Thursday 1 January 2015

Quito, and a happy new year!

The original plan was to spend a night in Quito, then head onwards to Colombia. Due to how long it took me to get to here, and with a flight from Nicaragua slated to leave on January 24th, Ecuador was unfortunately on the chopping block. While at times it can be very relaxing not to plan things ahead, over the past couple of weeks it really has come back to bite me, as I realised with a shock that in order to get to Colombia, I had the choice between a $550 plane journey or a $550 boat journey that would take a week, thus eating up my time even more. The three companies that fly from Colombia to Panama City have gotten together and agreed to have no competition, so they can collectively rise prices to optimal cockbag levels. It is cheaper for me to fly from Bogota to Rome than it is to fly to Panama City.

Luckily I was saved by my airline allowing me to change my ticket for $120 to leave from Bogota instead of Managua, so I now have more time to enjoy Ecuador and Colombia, and save money. I'll have to come back in a few years and spend time sailing around the Caribbean and Central America, which doesn't sound so bad.

Quito is spread north/south in a valley between enormous mountain ranges, and I've settled myself into the very pleasant Secret Garden Quito, which commands a breathtaking view out over the old town. Run by an Australian and his wife, they offer breakfast and dinner for decent prices, and unlimited Ecuadorian coffee, and really, that alone would be worth it for me. I'm such a coffee addict.

The old town was rightly so named the second ever UNESCO World Heritage site, on the same day as Krakow, and is peppered with beautiful churches and colonial buildings, but with a handful of chaotic driving and hectic Ecuadorian life. To the north of the old town lies 'gringoland', or the new town, where the high rises and the international restaurants are plentiful.

If you're looking for things to do, there is a free walking tour that leaves every day at 10:30 AM from Community Hostel in the New Town - ask for Ovi. The church pictured above is amazing to clamber around; they let you in and you're free to roam wherever you like, including across rickety wooden bridges and up ladders to reach the top of the tower. I was also lucky enough to stumble across a street party of some kind out of a side entrance:

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years celebration, I'm enjoying the gorgeous sunsets reflecting off the clouds that keep floating over the mountains here, illuminating the El Panecillo statue on the hill (the Virgin of Quito). Tomorrow it's off to Cotopaxi to see a volcano!


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