As we arrived in Quito, Ecuador we were met by rain. We headed off toward Quito and immediately I was surprised by how few people were on the highway considering it was rush hour. This all changed though as we hit the city centre! We wound our way up and down severe hills - after all, we are now in the Andes. The roads were packed with cars all vying for the same turns and lanes. Police officers guided traffic as there were very few lights but we arrived safely at our flat.
It was lovely! We were met outside by Maria and Luis, a lovely elderly couple who took care of our 'Home Away' flat. They met us with umbrellas, Luis grabbed Avery's bag and began to haul it up the stairs to our flat - all 4 flights of stairs! The first thing we saw when we went in was our incredible view. Our flat overlooked the city, which was nestled within the valley and creeping up the sides of the surrounding Andes. The mountains were shrouded in fog and cloud. High on a hill, overlooking the city was a statue of the Virgin Mary (the only one that depicts her with angel wings). Instantly I fell in love. As many of you asked, prior to our departure, whether I was excited about leaving on our trip. I always answered, "I haven't really had time to think much about it. More than likely, I'll probably have a moment a few weeks in when I finally realize that we are truly doing this." Well, this might have been that moment.
We went for dinner just across the street. It was here I realized that we truly were on our own and immersed in a completely different culture. As Dave has described it, we are flying without a net now. Up until now we have been in somewhat touristy areas. The food was pretty similar to what we are used to, we could get on ok with our 'Spanglish' and didn't really have to think too carefully about safety. Now, we weren't able to drink the water (which impacts what we are able to eat in restaurants as well), we need to be wary of where we are at certain times of day (and where we park our rental car) and finally, we have to use as much Spanish (and Google Translate) as we can. It was a lovely evening though, as we were the only ones in the restaurant. We had a space heater (going from +30 with 80% humidity to 13 and rain was tough), an incredible view and an evening with great conversation. We all went to bed to the sound of croaking frogs from the garden outside. I was so excited to go and explore the next day.
We were awoken the next morning to church bells at 6:45, 7:00 and 7:15 am. Sounds idyllic doesn't it? Well, I also awoke with a raging headache, pressure behind my eyes and in my chest and the nagging feeling of nausea. Altitude sickness and it was awful. All I saw of Quito was through that window for the next 2 days.
Although I was't able to go out, Dave and the girls did. It was interesting to hear how their perspectives of Quito changed over the course of the 2 days. The first day the girls came home hating Quito. In their minds it was dirty, stinky and had graffiti everywhere. Also, the girls felt that they were being 'stared at a lot'. Well, that's what happens when you have blonde and auburn hair in South America. It was a little taste of being the visible minority - it was a great conversation to have with them. As well, everyone was adjusting to the high altitude and not feeling their best. Located high on a hill, there were A LOT of stairs no matter where you wanted to go and everyone had trouble getting up a flight without losing their breath. The second day though, everyone came back far more positive about their experience and the city. They had spent the day exploring cathedrals and plazas in old town Quito. The girls and Dave loved it! A good lesson - give things time, come to know it better and you may have a different perspective.
Despite my days in bed, there are many special memories I will have Quito.
The day we left Quito I was feeling better and SO ready to explore. We were headed to Mita del Mundo, or the equator at the Middle of the Earth Monument. It was a great day! The Ecuadorians have created an entire 'village' around the monument. Highlighting the culture and ways of life of Indigenous groups within the various regions of Ecuador, there were stores, restaurants, museums, cultural villages and playgrounds. There were also great exhibits with hands on opportunities to learn about the history of the equator, as well as the impact of magnetism, gravity and the Coriolis Effect on the earth and in relation to the equator. It was way more than we could take in during our afternoon. We have been so fortunate to have been able to visit both the Equator and Prime Meridian within the last 6 months. Such map geeks we are!
Despite it being a relatively cloudy day, we also all got sunburned. Being at the equator, the sun's intensity sure is felt. We'll have to keep this in mind as we venture to the Galapagos Islands next week!
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).