I was getting a little bored of traveling. Putting together 2 international trips per year was exciting for a while but it became a little rote, kinda chorelike, like I was just ticking off destinations. But after a 2 year hiatus, the fire has been stoked once again and I’ve shipped myself off, to Ecuador this time.
I’m not a last-minute person but with some unplanned time off from work, I figured I’d make the most of it and take a vacation to someplace warm and tropical and Hispanic. Its kind of a shit time of year in Vancouver and, although vacation may not seem to be the most prudent thing when you have no income, you only live once.
Today is day 1 of 11 days in Ecuador and I spent today in the capital city of Quito. My flight arrived very late last night and I stayed near the airport for convenience so this morning’s taxi ride through Quito gave me my first impressions of the city. This is one hell of a place and I don’t quite know where to start, so I’m doing bullet points:
– its not flat, nor is it at sea level. Quito sits at 2850m and the volcanic peaks surrounding the city top out around 4500m. The undulating terrain and lush green hills are absolutely gorgeous. Kinda reminds me of Hawaii.
– the effects of altitude are obvious immediately, and even simple things like going up stairs leave me a little winded. Sometimes even breathing leaves me winded. I’m planning on hiking a peak later in the trip… well see how that goes.
– its more modern than I thought it would be. No its quite the same as Vancouver but its a far cry from Cuba. Then again I’ve only seen Quito and I’m expecting more manana culture in the countryside.
– English is not very common here. In fact, almost no one speaks anything other than Spanish and I imagine it would be challenging to get around without a decent grasp of Espanol. Luckily, i have a decent grasp of Espanol.
– 6 de Diciembre is a big national party day in Ecuador. Ill be in the countryside on 12/6 (which might be a good thing) but today is Friday 12/4 and the festive atmosphere is really ramping up. There is salsa music pumping everywhere in the city center and every few minutes a party truck goes by with even more salsa and about 30 people dancing and partying on a makeshift dance floor in the back. Its hard not to get in the swing of things and I seriously considered jumping on one. There are also thousands of extra police, so yeah, maybe its not such a bad idea to get out of Quito tomorrow.
– travel doesn’t always have to be pleasant to be memorable and worthwhile. This clicked in my head just recently and it sure eliminates the stress of feeling like you have to max out everything all the time. It’ll be great no matter what happens.
– money goes far here. Duh. I bought a 3 dollar lunch today and there was absolutely zero chance of being able to finish it. The 1.50 combo woulda been totally adequate. Hotels are about $20. Except on the coast where I’ve splurged a bit and booked a $40 room in a deluxe hotel with a balcony right over the beach.
– I like to sit and watch the locals. I went into a monastery and a museum today and, surprise surprise, they’re full of tourists. But out in the squares and parks, with pumping salsa, that’s where the action is. So far people have been really njce and accommodating. They’re also really short – I think some of the women are close to 4 ft.
I’m off to the cloudforests of Mindo tomorrow for a couple days, and then out to the tropical beaches for 4 days. If weather cooperates I’ll spend 2 final days in the high Andes around Quito.