Ecuador: Day 1


Yes, I went to Ecuador. No, I did not go to the coast or visit the Galapagos Islands.

Why?

It's much cheaper to see the rest of the country and to explore the incredible volcanoes atop heights close to 9,000 feet above sea level and then to venture all the way down to the jungle the very next day. 

Why did I go during rainy season?

To escape the bitterly long Canadian winter. And when you travel at the tail end of the rainy season, you get a few beautiful days when chance smiles upon you. It's also off-season, which means my wallet thanks me.


DAY 1-  Arrive in Quito

Flights into Quito are a bit tricky if you're Canadian.Tricky in the sense that you have no choice but to go through the United States. American airport security makes no sense. We landed, got through customs and security for a second time before we repeated the whole thing all over again at another airport in Texas. We only had carry on luggage, which saved us a bit of time, but we still ended up annoyed and tired from running across departure gates. 

We arrived in the middle of the night and cabbed it to our hotel. Cheap cab fare, considering the trip took a little under an hour. We were exhausted and fell asleep immediately. When we woke, this was outside our window:


It was a good omen, despite it being rainy season, we woke to a clear blue sky. We hopped out of bed immediately and hit the town to see as much as we can before the clouds arrived. 

Our first stop was the Basilica del Voto Nacional. On top of a hill, the Gothic cathedral was impressive on the outside. The inside, which only cost $2 US to enter, was a bit of a bore. The day we went, the steps to their tower was closed off for repairs, so it was a bit disappointing. We spent more time outside, looking for all the South American animals on the outside of the church. 
  



With the sky still blue, we made for El Panecillo. We negotiated with the cab driver (which is how to take a cab in Ecuador) to take us up the hill for a mere $5 US. The dab driver took it upon himself to drive us to the prison and point it out to us first. For limited English and poor Spanish, we got on quite well. 


And there she stood, La Virgen de Quito. She was impressive and so was the sight from the top. The entire city laid out before us and it hits me that we were in a vast, growing city where poverty still haunts. While a small portion of it looks like any other metropolis, the haze that was starting to show from diesel powered buses weren't enough to obscure the slums covering the hill side. This was Quito, the capital city. I knew that these were the lucky ones and that I'll only see more over the rest of my trip. 


When the clouds started to gather, we knew that we need to head back down to the city. We caught a cab and this time the fare was only $4 US. We wandered in and out of souvenir shops in Old Town. I thought these figurines were rather odd and could only think to associate it with the racist past of southern USA. Later on in the trip, someone explained that these were in fact cucuruchos. They are men dressed in purple cone shaped coverings during holy week and walk in a procession carrying giant crosses and chains on their feet.


Despite being healthy late 20-somethings, my boyfriend and I both got altitude sickness on the first day. Quito rests at a little over 9000 feet above sea level. We grew short of breath when we climbed the virgin. We weren't able to see or do as much as we planned on the first full day. By 3pm, I had a migraine and needed to go back to the hotel to rest. Lucky for us, that's when the rain started.

After a nap, we had a light dinner and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing. More physical aspects of the trip were still coming up, and we didn't want to tire ourselves out immediately. 


Sharon