Well what can I say about Quito? How do I put it? My expectations have definitely been higher. I arrived at the airport at around five and took me 2 hours to get to town. The airport is well far out, a taxi ride is like 30 $. I took a bus and then a taxi and it was still 17 $. Long story short. I came there and was immediately annoyed. And that feeling hasn’t really gone so far. Everything is a mission. Finding travel agencies, booking trips as a single traveler, finding ATMs. People send you in opposite directions. And the fact that this is my last country before I get to the US and I am honestly sick of traveling doesn’t make it easier. Most people who I talked to in shops or on the street (because they see me and just start talking to me) are very nice and “amable”. I think the fact that some conversations go like….:
“So, do you have a boyfriend”
“What does he work?”
“How much does he make a months?”
“Err, excuse me?”
…. is not really meant to be unfriendly, just mere curiosity. I have talked a lot about money here, and during my tour today the first thing the guide told us was how much everyone makes. I think the fact that some dude passing by, shouting “ECUADOR!!” in my face – that is unfriendly. It’s only males, say aged 15 to 40 that may bother me on the streets. The rest is fine. Lots of random people on the streets also tell me to really watch my belongings. The taxis are meant to have cameras and “panic buttons” (most of them don’t though). Everything seems a bit, well, rougher than in other countries.
OK, that said. Whats there to do in Quito? Besides running errands.. The weather has been cloudy the past days, and I am told this is how it is. The historic center, where I am based, is pretty with lots of colonial houses, nice churches and places. I went up to the towers of the basilica which was really cool. I got awesome views and saw a lot of the church you normally don’t see. The stairs and ladders were steep and a bit scary to climb, but I liked it a lot. Besides that I found something awesome I have been eaten every day so far: Lucro de papa – Ecuadorian potato soup with avocado and cheese. Very tasty.
I have also been at the middle of the world – la mitad del mundo. Basically the equator which of course I find super amazing. The drive out was a bit of a mission (who’d have thought) but for me it was a great feeling to walk along latitude 00°00’00”. There are actually two equator lines in this area. Based on data obtained in 1736, it was believed that the equator passed 240 meters south of the actual equator. They discovered that mistake after measurements on the World Geodetic System WGS84 used in modern GPS systems and GIS products.
In total I had stayed four days in Quito – two in the beginning and then two between trips. In those four days I have seen the sun like 2 hours on the first day. Apparently it rains somewhere in or around Quito every single day, at least for a bit. Due to its location on the Andes slopes it has some sort of unique, different micro climates. Due to that reason my last day here has been spent in cafés and museums. The Casa Mariscal Sucre, a Venezuelan independence leader who was friends with Simón Bolívar (another great person who fought for independence). He played a big role in the independence of Quito from which the Republic of Ecuador eventually emerged. Then I visited the Museo Casa del Alabado that exhibits lots of Pre-Columbian artifacts. Pre-Columbian Ecuador included numerous indigenous people who thrived for thousands of years before the scent of the Incan Empire. The relationship to nature and to their ancestors had been of great importance. For them, life and its energy didn’t end with death but was renewed continuously. The spirit of the ancestors is always present and never dies. At last I went to the Museo del Carmen Alto, that shows the life and daily routines of the nuns who lived in the former Carmelite monastery. Besides that it contains a great amount of religious paintings, manly displaying the Lady of Sorrows (basically Virgin Mary who is in pain because of Jesus’ death).
Now I am already near the airport (after yet another stupidly expensive cab ride, in an expensive room), can’t wait to be flying out to the Galapagos Islands tomorrow. Four days in Quite had been more then enough, now it’s just one week of beach, sun and great wildlife before I will leave South America…