Quito is a heady cocktail of braun and beauty. We spent a week there being confronted with its contrasting charms.
On arrival we took the obligatory ride in a cable car to see the entire city from above. It looks spectacular sitting in a dip within the mountain tops, partly due to its huge size and partly due to the collision between man-made habitat and Mother-made nature.
We stayed in a rougher part of town as the nicer areas were out of budget or too far away from where we wanted to be. However the hostel we stayed in was great (La Casa Tolena) – massive corner room with our own balcony and friendly owners.
The old town has an abundance of beautiful buildings which you can visit for free or very little money. It also has an abundance of armed police officers and prostitutes. The prostitutes, particularly the transsexual women, appear to have had lots of sub-standard plastic surgery. We didn’t see any crime being committed but there was a tense, edgy feel to the city centre.
We took a top-up Spanish lesson whilst there and were generously lectured by our tutor on the narrow-mindedness of Europeans not wanting to visit South America. We were criticised for opting not to go to Venezuela; the country with the second highest murder rate in the world and which is currently experiencing a peak in violence due to civil unrest.
Whilst here we bumped into Stuart and Lucy, a lovely and very funny couple from Manchester who we first met in Peru. We took the opportunity to venture into the Foch area together, which is a newer part of town also popular with backpackers. There are lots of modern and pricey bars but we managed to find a cheaper American dive bar where we ordered too many chicken wings and washed them down with plenty of happy hour drinks (soda for me). It was great to see some friendly faces again – we took this picture to mark the occasion and promised to stick them on this blog. Job done.
Quito is a complicated place because of the strange mix but if you’re in Ecuador you should definitely check it out for yourself.