Posted by: robinson2000 | February 6, 2011

Ecuador – Quito – Food Poisoning!

1st-5th February – We said adios to the salsa swinging city of Cali and caught our early morning flight back up to ‘’please don’t rob me’’ Bogota, then took another small flight down to Quito to begin our Ecuadorian adventure. Quito is the second highest capital in Latin America after La Paz at 2850 metres. It is situated at the foot of the volcano Pichincha which towers over the city and can be climbed without a guide, although a tourist was killed whilst attempting to make the summit only last week.

After receiving another treasured passport stamp at immigration we changed up our remaining Colombian Peso’s into good old American Dollars which is Ecuador’s official currency and grabbed a cab down to a district of Quito called the Old City. The hostel we chose was called the Secret Garden which I’ll never understand why as it was a concrete monstrosity with the reception being on the top floor of the building five floors up. However it was a friendly place run by volunteers and the terrace restaurant/bar had amazing views over the city. For the rest of the day we relaxed in our dorm and took it easy only venturing out in the evening to a restaurant in the New City. The meal was pretty good and consisted of chicken wings as a starter, quesadillas for a main then washed down with a couple of Pilsners. We headed back to base for an early night but I was awoken early in the morning with that dreaded feeling of hot/cold sweats coupled with tremors of mythical proportions erupting in my stomach. Needless to say and I will spare the grim details, the next 12 hours were spent tooing and froing between toilet and bed as if I was competing in a beep test in a high school PE lesson. Luckily by the evening I was on the road to recovery as I was able to drink again and spend more than 15 minutes away from the toilet but the day was a white wash or a brown wash if you like details. 

The next day we explored the cultural side of Quito including a couple of beautiful plaza’s, a stunning cathedral and a pretty descent art exhibition of award winning photographs. In the afternoon we took a cable car to the Teleferico which climbs the flanks of Pichincha to 4050 metres. From there you can climb for another 3 hrs to the rim of the volcano but we opted out as we were still acclimatising to the altitude and didn’t have nearly enough water or time.

On our last day we took a bus to Mitad del Mundo which is situated 23km north of central Quito and is famous for the equatorial line that runs across Ecuador. A huge 30 metre monument that straddles the equator is the focal point of the area which the French built back in 1736. Unfortunately and in typical pompous French fashion they miscalculated it by some 200-300 metres so they have setup another visitor centre just down the road which is 100% accurate using GPS technology. The accurate visitor centre was excellent and had a range of experiments setup either side of the equator or directly on it to test out some famous theories. The obvious one was the water that drained clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which side you were but Chris reckoned that the sink was setup on uneven ground. We also tried balancing an egg on a nail, walking along the line with our eyes closed, and showing that you had less physical strength when you stood on the line. Another part of the centre included a section on indigenous culture in Ecuador and we were shown how they used to honour their dead by beheading them (obviously after death) and then shrink their heads down to the size of a fist which was fascinating in a morbid kind of way. 

Our evening’s entertainment was predominantly spent in the hostel bar as Quito does have a nasty reputation for being quite dangerous and we didn’t want a repeat of Bogota. We didn’t experience any trouble ourselves and after dark we had to take a taxi to where you wanted to go. Even this wasn’t full proof as a guest at the hostel took a taxi to KFC in the middle of the day only to be driven round a knifepoint and taken to several ATM’s where he was forced to withdraw money!

On our last evening in Quito the hostel decided to put on a pub quiz which we fancied our chances at due to our excessive love of them in Norwich. The quiz was the worst one we’d ever played in. Over the next 3 hrs we were given only 16 questions whispered by a man that had taken far too many drugs to care which team won and only remembered half of the question. Somehow we were leading going into the final question where each team had to gamble 0-10 points and risk either gaining those points if they got the question right or losing them if they answered incorrectly. Expecting a tough question and being in poll position we gambled only 5 points with each of the other teams risking the full 10. Unfortunately the question was an easy Disney based question which everyone got right and we lost first place and the $50 prize money. We did however receive a free drink for coming second but by that time I had lost the will to live and my team mates had slipped in to a small coma with the boredom of waiting for the next question.

We left Quito with many fond memories of a very beautiful city to our next destination Mindo, known for its cloud covered forests.

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  1. Morning,
    Glad you recovered quickly from your ‘pebble-dashing ‘ experience. Equador seems alot more civilised , though I expect you can be mugged anywhere in the world, now!!
    Just sorting out our last bits before our overnight flight to Delhi on wednesday with Virgin. We haven’t flown with them before but have heard they’re ok. Have brought a pair of timberland boots as we’re doing alot of walking and sightseeing, with a camel ride in the desert, boat ride on a lake and a rickshaw ride in a wildlife park. Will be taking my ‘note pad but my blogs and hopefully, pictures won’t be as long and accurate as yours!!!!

    Take care,
    Dotty and Mick xx

    • Hi Sue and Mic

      Thanks for keeping up with the blog. Your love India, especially the food which far exceeds any curry you´d eat in the UK. Which parts are you visiting? When we went a couple of years ago we spent most of the time in the north of the country and visited Delhi, Agra, Varanasi, Jipur, Jodpher, Shimla and a few others that i can´t remember the names of. Is it hot out there at the moment because i´ve heard the uk has been having dreadful wind and rain recently along with alot of other countries around the world. Look forward to seeing the pictures and have a good time.

      Love Ben

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