Day 1 – 29.10.2009
We arrived in Quito around 9 a.m., after a flight change in Amsterdam and two other stops – one in Bonaire, in the Dutch Antilles and another in Guayaquil (port town in Ecuador). Total travel time – 22 hours.
We gained 7 hours travelling West, and although we felt like at the end of a day, here the day was just beginning.
In our first day here, we decided to play tourists, so we planned ahead and got a Hostel reservation with airport pick-up service. After all.. it’s a shame to get punked on your very first day by airport taxi drivers.
So our driver was there, waiting, with Tudor’s name written on a piece of paper and took us to “Posada del Maple” hostel in exchange for 10$.
This is the place we will call “home” for a few days. The room is nice, it has a queen size bed and a large window and is complete with creaky floors and a shared bathroom with hot water. We share it with some German and British tourists.
At first glance, the city seems very nice and stylish… I hope I’m right. It’s clean and the street trees are trimmed carefully. The lawn and flowers are very neat as well. This is but a shallow conclusion. We’ve only been here for two hours.
The weather, however, is excellent. It’s sunny and there are about 20 degrees C at 11 a.m. in spite the fact that Quito is perched at 2800 m altitude. The sun seems to be very intense.. so I reckon it will get even hotter.
Tudor insisted that we go eat and relax somewhere (how else was he going to start his day?). The driver recommended a place – “Mama Clorinda”. I assume, naturally, that the food here is supposed to be like home cooking. Only we didn’t know what their home cooking tasted like.
The place is just around the corner from the Hostel. We find it and order: Tudor asks for “guatita” with rice, and I ask for chicken with llapingachos. We get free soups with this order, to build an appetite. Bummer! The soup is made of cows feet (?) full of boiled corn, extremely fat and with an uninviting color – brownish. We both agree that Mama Clorinda can’t cook soup. Next comes the main course. Tudor struck out with this one as well – it’s also fat, juicy and made of cow belly. The garnish saves him – rice and avocado.
I, on the other hand, was quite happy with what I got. Chicken with corn, avocado, salad and beetroot, plus the famous llapingachos. They are fried bulges of mashed potatoes and cheese. I fed Tudor as well.
In the menu we also spotted the fries Guinea pig, served whole, crispy for 10$ a piece. Tudor says we shouldn’t try the weird stuff on our first day.
The waitress was overly delighted and helpful, especially once we told her that we’ve only been in Ecuador for a few hours. She was ecstatic.
She talked too much and too fast for us. (in Spanish) – we were only able to understand about 45%. At the end she wrote down for us a list of places we could visit in Quito. Sweet!
After brunch we took a taxi and went to see the old town, which is completely different from the part of town we were in, which is called Gringolandia – because most of the tourists stay around here.
The old town is as it should be: narrow streets, paved with stones, a lot of one-way streets, beautiful churches, plazas and green parks, everything laid over steep hills that took their toll on us. The high altitude didn’t help. We were gasping for air. Tudor eventually gave up. But before this happened I still had time to look around for shops and stuff to buy. It’s full of stores that sell cloths and wool and cotton, and on every street corner you can see vendors selling fruits, sweets and ice-cream (they keep it cold by putting it in dry ice. I didn’t know there even was such a thing as dry ice!)
Everything is accompanied by loud Andean music coming from some of the stores. The mood is wonderful. Very.. alive!
People are very colorful – dark skinned, sun-burnt cheeks and not very tall. I like them because they smile a lot. I smile too. I like the women, also. Especially the ones that carry their babies tied to their backs with a piece of cloth, and wear funny hats.
In the afternoon, the streets fill up with schoolgirls in their uniforms with skirts and white socks going home from school.
We walked back to the hotel. We walked for about 6 km. Now we’re having a Latte, at Coffee & Toffee – a place Tudor fell in love with, because it has a nice open terrace.
We’re happy to be here, Ecuador!!