Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Quito, Ecuador - finally meet up with Dominique!

Woke up at 5am this morning- or rather got up - as Loki Hostel, where i am staying had their first annual Halloween bash which ended at around 5am.... i know, i know, i sound like a boring fart but come on now, i had just climbed Mount Everest, hmmmm I mean Machu Picchu, so i have an excuse...plus i did have a good few wee drinkies earlier that night with my MP friends ....

On to the airport - flew into Lima then checked right into my next flight to Quito - so it was goodbye Peru, and hello Ecuador!

Got into Quito around 4pm. For you folks dying for some more of my exciting travel facts, Ecuador is roughly the size of New Zealand (or the state of Nevada!) with 12 million people. There is so much to do here - from the obvious and amazing - the Galapagos, to the beautiful beaches and coastline, to the misty Amazon jungles of the Oriente, and then you also have incredible mountains including 2 huge ones - Cotopaxi (5,897m) and Chimborazo (6,310m) - and no I didnt attempt either of those as you need to do some night hiking with crampons etc. in the ice to get to the top before it all melts, well, at least for Cotopaxi, that is true!! I´m sure you are all aware I´m not quite that adept at hiking so I didnt bother with those - thank you very much!!! But I did meet some very nice people who did climb it, including Harry who writes for the Rough Guide travel books.. very nice Englishman who is very knowledgeable on Ecuador (he wrote the book, so he probably should be!).

Quick facts on Ecuador - Guayacil(the country´s largest city and a huge port on the coast) is the economic capital of the country and up until about 15 years ago, had the interesting title of being "the most dangerous city in South America". I, of course, had to research this fact exhaustively to confirm if this story was an urban myth or not! Apparantly it was indeed true, but in the last 10-15 years with new mayors and progessive city management, all of which were intent on promoting the positive impact of fixing the city to the city inhabitants themselves, helped change things. So i think Rio, Mexico City or Bogota perhaps may have taken over - will need to google that and get back to you later with a finite answer there!

So - back to Quito. Got a taxi to my new "home from home" - The Secret Garden - a great hostel, which can be found in San Blas between the Old and the New Towns of Quito. Check out the view from the terrace! The folks working at Secret Garden are brilliant- Lucien and Mateos are both Swiss and have been there for more than 6 months so are a fund of information!

The big news - I met up with Dominique - yah!!Great to see her and hear about all of her Peruvian adventures - she got into Quito early this morning after taking a nice 12 hour bus journey overnight...so we took the bull by the horns and went for a few drinks to celebrate.. nice to know there is an armed guard watching over you when you are having your pina colada in Quito! It was a little strange but then he was very nice so you just have to be nice back, and not worry about why the funky, hip cafe bar might actually need an armed guard!!!
Quito is Ecuador´s second largest city and the political capital of the country. First impressions are of a big, sprawling dirty city - I know there are lots of "muy bonita" sights but I´m just being honest....the city is divided into 2 key areas - the colonial Old Town (this is really pretty!) and the more modern New Town where many tourists stay before heading off to Galapagos! There is tons to do here but to be honest, we will be using it mainly as our base camp for a number of different trips (but more on that later!)..

Had dinner at the Secret Garden´s terrace cafe ---deeelicious - did i say how great the food has been since i started traveling - no chance of me wasting away to a shadow i have to tell you! Also had an amazing Andean group playing during dinner which put you in the perfect Ecuadorian mood! So hasta luega folks.. till the next time!


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