Thursday, January 6, 2011

City Tour, Day 2

We put the new official team mantra of "Vicious and Delicious" (re: have fun, look good, go slow, and be safe --listed in order of importance) to the test on Thursday morning, our day for further altitude acclimatization and chance to see the sights of Quito.

After proper caffeination and calorie consumption at the Hostel Alcala provided by our hosts Jorge and Daniella, we set out with our local guide Nacho and trusty driver Victor- for a whirlwind historical tour of the old town.

After getting our heart rates and nerves on edge with both the erratic and fast paced flow of Quito traffic (though it might also be attributed to co-trip leader Eric's rendition of "Gloria" in the cab), we arrived at the destination and hit the presidential palace in the Plaza de Indepencia, the most quintessential example of Quitena Baroque style at the Iglesia La Compania de Jesus (Ʊ%C3%ADa), Plaza de San Francisco (, and Panecillo Hill ( topped by the Virgin of Ecuador.

Along the way, we learned many useful Spanish terms for deeds that can land you in a hell with accompanied by the graphic depiction of the appropriate punishment, learned that the local dogs can be unfriendly to the paparazzi (fortunately, Kerr can run fast), and concluded our morning with a three course feast at a quaint restaurant on one of Quito's oldest roads, La Ronda ( After 2 hours of gorging ourselves on empanadas, seco de chivo (lamb with a sweet beer sauce), churrasco (thin-cut beef with rice and eggs), pristinos con miel (fried bread-like product with honey), higos con queso (figs with honey and cheese), and buneuellos de queso con miel (bread-like, cheesy biscuits with honey) we stumbled back to Victor´s van and proceeded back to the Hostel Alcala for naps and recovery from our food comas.

Post-siesta, we ventured out yet again to take on the marketplace and test our bartering skills. Success ranged from poor to stellar. I found myself still attempting to learn ´how much?´and hoping that my numerical comprehension was sufficient to not hand the vendor an unreasonably large bill, while Katie used a combination of feminine wiles and fluent Spanish to *own* the marketplace. Katie, if only Renaudo (the crazed taxi driver from NYC) could have seen you in action--I´m sure he´d be proud. Alpaca hoodies, pink Ray-Ban sunglasses, and an impulse buy of Ecuadorian passionfruit liquor which may prove to be a mistake by the trip´s end...

We finished out the day with pizza at Javier´s house, the owner of our local agent Andean Face, where he taught us a bit about Ecuadorian culture and showed us some pictures of the hikes and climbs we would be doing in the coming days. He also shared with us a bit about the charity, Danielle, that he and his wife run near the city of Banos about 5 hours south of Quito. While the charity is formerly based out of the Netherlands it provides homes and familial services for children in Ecuador and Nepal preventing them from living in the street. (

After a few hours of cards and picture editing the base rhythms of the Quitean night-life rocked us to sleep.

Sweet Dreams

Sarah Hunter

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