After three months in Colombia, it was time to move on to a whole new world. Ecuador, a Latin American country that just uses US dollars. If you’re wondering where all our Sacagawea dollars went, the answer is Ecuador. They have a rich appreciation for Native American culture here.
I spent my first night in Plaza Foch, which is the more modern, party, Gringo area. I took advantage of the opportunity and went to a Tex Mex place called Tarzan, which was delicious, and then went to bed at 9. Then I move to my AirBnb, which was a bit of a distance from the plaza and centro historico, but it was in a business area next to a huge park, so it worked out pretty well.
The altitude thing is no joke. Given that I had been almost dead for a couple weeks and hadn’t worked out in a month I wasn’t expecting much, but I ran for about 3 minutes before getting a cramp and walking. It took a few days to sort of get past that.
There was another park on the other side (Parque Metropolitano Guanguiltagua) that ended up being a hike up a huge hill, not a park. A long walk in the rain later, I was greeted mostly be a lovely view of clouds. It cleared up for a few moments, so this was the best I could do.
I pretty much just chilled in Quito for a couple weeks and didn’t take pictures. That, and ate at Wok to Walk like fifty times. I mean, like $5 for the tofu special, come on.
Also, I spent most of my days at Juan Valdez. There were two fantastic ones within a couple blocks of each other. So fantastic that I didn’t once go to the hipster coffee shop between them. I like to think they miss me and spend a considerable amount of time wondering if I got kidnapped.
Sweet & Coffee is also a local chain that is very good. Better cakes and stuff, but for some reason the ambiance just doesn’t feel as work-friendly. Too cozy I think.
When my sister and her boyfriend arrived, we did some exploring of centro historico and went up the Basilica del Voto Nacional. Well worth the $2, you get some good pictures and see quite a bit of Jesus stuff.
We took a Saturday trip to the market in Otavalo, which is the biggest market in Ecuador. We walked around for the better part of the day, and I ended up buying an Ecuador t-shirt and a winter hat with alpacas or llamas on it. Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a difference. Probably not, just like wolves and coyotes.
Then, we went to Banos. Not really sure why a town is called bathroom, but whatever. They have the end of the world swing (La Casa del Arbol) there. I did not do it, but I looked at it. I did not do rafting and stuff either. But I did go for a run and saw some waterfalls. I did that without my camera though (I don’t take as many pictures when my sister is around doing it). Also, the Wifi is terrible there.
Then we stayed in Latacunga, which is where you go so that you can go to Cotopaxi. It’s an active volcano, the second highest in the world I think they said. Sadly, the summit was closed. We took a tour here and hiked up to the refuge, where they put chocolate cakes on the menu but don’t have them and try to sell you pineapple cakes instead. Pineapple! In a cake! Regardless, I took a bunch of pictures. So here are those.
After climbing the volcano, we went to a lake nearby. Saw some birds.
I went back to Quito a little early to find some decent WiFi and catch up on some work, leaving them on their own to find their way back after a day of exploring. Which they did. Very proud. Totally ready for the rest of their trip now.
Lacking the time, I had to skip the Quilotoa Loop. I’ll have to go back to Ecuador, I guess.
We stayed at a hostel in Quito in order to catch our flight to the Galapagos in the morning. I prepped for the experience by just setting money on fire, throwing it out the window and yelling “show me a penguin.” I just hope that volcanic vomit can live up to expectations.