¿Qué Pasó en Quito?March 10 in Ecuador
From the shallow-end of the Amazon in Baños, we travelled four hours by bus to Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. We arrived at the bus station and it appeared that there were very few people catching our bus. No more than five minutes after we commenced our journey, the bus stopped and hoards of people got on, filling up every available seat, with a few left to stand in the aisle. Then came the “late night” infomercial on-board the bus with hawkers selling their goods. But these hawkers were unlike others who normally sell baked goods, drinks or other snacks. They even had a suitcase filled with all kinds of odds and ends. They had everything from hair straighteners, solar-powered lamps to sunglasses; everything except the free steak knives. Pero espere, hay más (But wait, there's more). The sales pitch went on for about twenty minutes, with one spruiking and another handing out the goods for people to look at or try, except they didn't bother with the gringos. The language barrier was obviously too much for them. Phew! One of the rare moments where lacking the language skills, or at least appearing to, has been to our advantage.
When we got to Quito, the bus dropped us at the terminal in the outskirts of the city and we then had to make our way to the downtown area by taxi. Not long after we arrived at the terminal, we ran into los Canadienses, Dave and Terrie, who had taken a slightly later bus but managed to arrive around the same time. Dave went out to the taxi rank to enquire about the cost. But by the time that we got back out to the taxi rank, the price had increased from US$8 to $10. The extra cost was either inflation or a gringo tax. We jumped in two taxis and headed for the centre of town. There was no way that we would have all fit in one taxi, along with all the luggage and shopping that the los Canadienses had brought with them.
When we arrived at our hostel, we quickly unpacked and went to explore our surrounds. And while we felt there wasn't much in the area by way of food and drink, we were able to sniff out tasty treats. We were able to combine both alcoholic beverages and dessert in one treat in the form of alcoholic lollies. The lollies were filled with a small shot of alcohol that burst in the mouth. Unfortunately, the delicate sweets needed to be consumed immediately – there was no way that they were going to survive the next part of our trip. What a shame!
We continued to graze our way through Quito but, according to Jason, he felt that despite the lack of exercise and the increase in calories that we had lost weight. Jason assumed this on the fact that he needed to wear a belt. However, Ricky crushed his wishful thinking and offered an alternative hypothesis; could it be that our clothes have simply stretched? If we were to stand on the equator near Quito, our bellies would be in the northern hemisphere and the rest of body would be in the southern hemisphere. Do they sell lite and easy meals in South America? We certainly haven't seen a Jenny Craig Weight Loss Clinic anywhere in South America – just many panaderías selling sugar-laden desserts.
In between snacks and meals, we caught up with los Canadienses, who joined us in our gastronomical adventure through Quito, before they continued on their journey of Ecuador. We spent the next few days wandering around the downtown and historic areas of the city, admiring the colonial-style buildings. According to UNESCO, Quito is the largest and best-preserved city in all of the Americas and became a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. Being within one kilometre of the equator and at an elevation of 2850 metres, the city is the second highest capital city and the closest to the “middle of the earth”. Fortunately, the elevation of the city means that it has a cool, subtropical highland climate. After four days in Quito, we decided it was time to move on to lower, warmer weather.
Next stop: Guayaquil
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