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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Quito

The bus ride from Otavalo to Quito isn't too long, a few hours but long enough for me to really need a bathroom by the end. That was one element of the discomfort on that ride. The other was the horrible movie played at painful volume. It was about a psycho who liked to abduct teenage girls and kill them. Right at the big climax point, it just stopped. Whew! But the other passengers were not happy and started to shout out, "la pelicula! la pelicula!" the movie, the movie. The drivers assistant (there's always a drivers assistant) fiddled with the DVD player a bit, then shrugged and went back up front. I wasn't disappointed, though I'll confess that part of me wanted to find out what happened. We finally reached the terminal and I was very relieved. The last bit was excruciating. After a blessed bathroom stop, I got a cab to to town and found my airbnb. I was earlier than expected, waited a long time for someone to attend to me. A guy came along and let himself in and I trailed after him. He said he'd let someone know I was waiting there. I could hear a woman talking and talking on the phone and after a long while she came downstairs and introduced herself as Beatriz, the mother of Miguel Angel, the guy who posted on airbnb. She seemed nice enough but said the room wasn't ready and could I come back in a couple of hours. I really wasn't happy about that but was hungry so went and had some breakfast at a place next door. It was a nice looking little restaurant, Rocoto, on a little plaza where all of the surrounding buildings were decorated with wildly colourful, exotic paint jobs.

The breakfast was predictably disappointing but I never fail to get my hopes up. I just don't know what it is with both Colombia and Ecuador's cuisine. The standard is so low and people seem content to eat the same things over and over. And they're quite proud of their gastronomia. Often, when I talk to locals, they ask how I like the food in Ecuador, clearly expecting a positive response. I always praise it.

When I returned to my lodgings, the room was ready and was actually very nice. It was an old house but had obviously been lovingly cared for and the rooms were beautifully renovated and very modern.

Mine had a nice outlook over the little plaza from three floors up and was bright and cheery.there was also a nice little terrace with nice views:

It quickly became evident that Beatriz was really the host here. During my four day stay I saw Miguel Angel once for a few minutes. He didn't live there. But Beatriz was wonderful. My new mother in Quito. She is worldly and cultured, her house full of art and beautiful objects.

 

Ample evidence of her intelligence and education was the fact that 40 years ago she got a full scholarship to architecture school in Florence! And could she talk! She just went nonstop. My first night there I was invited downstairs to her birthday party but, being very tired, I declined. Now I regret not having gone. And I might just as well have as it was pretty noisy with exuberant singing going on until late. I did join her next night for another birthday celebration for her and her friend, a more sedate affair, and I played a little for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quito has a fledgling bicycle culture, a small bike sharing system, some bike lanes and my visit coincided with Ciclopaseo, their weekly bike Sunday.

 

A few kilometres of streets are closed to cars and a few people turn out but after Bogota, it seemed quite sedate.

Check out the home made dog carrier
 
A different spin
 

But it's a start and Bogota is a tough act to follow. Adjacent to the bike rental place is the 165 acre Parque La Carolina, Quito's version of Central Park so, before returning the bike, I rode around this huge park.

The weather was beautiful and scads of people were out enjoying the day in various ways.

After returning the bike, I caught the TroleBus, an electric trolley bus, one of the types of bus transit used, to the magnificent old town. Quito's large and beautifully preserved historic centre shared the honour of being UNESCO's first historic cultural site with Kraków.

On Sundays it really jumps.

Lots of the streets are closed off to cars and crowds of people flock to the plazas and car-free streets to see the street performers, snack on street food and just hang out.

There he is again

 

 

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