Quito

The city in the clouds. From the airport we wound our way through the fog at one in the morning into the sleepy town of Quito. Under the watchful eye of the virgin of immaculate conception we unloaded into our hostel. The smells of the panaderia nearby wafted into my nostrils along with a heavy wave of nostalgia transporting me back 14 years to my last stint in South America. I wasn’t expecting such a visceral memory and tears welled up in my eyes. Our room at the Community Hostel was on the third floor and was pretty much all windows looking out towards the Basilica de la Vota Nacional, a neo-gothic church made famous by its syncretic use of local flora and fauna in its architecture, for instance, in  place of gargoyles condors and tortoises keep gaurd.       We of course hit the ground running, with a three-hour walking tour starting at 10:30. Rio slept in the ergo like a champ as we explored the highest capital city in the world. Rio, in fact, has been a champ the entire time. He is a little more easily bothered when Mamacita leaves the room, however if she is in sight he is making friends fast and sure and we have already been given a phone number from a local woman at breakfast for a play date!    We have already  been faced with some of the, shall I say, joys of travel? First thing we did upon arrival is give Rio a drink of water offered to us, only to immediately freak out because we were not told if it was filtered or not, thankfully it was and our trip will continue as planned. Next, our iPad was disabled while traveling which I will tell you has almost made me swear off Apple forever, as I spent an entire day visiting internet cafes to fix it. Lastly, tonight we took a taxi that didn’t have the “safe” orange license plate and after Melissa and Rio unloaded the driver promptly kept driving with me still inside. Melissa was certain that a kidnapping had just taken place and I was uncertain exactly what was happening, turns out, he was only finding a better spot to pull over out of the way of traffic, it just happened to be around the corner well out of sight from Mel and Rio.

Over all though we are adjusting quickly and it is joy to be out of our comfort zone and facing new learning environments. We are already getting a sense of how the exploration section of our trip will need to have  a slower pace and we are glad that most of our time here will be spent in one location. Banos is next on the list where we are told we will find waterfalls and hot springs!

Note: All text highlighted in blue leads to a link with more information about that place or activity.

Checklist

Travel Desk

I thought it might interest some people to see what a to do checklist might look like for preparing to travel. Here is ours to date:

Accomplished:

  • Get River’s passport – We had two babies with us as we waited 2 hours at the post office for a very flustered postal worker to receive our application (note: locations to drop off passport applications vary from city to city, in Denver select post offices provide the service).
  • Investigate Visa needs. (Ecuador is free for the first 90 days)
  • Get immunizations (covered on the previous blog)
  • Find clean water solution ( We bought a Steri-Pen Ultra, the one that you can re-charge. It’s heavier but you don’t have to worry about batteries -better for traveling when you have electricity, worse for doing treks etc.)
  • Buy tickets- We missed the best deals by a week and so ended up paying 900 each. Also, we bought the insurance from US Airways to cover the trip because it was cheaper then buying it with our travelers insurance. Since we will be checking luggage we thought it worth our while.
  • Get travelers insurance- we went with International Medical Group because they had an affordable adventure sports rider which I will need if I want to be covered when I climb Cotopaxi
  • Meet with Dave and Josh and Ellie to discuss their experiences in Ecuador- They were both very helpful. Thanks guys!

Pending

  • Finalize packing list -we are still figuring out exactly what is coming and staying I will post a blog with our finalized packing list.
  • Book first couple nights in Quito -I’m still looking for our best Hostel option. It’s obviously going to cost us a little more with an infant, as we will be needing private rooms. It looks like somewhere around $30 a night is going to be typical. $20 a night is our goal, sin pulgas.
  • Put car insurance on “storage only” -We can save almost $60 a month by changing our auto insurance policy.
  • Cancel monthly subscriptions- we don’t have many but we will save $30 a month.
  • Look into cell phone usage in Ecuador- Some countries all you need is an adapted sim card and you can use your phone, I need to investigate this more.
  • Get electric adapters: my guess is everything runs on 220 so we may need adapters.
  •  Practice Spanish -I’ve been listening to Radio Ambulante which is kind of a Spanish version of This American Life. I’ve also been watching Dare Devil on Netflix because you have the option of watching it in Spanish. I did break open the text book as well….but I’m reluctant to read it.
  • Figure out Electronics: we need to decide on cameras and some sort of computer device, not sure if it will be the IPAD or an old heavy computer or maybe just smart phones (a friendly reminder of how much privilege we have).

And that about sums it up for now! next up will probably be our packing list. Cheers.