On Top of the World in Quito

11 Nov

We arrived in Quito yesterday afternoon, feeling completely exhausted from our four-flight journey. After exploring the area around our hostel and grabbing a bite to eat (using our rather pathetic knowledge of the Spanish language), we napped for a while, which turned into an extended nap, which became sleeping through to the next morning. The benefit was waking refreshed and jet lag-free.

A few things we noticed immediately: dogs are either fully dressed in sweaters and boots, or they’re tiny adorable puppies being hawked on street corners. Any other kind of dog does not exist, to really generalize canine culture in Quito.

The locals like to play it fast and loose when it comes to crossing the streets and walking into fast-moving traffic. Having been hit by a car only a few months ago, this puts me on edge slightly. Another traffic observation: the crosswalk signs play a loud, upbeat tune and look like they’re doing the running man. And this makes me very happy.

First thing this morning we headed to La Teleferiqo, a gondola that takes you up Pichincha Volcano, 13,000 feet above sea level and gives you a breathless, bird’s eye view of Quito. It was incredible to see the immediate change in weather when we arrived at the top: the temperature obviously dropped, and there were massive hoards of fog moving along the mountainside, slowly engulfing you, then quickly evaporating. We read so much about altitude sickness and were warned not to ascend Teleferiqo until we had acclimatized to Quito for a couple days, but we had no issues, even after climbing to a small peak after the gondola ride.

Later that afternoon, back in the city, we spent our requisite tourist time of non-religious reverie in a local church, Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco. It was by far one of the most ornate, gold-encrusted interiors I’ve ever seen. We overheard a guide telling her lemmings that beneath the church floorboards lies an extensive graveyard: “Yes, very scary,” she said, probably making the kid in the group cry. Also beneath the church, a little cave-like pub that was the perfect spot to escape the late-afternoon showers. It seems to stay warm (~19C) and sunny/cloudy for the most part, then breaks into showers that increase with intensity, ending up in full rain by about 4 or 5 pm. Yes, from two days here, I have mastered the weather patterns. If this were Twitter, I would hashtag that sentence with “ignorant.”

Since Quito isn’t the safest place as night, we retire to our hostel by the time it’s dark out. Tomorrow morning we head to the Galapagos at 8 am, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.


One Response to “On Top of the World in Quito”

  1. Peggy Tee 11/11/2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Have fun in the Galapagos! Amazing part of the world.

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