Lovely pinks, purples, and a giant yolk of a sunrise bid us farewell Monday morning as we left Rhode Island. It was an inspiring mental snapshot to carry with me. Ill try to think of that moment, rather than hugging a very teary anxious mother at the terminal, when I think back to our departure.
We shared the plane ride to Quito with a woman my dad and I agreed was the Ecuadorean twin of my gramma Eileen. Something about her focused expression and nervously folded hands – or maybe it was her denim attire and confident steady gait walking onto the plane- gramma, if you’re reading this, you’ve got a spirit sister in Ecuador!
From the airplane, Quito better resembled a glacier than a metropolis due to the dense cloud cover that completely shrouded our view. After circling 5 or 6 times, our captain announced unexcitedly that we would land in the coastal city of Guayaquil instead- all flights landing in Quito were being diverted due to the inclement conditions. A few hours later, after some nail biting and a fuel change in Guayaquil, we were on the ground in Quito, where our incredibly kind taxi driver had waited 2 and a half hours for our late plane!
Danilo drove us through the mountainous passage from the new airport to Quito on roads that put the most treacherous stretches I’ve driven in Idaho to shame. One hairpin turn after another, we ascended the pothole ridden and strangely police infested mountain roads and into the valley Quito lies snugly in.
When we arrived at the apartment we had one small problem- we couldnt seem to get in. A malfunctioning Master Lock, the slightly nutty security guard at our apartment, and my struggling (read: mostly useless) spanish nearly had my dad hailing another taxi back to the airport and taking the next flight to Boston. Helpless and potentially homeless in an unfamiliar city, the guard and i attempted bits of spanglish and pathetic hand motions with each other for 15 minutes or so. Of course the solution to getting into our apartment was embarrassingly obvious. after 19 hours of traveling, we split a cerveza, made an admirable attempt at dinner with what we could scavenge from the pantry, and slept very. Very. Well.
I’m looking forward to the later part of my trip when ill be traveling solo for sure, but it sure is nice to have my dad as company. Today we spent the day exploring the historical center of Quito, where our apartment is (we rented an apartment through a site called Home Away).
We headed out early and watched the city slowly open up as the sun rose in a crystal clear sky. School children trudging on their way to class and fruit vendors robotically reciting their days sales were the sounds of the early morning. But By 11, throngs of quiteños and visitors had filled the main streets greeting one another, whizzing through traffic on motorbikes, or grabbing an early morning ice cream (my kind of snack).
Enjoying the spring like weather that is typical of Quito, we acquainted ourselves with the neighborhood, ambling about and taking many a long-cut up steep passages and narrow cobble stoned corridors.
We also did some historical touring/sight seeing. We ascended the jarring ly high clock tower of the Basílica del Voto Naciónal, toured the an ornate cathedral in Quito, the gilded el Compañía de Jesús (whose walls boast 52 kilograms of gold), and spent some time in the museum and monestary of San Francisco. We even saw a monk.
Though touring these places was a great lesson in the colonial and religious history of Quito, I have to say I’m glad were only dedicating a day or so to these types of activities. Id much rather spend time appreciating the natural beauty this country is gifted with than the elaborate man made monuments. Mountains are more sacred to me than ornate cathedrals.
Lucky for me, tomorrow we do just that…!