Our second day in Quito dawned bright and sunny and early. We’re staying in the very centre of this huge, sprawling city of 3 million people… and we woke up to hear a rooster crowing nearby. Honking horns, shouting shop-owners, chattering children… all those sounds would have seemed appropriate for an early morning in a massive city. But a rooster? Where ARE we?
Our luggage has arrived from Madrid, which is probably more thrilling than it should be. I suddenly feel spoiled for choice when I pick out what to wear. I’m guessing the novelty of the 5 shirts I’ve packed will wear off very soon.
A wonderful and very funny cab driver recommended all sorts of Ecuadorian specialities to us yesterday, so this morning we set off in search of a proper local breakfast. We ate at the large, bright and clean Mercado Central. I’ll tell you more about the food in another post, but suffice to say… we’re not going to starve in South America. Massive portions of delicious food for very very little money? Yes, please.
After our breakfast we set off to explore the Old Town of Quito properly. We meandered through streets lined by beautiful Spanish-colonial style buildings painted in vivid colours. Quito is sometimes messy and smelly and a little intimidating, but it’s easy to see why it’s been designated a UNSECO world heritage site. It’s beautiful here. At one point Andy said to me, “It looks just like Barcelona.” And it did.
We made our way up to the cathedral (stopping off for a cup of 100% organic Ecuadorian coffee. Fiona… we miss you!!) and around to the shopping district. We’ve been warned by dozens of people that it’s not very safe in Quito and we’re bound to get something stolen. So, I didn’t carry ANYTHING with me today (literally, nothing… no money, no cards, no phone, no lip gloss! I was serious.) and Andy carried only our small point-and-shoot camera and a few dollars.
At no time did we feel uncomfortable or even very out of place. At one point, when Andy had the camera out, I saw a small boy watching him. If I was Charles Dickens, I would call this boy a “street urchin”… small and dirty and a bit wily. I saw him look at our camera, then look back at his mother and raise his eyebrow as if to say… “You see that? Let’s get it!” But, his mother smacked him on the back of the head, looked at me with embarrassment and they kept walking. Maybe it helps that Andy is about 6 inches taller than every single Ecuadorian? A woman in a cafe today called him “grande” which I took as a great compliment!
We went back to the Mercado Central for lunch. Again, cheap. Again, fresh and tasty and filling. In fact, so filling that after lunch we had to return to the hostel for a bit of a siesta. We read books and planned the next stages of our trip and watched the clouds roll in across the mountains. Then, around 4pm we went up to the terrace of the hostel to watch a massive thunder storm descend on Quito. Thunder boomed overhead, lightening danced off the mountain-sides and hail clicked and bounced off the rooftops. One of my favourite things about Andy is that he enjoys a good thunderstorm just as much as I do. And this was a good thunderstorm.
After the storm subsided we walked to a newly renovated neighbourhood for dinner and drinks. It had to be an early dinner as we’ve been warned to not be out and about after about 8pm. Apparently, it’s not safe. So we made sure we were safely tucked up in our hostel by about 7.30pm. Phew… just made it!
We leave tomorrow for Otavalo, a small market town about 2 hours north of Quito. We’ll be there through the weekend. I’ve typed up another few posts to go up here while we’re away. See y’all next week!