Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ecuador, Part 1: Quito

With any of our international trips, there is an initial settling in period, a time when we (well, I) adjust to the schedule, the daily pace of life, the food.  It's the gray between the black and white, the point where I'm neither entirely immersed in the foreign country nor entirely detached from my daily life.  Ecuador was different.

Part of this may be due to the fact that we did not have any jet lag to deal with. Part of it was due to our accommodations, part of it was sheer luck. We spent three nights in Quito, which was phase one of our three phase adventure, and jumped right into life in Ecuador.  Quito, like many European cities, is laden with history.  Quito is lovely and peaceful, but it's bustling and gritty.  It's busy and loud and worlds away from anything we are used to.  I loved it and I was ready to leave by the time we packed our bags.  In short, Quito was a unique experience.

We spent our first full day in Quito exploring the old town; we visited La Iglesia de San Francisco, La Compania de Jesus, the Basilica, and La Plaza de Independencia.  In the evening, we enjoyed a traditional meal, including locro de papa (Ecuadorean potato soup) and llapingacho (potato pancakes served with egg and chorizo).  From our room, we watched - and listed - to the lively city's night life.

On our second full day in Quito we ventured into the mountains. It's been a while since I've been at altitude, but both Brian and I managed to stave off an altitude issues, well other than being short of breath while making steep ascents.  We rode the TeleferiQo to the valley just below the Pichincha volcano.  We initially considered summiting, but did not summit due to weather coming in and the desire to preserve our legs and sea level lungs.  As the thick and dark clouds rolled in and blanketed the volcano in a sea of grey, we finished our four mile hike; the view was wonderful and it was great to be outside, to be in the sun, to be warm on Christmas Eve.  We made our way back to Quito and caught a ride up the hill to El Panecillo, the hill atop which the winged statue of the Virgin Mary sits.  We closed out our time in Quito with a visit to a highly recommended restaurant, which blends traditional Ecuadorean dishes and Cajun cooking (the owner emigrated from the US).  Our meals were good, the calle upon which the restaurant was located was lovely and quite, a rarity in Quito, and the people - watching was top notch.  Later in the evening, from our open apartment window, we watched Christmas Eve fireworks above the Basilica.  What an amazing parting gift from the city! 

In all, we enjoyed Quito.  We had just enough time to see what we wanted to see and what was recommended.  Phase two of our adventure was sure to be a change of pace -- and scenery -- more to come on that soon.  

Until then, as they say, "Hasta  la vuelta, until next time."

Palacio de Gobierno
Iglesia de San Francisco 

La Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus 

Plaza de Independencia 

Day 2 - una iglesia 

El Panecillo

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