We are at Middle Earth!
We are in Quito, Ecuador which is the capital city with second highest elevation. They say that La Paz, Bolivia is the highest, but we have also heard it was Bogota, Colombia.
I am so thankful that our 14 hours of travel were without incidence or delays. The scariest time was the heavy turbulence on our descent into Quito when the plane was shaking and shuttering. To come so far and die in a plane crash landing in Quito was foremost in my mind. I hummed the Doxology.
The city of Quito was founded in a valley surrounded by beautiful green hills and the volcanic Andes mountains and now sprawls up and over the hills. It has a beautiful colonial historic center. There are some parks but the city isn’t exactly beautiful and the multitude of diesel buses spurt out billows of disgusting black smoke.
So far it has lived up to our expectations. The temperature is almost perfect and sort of springlike with fluffy cumulus clouds. It feels a little warm when exerting yourself in the full sun. I don’t think we have suffered any due to the elevation, although I did awake with a headache our first day.
Since we love our coffee and Ecuador is a coffee growing region we have been on a quest for a good cup of espresso. Unfortunately, its been hit and miss as we try to order the perfect cup of joe. On average the cost of two double espressos has been $3. This place took the cake as the bill including a piece of cake was $3. Last night we discovered a barista school and they pointed out their coffee shop which we decided to visit this morning. Prices weren´t posted so we were shocked by the bill. There were charges for everything including a 10% gratuity. Our three cups (I decided to go a for a second one) came to $10.75!!!
The prices of food are excellent if you stay away from the tourist zone and eat at the local eateries. Breakfast is included at our hotel and after snacks of coffee, pastries and fresh fruit plates we eat dinner out and it’s come to only $6-$7 for two good meals.
The city is clean and there is a huge police presence – driving motorcycles and trucks with their lights flashing, and although they wear bullet proof vests they are not carrying machine guns. Many of the businesses have uniformed security guards stationed out front. We haven’t seen any sign of pickpockets or beggars. There are those selling sunglasses on the streets and the street vendors selling snacks and chiclets, but not much begging.
It is very helpful understanding Spanish as well as I do, because most people are not English speakers.
To travel slowly without an agenda is nice. We don’t feel like we have to use every minute of the day to see all the sights. We have mostly wandered. Today we decided to take the day off so we could sleep in and do some research for the next leg of the journey – and update this blog!