Day 331 Quito, Ecuador

I never thought I’d go to Ecuador. As a Boy Scout I learned their flag. And that’s all I knew. We stayed overnight in Quito, in transit to the Galápagos. Rather than write off our two travel days as lost time I decided to think of them as bonus adventures. We haven’t even got to the Galápagos yet but I’m already having the best holiday.

The late night taxi thrill ride from the airport to the hotel.
Dan’s guide book advised against public transport for high risk of theft. It even suggested caution getting into taxis. We walked through the Quito airport sliding glass doors and faced a row of green and yellow taxi cabs. Looked legit. We got in. Dan asked about a meter – the driver said something in Spanish. Dan gestured with his hands and somehow translated that there was no meter and that we’d pay a flat fee of US$25.
Would we make it alive? Were we being driven to an abandoned warehouse to get mugged and murdered? I said goodbye to my kidneys and was thankful for the good year we’d just experienced. The drive was an hour. For all I knew we were already in Colombia. I thought of a new life tending fields in whatever plant makes drugs for export. When the driver pulled up into the hotel driveway Dan tipped him an extra $5 as we were so thankful to have made it alive.

The early morning scenic and bumpy roller coaster ride from Quito to the airport.
How fast can I snap a picture of the rolling mist up a steep incline carpeted with housing and plants? We had booked a taxi to return to the airport for our flights to the Galápagos this morning. The hills were shrouded in mist. I gasped at each corner from the amazing photographic compositions that flew by. An iPhone was not fast enough to capture anything in the bumpy car ride. I set it on my lap and just watched. Dan looked at me every time the driver swerved across lanes, hurtling down the wet road directly at pedestrians that ran for their lives. You can’t buy a roller coaster ride with such ambience.

Is Ecuador on a fault line? The streets from the airport are lined by thrusts of sedimentary rock.

The Amazing Race at Quito airport.
What is that long line that is signed, “Galápagos Spanish word Spanish word another unknown Spanish word?
I’ll admit it: Dan was right. We walked into the newly built airport and Dan spotted a very long queue for something that had the word “Galápagos” in it. I argued, “Shouldn’t we go to the self-serve kiosks over there with signage for the airline we had booked with, then proceed to that bag drop?” We lined up. The kiosk couldn’t retrieve our booking. We queued for the bag drop. I dumped our shared hiking pack onto the scales. “You need to go to the [line that Dan wanted to queue in] and get a tag for your bag.” For a foreign airport where we can’t translate anything it was a relatively seamless process to get the National Park pass, bags x-rayed and tagged and weighed, checked in, given a boarding pass, security and then boarding. All without getting mugged once.

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