Our long journey begins

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December 30th 2009
Published: January 4th 2010
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First day arriving in Quito Eric and I were both very tired. We had a little bit of a problem at the airport with getting into the country. Buying a one way ticket is not as easy as it sounds. After all our troubles and 15 hours of traveling we were ready to get to the hostel and sleep. We soon learned that our hostel was in a very unsafe place and we needed to change. We went to plaza de Foch and had dinner and found a hostel there. The next day was New Years Eve and the Ecuadorians start their fiesta early. Eric and I went to explore the old part of town, that was bustling with life as everyone had the day off for the new year. People gatherd to watch men dressed as women with huge stuffed breasts and butts dancing for a laugh and a few coins. They often stop cars dance, and ask for money. The main custom for NYE is the burning of effigies, or life-size stuffed dolls of everything from George Bush, policemen, to Homer Simpson. The streets are filled with smoke as they burn them all day and long into the night. We took a cab to the top of El Panecillo, a large mountain in the center of town wih an amazing view. Then as nigh fell, it was time for the parade. Everyone from the entire city, from age 1 to 100 walks up and down avenida Amazonas in the center of town dressed in costumes. NYE in Quito is much like a mix of Fourth of July and Halloween. Fireworks were going off everywhere and my shirt actually go a hole burned through it. As the crowd diminished we found a crowd dancing in a circle around a large bonfire in the street with an Andean flute band playing. At first we just watched but the people grabbed us and pulled us into the dancing circle. Everyone was chanting and clapping and it was very intense. We ended the night dancing to reggaeton in a large night club with a couple from Colombia we had met. On Saturday we went to Otavalo, a smalle town beside a lake with the world´s largest outdoor market. Arts, crafts, hats, clothes, and all kinds of smoking food made the 20 blocks of market very exciting. I bought the local hat known o the rest of the world, and mistakenly, as a "Panama" hat. We had trouble finding our way back on the buses in Quito and got off in a very sketchy neighborhood. We experienced our first robbery attempt by a group of kids no older than ten, but made it safely back to the hostel. We were relieved to leave Quito the next day and head to a smaller town, Banos at the base of the jungle.

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