Quito, Ecuador

I made my March Madness picks last Wednesday while in Mindo.  I might as well have made them in Spanish in the dark considering where I’m at in the family group standings as I write this Sunday afternoon.  Even Ashley who had picked K-State to win it was knocked out in the first round and she’s ahead of me right now.

I also ran across a picture I took from the third floor balcony of a hostel on the corner of the Plaza de Ponchos in Otavalo on the Saturday of the market.

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What this doesn’t show is all the booths that are set up along most of the side streets that enter the Plaza.  This is the group that is usually there Monday through Saturday with extra ones in the street.  It is, by far, the largest market I saw.

Anyway,  I arrived in Quito yesterday, Saturday, about noon.  I got a taxi from the bus station to a location in the Mariscal Sucre section that had been recommended to me by a couple of young ladies I met on a bus who were from the UK.  The first hostel I tried had only one room left and and it was on the third floor way in the back.  I declined and went across the street to the Posada Jasmine.  After checking out the room, I took it.  Twenty dollars a night including a hot breakfast and Wi-Fi.

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My room is in the center first balcony, green door.  This hostel is okay but it’s probably my least favorite of the trip.  The Wi-Fi is good as long as you don’t disconnect.  Then you have to make a trip to the office to have them re-boot.  Eventually, we’re up and running again.  I’ve got to have something to complain about.

After getting checked in yesterday, I took a walk around the neighborhood and had a late lunch at an Equadorian restaurant up the street.

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It’s a quiet street.  I get a key that opens three locked doors before I get to my room.  Outer gate, front gate and front door and then another key for my room.  In Mindo, I had a key for the outer gate, in Otavalo and Cuenca someone was on duty and buzzed you in whenever you showed up.

Lunch was a ceviche de cameron.  Shrimp Ceviche.  It’s kind of a cold soup with onions and shrimp and a lime juice soup.  Very good.

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The side dish is  fried banana strips and what looks like the left over kernals from a bag of popcorn.  They were crunchy but not hard like the leftover popcorn.

This morning breakfast was a scrambled egg, a pancake, toast, a banana and hot tea.  Then I headed to Old Town to take a self-guided walking tour.

Because today was Palm Sunday the Plaza Grande was crowded with people.  There was procession of muscians and dancers that led the congregation into the largest cathedral in Quito, La Compania de Jesus.

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The cathedral is almost next door to the presidential palace.

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I had been warned several times to not take my big camera out in Quito so I took a minimalist approach.  I took a small day pack with my guide book, my English/Spanish dictionary, a map of Quito, a bottle of water and a small, point-and-shoot camera.  I slung it over my back and headed out.  In front of the cathedral, a local policeman (there are both federal police and local police here and private security at some locations, as well) stopped me and ask me if I spoke English. He suggested I wear my backpack in front and not on my back. Apparently, their are thieves that will slash your back and run.   I thanked him and moved on.

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This part of the city is regularly closed to traffic on Sundays as bicyclists take over many of the streets from 8am to 2pm.  On my way back toward my hostel, I went through several city parks. Most are filled with families out enjoying the day, vendors selling food, artists selling their work and vendors selling all kind of blankets, hats, etc.

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I had taken a taxi to the Plaza Grande this morning but I walked all the way back to my hostel but stopped at a sidewalk cafe for a snack.  I didn’t stay long since it was beginning to look like the regular afternoon rain was on its way.  I made it back before the rain came.

Tomorrow is my last day in Quito.  I’ll head to the airport about 6:30.  My flight is at midnight and I connect through Miami.  It’s a half hour taxi ride to the old airport where you catch a bus to the new airport.  That ride is about an hour and a half.  The other option is a $25 taxi ride straight to the new airport.  It’s about 50 kilometers east of Quito.  But before that I’m going out for one last look around the city.

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