to was a christmas pageant in Latrobe with little kids and santa claus.
Following the first day, the remaining days of our first week in Quito consisted of exploring the city in the morning, Spanish lessons for 4 hours in the afternoon and dinner on the Terrace at night.
Then Spanish lessons in the afternoon. I would describe learning Spanish as incredibly frustrating, you think you have finally got a hold of it and then it flips a birdie at you and runs away as fast as it can flashing a moon in the process!! In the first week we took in so much information, we went from novice to a little better than novice (Anna faring much better than me) but its amazing how a little amount goes a long way. Suddenly we had more confidence eating out, catching buses etc etc.
A big shout out to Sandra (with whom Anna revised her French with) and the Aussie boys John and Brad, good luck with your volunteering adventure lads, it was awesome getting to know you!!
Stay tuned for the Sights and Sounds of Quito and also our Homestay in Quito!!