Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hola Ecuador!

Arrived in Quito on Friday night via a long series of delays and flights!

Our hostal- Hostal Alcala is this beautiful yellow bed and breakfast in the heart of Quito. We really have enjoyed our stay there thus far. Jose the owner is very nice and puts up with all our questions. We get hot cocoa, tea, and coffee all the time and get served breakfast in the morning.
Breakfast is scrambled eggs, fruit, toast, and this gorgeous papaya juice (we've been too scared to try the juice so far). We get all this for $13 per person a night plus hot water, electricity, a private double with a private bath, and tv and wireless access :).

On Ecuadorian food- its mostly lots of juices, fresh fruits, and vegetables with meat main dishes and rice. Sadly, Christina and I are staying clear of any potential stomach troublers like fresh produce for this week.

Christina and I explored on Saturday 6/21 starting early in the morning. It was the day of the Solstice (longest day of the year!) and there were a few festivals and cultural events happening in Quito. We were directed to the "Mitad Del Mundo" or rather the "Middle of the World". Obviously, Ecuador is at the equator and after about a 1.5 hour tiring bus ride (christina and I had to stand the whole time) we made it to the equator line! It is centered in a park of artisans and restaurants so we spent a good few hours there. It also seems to rain every afternoon in Quito- not always very nice. It's supposedly winter here so water and cold = damp and shivering Jessica.
The scenery around Quito is gorgeous. It is a small/quaint city in the middle of a valley-surrounded by towering peaks and so highly elevated it almost touches the clouds. It really is beautiful as clouds blanket almost any peak in sight. Public transportation is great, we are able to purchase tokens for $0.25 and travel almost anywhere in the city -much more modernized than I expected! Also, we never even needed to exchange currency as they use the US dollar.
Safety has been a concern for us, because we here about a lot of theft and all the locals we meet tell us to guard our valuables, however we met this tall German guy, Nicco, our second night here and befriended him to join us on our adventure to the "Old City" today. This part of the city is very touristy and reminds me of Italy- its filled with many many old churches and museums. It also sits below a hill with a towering Virgin Mary made from stone on it (We took a taxi to the top and climbed the statue a few flights). So the three of us spent about 8 hours exploring that entire area. Each museum's fare is about $1 for students, makign it easy for us to hop from place to place. Streets are cobblestone, lots of squares for people to meander about, and there were some musical festivities while we were there. It is quite steep in some places of the road, so when it started pouring mid afternoon they turned into turbulent rivers (I can only imagine what a "rain" forest is like)! We hopped and jumped across the rushing water to find shelter in churches and museums. It was fun hanging out with Nicco and exploring a new section of the town were we saw many more tourists than our first day.

After the tiring day we returned to the hostel and went to a nearby pizza place :). christina and I spend our evenings safe in the hostel watching T.V. and chilling out. We have yet to have confirmation from the rain forest lodge about our stay there this coming week, so we're a bit on edge but doign our best to get the wound care project off the ground.

My spanish remains very bad, and Christina and Nicco are invaluable in their skills!
For now, buenos noches!

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