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Published: June 11th 2009
The 'I am Legend' of South America. This city is decently safe by day, but everyone swears by how dangerous it is at night. It was only fitting that when we arrived, the movie some fellow travelers were watching was 'I am Legend', a movie about zombies that come out at night, but a city that is perfectly safe during the day. Our guidebook mentioned how dangerous everything was, "take a taxi at night, even for trips as short as a few blocks", other travelers in Peru mentioned that it was best to only venture out during the day, and our taxi driver (from the bus terminal) commented that we were staying in "a very dangerous neighborhood". When we asked were he thought we could stay that was safer, he answered "nope, they are all pretty dangerous." Good, maybe the muggers would spread out throughout the city. Per Matt , the Australian hostel owner, the police have just recently started addressing the issue. Throughout our stay, we saw a whole lot of police. Usually in groups of 3 or 4, speaking with each other. But hey, at least they were there. One of our dorm mates had been 'rushed' by 3
Swearing in for new military recruits
thieves who grabbed his camera and other items. He then proceeded to chase after them, and through the process of yelling and screaming, attracted about a dozen police within a minute. They circled the group and returned his items. Upon arrival at the police station to process the paperwork, they proceeded to rough up the group and assured him that they would be dealt with. As for as a tourist experience goes, they did take care of the situation. As far as police brutality...?
We stayed at Hostel Revolution, a great spot right between the old city and the Mariscal district. Matt, the Australian owner was great. He made sure we were all oriented, and made the place feel like a family home (which it was). with a max capacity around 15, it certainly had that family feel to it.
I throughly enjoyed Quito's Old Town. Wondering the plazas was really nice, and we caught what initially looked like a bunch in inmates surrounded by police but then realized it was a swearing in ceremony for the military. Hey, look at the pics, the mistake was an easy one. The ceremony was complete with old uniforms, lots of
police, the band etc. Made for a nice stop on our way to the Franciscan monastery. The monastery was nice, but the most interesting room, a ornately carved choir loft, was off limits to photos. I would have taken one anyway, but they had two security cameras. So, that will just have to be a must be there to see it sight. Justin and I spent a whole day sightseeing, crisscrossing the old town. We saw a few police officers walk out of a whole in the wall restaurant with carry out, and decided to head in for lunch. Cops always know the good places.
We were finally able to take care of our yellow fever vaccine. Price in the USA? $150. Price in Ecuador? Gratis! We just needed to pay $10 for a international documentation fee so we could get our internationally recognized form. Not a bad deal. I won't bore you all with the details, but if anyone wants to know where to get it, send me a note. One is supposed to avoid drinking alcohol for ten days (that is what they told us). We made it about 6 hours, maybe less for Justin. We are
both doing fine. Oddly enough, we had some fantastic Chinese food at a place close to the hostel that was completely run by locals. They gave us so much, for the fist time in the trip, we had to get a container to store the leftovers. Since the hostel had a kitchen, that worked out fine. Sweet and Sour pork makes for a great breakfast. Even better when watching CNN update the world on the swine flu. I think the network had taken retarded journalism to new levels while covering the 'Pandemic' that.... after talking with the 'expert', is not that serious. But, it could take a turn for the worse, so stay tuned to CNN for more info! I stayed tuned to Ratatouille, the 2007 pixar flick on the Parisian rat the cooks. Loved it. The hostel had several hundred pirated DVDs, so we had a nice selection of recent releases. I felt very patriotic, watching ripped DVDs while spending my tax refund in Latin America. Why won't the US economy get better?
The next day, we took it easy for the first part, went up the cable car to overlook Quito. Once we got there, we found
out that that prices had doubled since the printing of our guidebook, but only for 'foreigners'. If you were local, and didn't bring your money from another country, you got to pay less. Can't say I recommend the site. Aside from their ripoff the tourist pricing, the location for the lookout point is blocked by a hill with a bunch of Radio towers on it. Better to spend the money elsewhere. Which we did, once we got back to the hostel and found that the 'family' of other tourists wanted to go out for the night. OK by us. We went back to the old town with a group of 10 to grab dinner and a few drinks. 2 Americans, 1 Canadian, a Brit, 2 Dutch, 2 Aussies 2 Germans and I. One of the Americans had a bottle of Peach local something in her purse. It was only 21% by volume, and was really tasty. Our table, with everyone except the Germans and Dutch polished off the bottle in 10 minutes. So she got some more stuff, that was horrible. I took a sniff and passed. And passed, and passed. It was rather interesting watching a group of adults
ages 24-34 make faces while downing the horrid liquid. And then even more interesting watching them completely hammered. Justin and the American gal did a good job of chatting up the owner, who was well on his way of getting trashed as well. Andy the Australian and I got seconds on our spaghetti, and then a free appetizer after dinner. Then Andy, who was really feeling the effect of the booze got into a decorative hanging chair and it feel down from the ceiling. The staff were not the least bit phased. But in case they were phased, we found out that another feature that was indicative of the security situation in Quito was a panic room. Yes, the restaurant had a 'Emergencia' button in the restroom. If needed, the entire staff can run in their and press the button for help.
After this, 'Nick the Brit' and I headed back, while Justin and the rest of his drinking team explored the Mariscal district. The previous night I had watched Defiance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defiance_(2008_film). I always enjoy thought provoking movies, and this was no exception. After a few drinks in my system, I decided to finish Michael Moore's "documentary" Sicko.
It was interesting to see it in the context of the health care debate going on currently.
After looking into bus ticket prices, we settled on buying a ticket to fly to Bogota, saving ourselves two and a half days of transit. Must say, Avianca (the national airline of Colombia) has great service. I would not be surprised if they emerged as a major carrier in Latin America (they do have orders, that, over the course of the next five years, will double the number of planes they fly).
Thus we left Ecuador, and flew into country #4, the last of South America.
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