Quito nearly 9 months later

Quito Travel Blog

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Around midday we left Otavalo for Quito on our final day on the Tucan truck. Doing long drives on the truck was such a part of my life that it was a bit surreal knowing that I would never be on there again.

As we were about 50km from Quito we stopped at an equator monument. It was labelled as 'Mitad del Mundo', but it is not the famous French one that is in the wrong spot, nor the unofficial one next to it. It had a tall orange spire and we paid $1 each to enter the area. For the privilege a very intelligent woman gave us a 5-10 minute talk about the equator, the equinoxes, the prime position of the equator in Ecuador, and the way that a 'correct' world map would show north pointing to the left, not the top.

When she finished I decided to ask her about something that has bugged me for a long time. Allegedly at the unofficial equator place near the Mitad del Mundo, and in Uguanda and maybe other places, there are experiments performed to demonstrate how water drains down plug holes in different directions on different sides of the equator. To me that sounded completely ridiculous and I found some websites that backed me up, but nothing I could really trust as solid. The question always intruiged me because virtually everyone I asked who knows about the experiments say they are real. I asked the equator woman about the alleged experiments and she said they were just magic tricks. Vindication!

After another hour or so we arrived at our hotel in Quito. Felicity and Jackie from earlier in the tour made a surprise appearance as we drove in. We all got our stuff off the truck and donated whatever we didn't want to take with us after the tour. Christine and I didn't want to stay at the hotel after that night so we went to Arca del Sol in New Town and booked there for the following night. The woman there was very friendly and helpful so thumbs up to that place!

We went back to our first hotel and said our goodbyes to Nat and Suse, who were leaving overnight for a holiday of their own. Admittedly it was emotional saying farewell to people you had travelled with 24/7 for nearly 6 months. Suse had also put up a sign on the truck saying that we had done over 31,000km over the 171 days. In a straight line that's about three quarters around the whole Earth!

The group met up later on to go into New Town for a final group dinner. We tried to go to the Mongolian restaurant Mongo's, but it was closed like a lot of places on Sunday night. Instead we went to a Mexican place nearby where I had a massive double length burrito. After dinner people started scattering to either go out or go home, etc., Christine and I didn't think we'd see anyone again so I said goodbye to as many people as I could but it all sort of happened too quickly and I missed some people. Sorry if you were one of them!

The next day Christine and I got up at about 6am to get our bags to the other hostel in time to attempt a climb of Rucu Pichincha. The hordes of avid readers of my blog (cough) will know I tried to climb that volcano last September when I was last in Quito, but we didn't quite make it to the top (read here: http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-blogs/59415/Climbing-Rucu-Pichincha-4). We dropped our bags off but in the meantime we saw that it was heavily overcast, and from my experience last year I knew it would be miserable on the climb where the altitude would have us in thick cloud all day, and possibly also rain. We decided to try it the next day if we could.

Instead of going tramping up a volcano we had an impressive breakfast at the nearby Magic Bean. We ran into a bunch of the Tucan group there. After breakfast we went back to the hostel and then made our way to a shopping centre to get some things we needed. Christine bought a big sports bag to carry all the souvenirs she needed to take home, and I bought some sandals for the trek I was intending to do in Colombia. Later in the afternoon after we got back we went to a nearby cafe and ran into Felicity, Jen, Shane and Jackie. I said a proper goodbye to Shane and Jackie after I missed them the previous night, and the rest of us organised to meet up for dinner later.

We met up with about 10 of the Tucan group for a final final dinner (!) at Mongo's. The place had incredibly cheap drinks - 99c cocktails for example - but I was hoping to go trekking the next day so I didn't want to drink. After we were done I said final goodbyes to everyone.

The next day we got up to find the weather was even worse than the day before, with rain over the course of the morning. I had to settle with my desire to finally get to the top of Rucu Pichincha being left unfulfilled. That along with other failed attempts (Villarrica, Huayna Potosi) and non-started climbs (El Misti, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo) means I had a pretty poor run at mountaineering in the Andes. Maybe one day I will be inspired to come back on a mountaineering trip so that I have time to retry when obstacles come about.

With that idea now dead we hung around in the hostel for the morning and then went to the cafe Coffee Toffee for lunch. After lunch we went to the Old Town and checked out some of the sights. We tried to get near the Presidential Palace but there was an enormous armed police cordon around it. Christine asked about it in the Tourist Information office and was told that Hillary Clinton was visiting the President. It explained why there was anti Hillary Clinton vandalism on a wall as we drove towards New Town. We went to a currency museum at the old Banco del Ecuador building and looked through the Basilica where an old man offered to guide us or give a donation, but when we said 'no' he renounced us with 'you are not Catholic'. Correct.

We went back to the hostel where the taxi driver was blatantly driving around in circles trying to find it until we stopped him and walked the couple of blocks back. Not long after Christine left for the airport to head to New Zealand. I went to bed a few hours later before getting up at 2am to pack my bags and get to the airport for my flights to Colombia.
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photo by: Bluetraveler