Planned on staying 3-4 weeks in Quito, Ended up staying just 11 nights. not that it hasn’t been a pleasant experience, generally ecuadorians have shown great hospitality and friendliness towards us, especially to Darwin. Quito, as we quickly realized, is too busty and cosmopolitan for our liking. That coupled with the pollution/ smog, we decided to not stay in Quito for longer than we need to and wanted to move on to another part of Ecuador. Furthermore, we we preferred spending more time on the coast where it’s warmer ( its been quite chilly in the evenings without central heating!).
We spent most of our days touring Quito, exploring its treasured colonial buildings and churches and visiting a few museums. We spent a couple of nights at colonial house hostal in old Quito, which allowed us the opportunity to explore the historic district. The colonial buildings and churches are so impressive, it is no surprise that Quito was declared a World UNESCO cultural heritage site.
Be forewarned, do not venture in this district past dark, it’s fairly dangerous (muggings)! We went out twice at night as naive tourists, and were given a warning from an expat on avoiding certain streets. A couple from the UK who were staying at our hostel were nearly mugged on their second day in old Quito, I felt terrible for them!
A few must dos in historic quito:
1. Grande plaza / government palace
2. San francisco church and plaza, and museum, circa 1550, oldest church in Quito and largest architectonic (whatever that means) complex in America. The inside is bordering guady and beautiful in Baroque style with its very intricate carvings and ornamentation.
3. La Ronda
4. El panecillo- a difficult climb when your at the 2nd highest capital in the world (2800m). It’s a hill located in the middle of the city at an altitude of 3016m. A monument of the Virgin Mary is located on top, standing 41m high.
5. Mercado public market- cheap eats and best bargains on fruits and veggies.
After exhausting ourselves exploring old Quito, we moved locations to la marsical, the entertainment district of Quito. La marsical is also known as gringo land since its teeming with tourists. It has many bars, restaurants, cafes and shops to entertain tourists, so we found the area better suited our needs. there are also la policia everywhere, so it’s fairly safe to venture out in the dark.
Things we did to keep entertained:
1. Telefirco – impossible to catch public transit to this place. We taxied there for $5. On the way back there’s a tourist shuttle that will stop off at certain districts in the city such as la marsical, for $1 pp. Also if you have children less than 2 years of age, they won’t allow them on the cable car. The telefirco is an aerial tramway on the east side of Pinchicha Volcano at about 4000m
2. Mitad de mundo, inan solar museo – take the blue line all the way to ofelia station, then a bus labeled mitad de mundo. Once you get off the round about at mitad, head north (if the monument is in front of you, head to your right) and walk along the busy road for about 200m. You’ll see a sign for the museum. This is where the real equator line is (latitude 0), not where the monument stands (and where you have to pay $2 to see).
4. Artisanal markets
5. Casa del cultura museo
6. Rugby match- we got extremely lucky with this. The Jaguars of Guayaquil were staying at out hostel and so it happened that we got a ride to watch them play. A real delightful bunch. We’ll definitely get in touch with them when we travel through Guayaquil in Jan.
The transportation system in Ecuador is absolutely amazing, cheap but not necessarily fast. Within the city the fare is $0.25; there are 3 major lines you can take (red, blue and green) and they are relatively simple to use. The buses are extremely rammed in rush hour (7-9am and after 1pm when school is out).
Darwin’s been a fairly easy traveller. Everything is new and unfamiliar territory so he is often preoccupied with exploring. That said, he still is crawling which makes things difficult to keep him clean ( hands, knees). I worry a great deal about his health and I cringe every time I see him suck his hands after crawling around common areas or pick things off the floor and place it in his mouth, ugh so gross! I also worry about food poisoning and have been diligent about cooking his food and providing purified drinking water. There’s also no routine for baby which I think is important in teaching a child discipline. He sleeps well throughout the night which is terrific, but meal times vathese pending on the day so feeding him on a schedule is difficult. A part of me tells me to relax and that I shouldn’t be so uptight, another part worries that Darwin is going to develop bad habits during meal time. On top of all these worries is his nutrition, luckily we found a decent iron fortified cereal (quinoa!) that I think easies my concerns and also I’m still breast feeding. yes, I know there are many worries! All I know that he’s been a content little boy since arriving in ecuador and that Tim & Darwin have really bonded, which I had hoped they would during our travels.