Hello Ecuador

I must admit I nearly shed a tear on our last day up the mountain at Breckenridge. It says something about the place that after 3 months Tim and I both said we will definitely be back! It has been the first place since the start of our travel that we both said we could see ourselves spending a lot of time there. Mostly due to the snow but also the people and the town were great!

Saying that we were both ready to start out next 3 month adventure from Ecuador to Cuba and everything in between. We haven’t planned anything, other than a vague mud map of the countries we want to visit and for roughly how long. But that is how we like it and find it very exciting discovering the path we will eventually take!

So after another brief stop in Miami we were on our way to Quito in Ecuador. We had lucked out with the accommodation that we booked staying in a very cute hostel in the Old Town and we seem to be the only guests staying at the moment. Mostly because it is now off season here as it is rainy season. They also emailed us and told us that for the cost of a taxi ride they would come and pick us up and drive us to the hostel. So upon arrival we had a man with a placard with Sarah O’Keeffe written on it! Very exciting as this is the first time this has happened to me!

I must admit we both didn’t seem super pumped to be starting our next adventure but as soon as the plane started circling Quito and we went for our first wander around the wonderlust definitely kicked in for both of us. 

The old town is a combination of old colonial buildings, churches, parks and squares. Similar to that of Cusco but not as polished. One thing we had forgotten about in South America was that we stick out like a sore thumb! Being white, both ridiculously taller than the population and me with freckles makes for a lot of stares!

The first day we took a leisurely stroll around and then we hit the street La Ronda at night. Apparently it was the old Boho street back in the day and it has been wonderfully restored. Being Saturday night it was pumping with people mingling up and down the street and restaurant’s music blasting out onto the street. We managed to score a great table at a restaurant listening to the street music while looking at La Virgin De Quito Statue which is placed on a hill in the middle of old town, drinking the local drink called Canelazo and eating ceviche. Canelazo is a spirit made from cane sugar served with hot cider and cinnamon. It put hairs on your chest but was quite delicious! 

The next day we got up and went on a trip up the TeleferiQo (cable car) which takes you up the old volcano Pichinha to 4100m for wonderful views over the city. As we were in our ascent the clouds came in and you couldn’t really see much. But there were a whole heap of walking trails to do as well so off we went. The scenery was really eery with no trees, clumps of grass, moss and peat. It reminded Tim a lot of Scotland. Even though we have now been at altitude for a good 5 months we still had to take it pretty slow. As were on our way back to the cable car the clouds parted and we got to see glimpses of Quito. 

Our next stop was the Basilica. Although not as finished as some churches I found it really fascinating and quite gothic looking. We paid to climb up the spires and got some fantastic views. We also found out that you could cross the rooftop on a wooden bridge inside the church but above the internal ceiling, then climb up a rather steep ladder to an even taller spire. We did that but Tim drew the line at then climbing two external ladders to reach the highest point of the church. I pretended I wanted to go up there but told Tim I wouldn’t because he didn’t want me too, but really I was also thinking that was a little hairy and was equally as not keen as Tim! 

After our epic morning walk we decided to head on over to the Central Mercado for some local tasty treats! We were not disappointed. We had been recommended by our hostel lady to try Don Jimmy’s ceviche which just happened to come with a bowl of potatoes and fried fish! It was sooo much food for a mere $5. We both could have shared one. This market is laid out differently to the others we have been to where everyone was selling the same thing. Here all the food vendors were selling slightly different things and in between each stall is a drinks stall selling jugs of fresh fruit drinks made with a base of coconut milk. Unusual but very tasty.

Once we rolled out of there we headed over to the Artesian market. They had the most wonderful alpaca blankets with beautiful designs on them. I think by the time we leave Ecuador I will have purchased a few.

What I did splash out on was an original Panama hat, which is actually made in Ecuador. Apparently there are a few versions as to why they are called Panama hats instead of Ecuadorian hats. Look it up! I found out recently from Tim’s parents that the way to tell a true Panama hat is to see if they can be rolled up and when unrolled they take their original shape. So with my pigeon Spanish which is mostly charades I soon found out that the really cheap “Panama hats “could not be folded and was shown to the much better quality ones. The difference in texture and weave was quite prominent. Look out for future posts with me showing it off! S

   

A view of the Virgin De Cuito statue during the day. As you can see the old toen’s streets are truly beautiful.
  

This street is just around the corner from our hostel. I absolutely love the different coloured facades.

  

The first nights views from our restaurant table.
  

This is the view from the hostels rooftop bar. We think this is one of our favourite hostels we have ever stayed at. The hostel owner we have since discovered is a retired bull fighter who trains others in bullfighting (well we think he coaches others as our Spanish is equally as bad as his English or he could just have random pictures of him and bull fighters on the wall!)

  

The street La Ronda at night
  

This was taken on our walk from the cable car. I wish I could say this was a native tending his flock. But in reality it was a fat tourist who couldn’t walk up the hill. The funny thing was that his mates were past us on the next rise but his horse refused to go any further so he had to stay there waiting for them!

  

Another shot from our walk. As you can see the clouds are pretty low.
  

The horses waiting for the tourists.

  
  

On the road to nowhere.
    

Once the clouds cleared, a view of Quito

  

The basilica. So immense we had to put the fish eye on 
    

The inside of the Basilica. I loved the simplicity of the brick built into beautiful archways

   

Underneath the basilica are rows and rows of catacombs. Like most of South America they stack their dead on top of each other. Saves on space I suppose. It started to freak me out as I kept thinking all I was breathing in was dead people. 

  

The view from the top of the spire (the tallest one we climbed anyway)

 
    

Ecuadorean version of Mr Whippy! 😂 I love ice cream a lot but was even to scared to get one from here
  
    

 The epic lunch from Don Jimmys 

  
Another great view on the way home.

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