Because I had viciously worn out Google’s “image” search function, I already knew that Quito the capital city of Ecuador was in the mountains. But when I stepped out of the airport, I realized that, as usual, there are some things that aren’t always captured by a lens.
Instead of seeing the grey lumps depicted from Iphones all over the Internet, I was immediately surrounded by silent sloping hills draped in soft green. Quito is on a 9,350-foot plateau nestled among the majestic Andes Mountains, which are large enough to take up half the sky. No matter how lost you get, these hulking giants are there to comfort and you remind you that it’s ok, you can’t go too far because they’ll stop you from leaving that little plateau.
As we began our drive to Quito, the car began to get impossibly higher and the roads became busier. Many of the restaurants had signs boasting of $3 lunch specials and fresh juice, a fantastic deal that I was very excited about. Most people on the streets wore layers despite the strong sun, probably to prepare for the ever- changing weather.
Soon we turned onto a small, quiet street and stopped in front of a door with a red awning reading “Hotel Andino.” Inside, I was greeted with a big smile and a “Hello Connie!” from Miguel, the owner of the family-run business. He showed me around the hotel, which is filled with bright, friendly colors and has a quaint inner courtyard. The open space made the whole hotel seem inviting and fresh.
Throughout the week, I had more chances to wander around, spending much of my time in Parque a Carolina, a park in the central business district. It stretches on for blocks and has a never-ending stream of playgrounds and soccer fields. There are many clubs and teams that regularly meet up to play, and it’s easy to find out about these meetups through Facebook. I was also happy to see that there are plenty of gyms in Quito, and decided to sign up for one. Despite the urban environment, it’s been very easy to stay active so far.
It was also gratifying to see that the signs advertising $3 lunches weren’t bluffing. These meals have often included soup and main course of meat, rice, and vegetables. According to what people have been saying, Quito has a variety of meat, which I realized after eating goat tongue. For a recent graduate on a budget, these meals have been the highlight of my day.
Although I have traveled a little bit before, there are things that you have to think about when you’re staying in one place instead of passing through it. (Such as it’s probably not socially acceptable to wear the same shirt for four days in a row). Because of this, I expect that my impressions of this city will shift and change as time goes on. But for now, it’s comforting to know that there is good food, fun things to do, and the beautiful view of the Andes Mountains.
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