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Published: August 20th 2019
Greetings from Quito, capital city of Ecuador, and at 2,850 metres above sea level, it’s the second highest capital city in the world (after La Paz, Bolivia, at 3,640m). I arrived here after a comfortable 3.5 hour bus journey from Riobamba on Friday afternoon, although things haven’t really quite turned out as I expected…
My plan was to do Quito on Saturday, visit the nearby Cotopaxi volcano on Sunday, and take a trip to the actual equator which runs through Ecuador just north of Quito on Monday. Saturday’s plans went well, but unfortunately I ate something dodgy on Saturday afternoon, and came down with gastroenteritis on Saturday night. I have since been holed up in my lovely room in the Ibis Hotel, giving myself some much-needed down-time and TLC. I feel a little frustrated that I have not been able to do the Cotopaxi tour, which involves walking a glacier at 5000m, and mountain biking down hill, and also unable to have visited the equator in this part of the world, which I was looking forward to. But alas one cannot change these things, and no matter how much you try, I guess you can’t avoid falling
ill on such journeys. I should really count myself lucky, as despite all my travelling, the last time I fell so ill was a whole four years ago in India, and as I’ve come to realise, unfortunately sickness is a part and parcel of travelling in these parts of the world. It has also given me some time just to rest and relax, as although this adventure has been pretty much as long as most of my trips, I do feel I have been really busy and adventurous throughout it, and perhaps this is also my body telling me to slow down and get that necessary rest that I need.
While Saturday night was just awful, making trips to the toilet throughout the night every hour or so with hardly any sleep, and Sunday I slept most of the day, unable to do simple things like watching YouTube videos and playing my Nintendo 3DS, I started to feel better yesterday, which was reassuring. I am also pleased to have planned these four nights in the Ibis Hotel here in Quito, having found that my previous experiences of Ibis Hotels outside the UK have been astounding – very professional, calm,
La Virgen de Quito
El Panecillo, Quito
convenient and super-comfortable hotels. The staff on reception were really helpful in calling me a doctor on Sunday morning, who came within an hour and prescribed me with all sorts of medicines after giving me a really painful injection in the backside. I have also taken advantage of the hotel’s onsite restaurant, keeping myself nourished on chicken soup, melon and fizzy drinks for three days. And if I’m honest, it’s been nice to give my body such a break after such a busy time so far.
Thus, there are not many photos to upload in this one, as I’ve not really done so much in Quito, and this entry should also be a bit shorter…!
I can start I guess with the 15km taxi ride from the bus terminal in the south of the city to my hotel, which must have been with the oldest taxi driver I have ever encountered. He was a gentleman of about 80 years old, very friendly, but rather hard of hearing. It took me a while to explain to him where I would like to go and agree on a price, with the help of some of his colleagues as well. I
actually felt quite sorry for him, as surely a person of such age should not still be working in his life. The journey was slooooow – we must have gone about 15mph in the outside lane the whole way, being constantly undertaken by other taxis and cars going at about 40mph, many of them beeping and giving us dirty looks. An hour later we finally arrived – the hotel was right in front of us, but the gentleman couldn’t see it, and I had to insist a number of times for him to stop because we were there. I thanked my lucky stars that we had arrived safely and in one piece, and checked in to the delightful Ibis Hotel Quito, and a highly convenient, comfortable and cosy room.
For the rest of the day, I explored the nearby Mariscal area of Quito, the more modern centre of town, home to the city’s cafes, bars and nightlife, based around its central square called Plaza Foch (pronounced Fosh, by the way...). I found a couple of fantastic souvenir shops, based on locally made and fairly traded handicraft products, and made a couple of purchases to add to my rather large
collection so far. Aside from this, the Mariscal area felt really quite dodgy on this Friday night, with groups of people gathering to go out, lots of groups of young, not-so-nice-looking guys hanging around on street corners, and some overly attractive and made-up young ladies enticing people to go into the establishment that they worked for. I didn’t like the area, or the vibe, and was happy to return to my cosy hotel room for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning I had a lie-in, already quite tired from the trip, and not having had many lie-ins beyond 7.30am for a number of mornings now. It was lovely. After breakfast, I took a taxi to one of Quito’s more modern, and really quite stunning, attractions, the TeleferiQo. This is a cable car which takes visitors up from the already-high altitude of Quito to the upper slopes of nearby Pichincha Volcano at 3,945 metres. From the top of the cable car, you can additionally hike a four-kilometre round trip to the peak of the volcano and back, but there was no way I was doing this, as the altitude was already quite high and made me out-of-breath easily when
going uphill. The UK’s Foreign Office website also warns against this, given the high altitude and the fast-changing nature of conditions up there. Instead, I joined the rest of the people by simply enjoying the views all around, and seeing the long line of the city of Quito spreading out all the way below. The city is not a round-shape as in most cities, but a linear shape due to its spread along the Andean valley below. After this, I made my way back down again and enjoyed an hour of just walking about and watching the rides at the nearby Vulqano Park, a small theme park at the foot of the cable-car, packed with really quite exciting-looking rides. For the first time since watching a number of “slingshot ride” videos on YouTube back home before this trip, I came across such a ride here, called “La Catapulta”, and although I love going on most fairground rides, I don’t think I would ever catch myself on this one. I watched two pairs of people go through it, and felt nervous just watching them. I’m not sure a slingshot ride is something that I’ll be including on my adventures any time
I then took a taxi to the famous Plaza Grande, to take a walk around Quito’s Old Town. This involved a number of beautiful squares, churches and old colonial buildings. I also bumped into a fantastic pair of Welsh travellers I had met back in the Galapagos on the 360 tour of San Cristobal, so we enjoyed a drink together before we parted ways again. They carried on looking around town, while I took another taxi and headed up nearby El Panecillo, with the famous La Virgen de Quito statue on the top overlooking the Old Town below. I enjoyed climbing up to the viewpoint on the statue and the beautiful views below, this time more of the Old Town of Quito where I had just walked around previously.
Following this, I took another taxi back to my hotel, and made the (fateful) decision of having a pre-dinner snack in the form of some kind of hot-dog at a nearby petrol station’s swanky-looking eatery. I normally choose my meals very carefully whilst travelling, to obviously avoid such tummy troubles, and this place looked no different from other places I’d eaten in. I guess some things you can’t
control, and again, I guess from experience, getting ill once in a while whilst travelling really is part and parcel of the adventure – much as I wish it weren’t, it seems no-one is immune.
So despite missing out on some further adventures, and feeling really very rough for the first 24 hours, I believe I should be thankful that I was able to see a doctor so easily, and to have recovered from it so quickly.
My time in Quito certainly hasn’t been as I had expected it to be, but I guess that’s part of the whole travelling thing – to expect the unexpected. This evening I fly once more back to Lima for three more nights there, this time in another Ibis Hotel in the swankier part of town called Miraflores. I don’t plan to do too much during my time there, simply explore Miraflores and nearby Barranco, and continue with this winding down of my journey. I think I’ll realise it more when I’m back home, but I really have packed quite a bit into my adventure this year, perhaps again this has been my body’s way of telling me to simply slow down,
Ibis Hotel, Quito
View from my room
I fly back to London on an overnight flight on Friday evening, arriving back on Saturday afternoon, probably quite tired. I thus plan to write up my final entry on this trip this coming Sunday, to relate my final days in Lima, and perhaps to put down some concluding, end-of-trip thoughts for what has really been quite a big one.
So until the next and final time for this trip, thank you for reading, and all the best.
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