I made it to South America! My first few days in Quito, I slept, partied, explored, and ate #allthecarbs. I was also verryyy excited to discover that there are no mosquitos here. There is so much to share, but for my initial Quito post, here’s a quick play by play of my first weekend abroad.
11:30: I landed in Quito, breezed through customs (no one asked me for proof of onward travel) and had no problems leaving the airport. In fact, the new airport is quite nice! No one pressured me to use their taxi or car service, which is what I’ve previously been acustomed to in other international airports like Managua and Bangkok. I was the only person in the taxi line and was given the proper going rate taxi price of $25. Yes, I spent the big bucks in order to make it to my friend’s house the quickest, safest way in a new city. I still managed to keep to my $35/day budget, though!
12:30: I arrived at Jen & Jorge’s apartment as a last minute house guest for 3 nights. Jen and I met in the Girls LOVE Travel group on Facebook which has proven to be an amazing resource for me as I navigate solo travel for the first time. I brought them US provisions including Frank’s buffalo sauce and Reese’s peanut butter cups which are impossible to come by in Ecuador. Jen is from NJ and has been teaching English in Quito for 11 months, and Jorge is Ecuadorian, so what better a pair than to show me around the city for the first few days?
14:00: I had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant! Can you believe it?! They have several in Quito, actually. I got all of this for just $3.25. This is a big departure from my $12-15 lunches back home.
16:00: Nap, nap, nap, nap, nap. I nearly slept for 4 hours straight. I think I was worn out from the stress of getting here and then not sleeping much during my red-eye flight. Jen was teaching her night class, and Jorge was busy preparing for a presentation (he’s a law professor) so no one seemed to mind.
20:00: I went out for drinks & a pizza cone with Jen and some of her friends (a combination of English teachers and locals). A pizza cone is this interesting semi-tasty $2.00 carbolicious delicacy in Plaza Foch (the party center of Quito). They even have a vegetarian option. What more can a girl ask for?
11:30: I enjoyed a late tigrillo breakfast with the Fulbright English teachers. Tigrillo is an amaaaazing mash of plantains, onions, and peppers severed with fried egg. It’s hearty and delicious. I’m pretty sure all our plates are cleared so you can’t see it here. Also, these are good people.
13:30: I found coffee on the way home and basically forgot where I was because I paid $1.70 for a tiny cup. That is way too much here! I’m finding that good coffee is hard to come by.
15:00: Jen, Jorge, and I took a $0.25 bus (now you can better understand how the $25 taxi compares) to a neighboring town, Cumbaya, for lunch at a friend’s restaurant. I don’t feel comfortable taking my iPhone around with me often (robbery is common here) so I can’t show you the photo of my ridiculousy huge plate of carbs upon carbs upon carbs. The vegetarian option they selected for me included potatoes, plantain, and corn prepared in at least 5 different ways. I also got half of an avocado and was so happy to find that it’s served in abundance in Quito and is quite cheap! Every California girl’s dream.
21:00: Jen, Jorge, and a bunch of Ecuadorian guys and I arrived early for 2 for 1 drinks at Bungalow, the infamous bar and nightclub in Plaza Foch. After enjoying our ridiculously strong cocktails discounted to $1.50 each, we danced until the club closed down.
14:00: After some much needed sleep, we explored Parque Itchimbia and enjoyed a food truck lunch. There was a vegetarian option at nearly every truck which completely blew my mind! The big city is making it fairly easy for me to eat vegetarian so far. The park was full of activities, including free concerts. It was a beautiful day, and I already adore the parks in Quito.
16:00: Next we walked around Parque El Ejido which has local art vendors and is in the Old Centre of Quito. I wish I could buy a painting while I’m here, but I’m traveling too light for that. Everyone who sees my pack comments on how small it is. So far, I am very happy with my decision to minimize although I have to pack and unpack daily. I also tried humitas for the first time. You can get this steamed corn snack sweet (de dulce) or salty (de sal) with a coffee (un cafe). I selected una humita de sal con cafe for $0.75. (Remember how much I paid for a coffee yesterday? Exactly. Also remember how I said I ate all the carbs? Lol. Yesss.)
22:00: I was peer pressured into having my second $2 pizza cone. Don’t judge me. I shook my booty again at Bungalow, this time with another group of friends. They play a mix of Latin and American music at this spot which is quite fun! I also learned that Wednesday is “ladies night” in Quito which means free drinks. I definitely think that fits into my budget while I’m in this city.
13:30: I semi-tried a typical Ecuadorian coastal lunch called “encocado mixto” with fish and chicken at another friend’s house. (Jen and Jorge know a lot of people!) I couldn’t eat much, but was planning to try and eat the fish…until I saw its face. I just couldn’t do it. I took my phone out with me since we took taxis everywhere that day (which is safer than walking), so here’s a photo of the group! The chef and host is to my right.
16:00: Parque Itchimbia take two. I can’t get enough of this place, and I wanted some more pictures. In addition to live music, they also had a DJ playing and hula hoops set out everywhere! Fun for the entire family.
18:00: After a whirlwind weekend, I arrived at my hostel and home for the next 3 weeks while I volunteer as a guide for a local kids’ summer camp. I have ages 5 & 6. Eek! Wish me luck! More to come on the camp, how it feels to speak Spanish again, and volunteering abroad soon. (Less to come on partying and napping.)
As they say in Ecuador, ciao!