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Trip Report Exploring the cities of Ecuador's Andes

My husband and I spent 13 days in the Andes of Ecuador at the end of February/beginning of January. It’s taken me awhile to put my thoughts down on “paper.”

A few words about us: we’re in our 30’s, definitely fall in the “budget traveler” category, and took this trip with the idea that we were interested in moving to Ecuador to enjoy more adventure, a slower way of life, and lower living expenses. We both do a good amount of Bible volunteer work, so we were interested in volunteer opportunities while we were there. We also have a large network of friends, so we were able to stay with friends of friends and more often than not, friends of friends of friends. For that reason you’ll find my trip report short on hotel reviews.

Day 1: Flight from Richmond to Atlanta to Quito on Delta
Flight went smoothly. We packed “lightly” in the sense that we had a small personal item and checked our backpacks. If you’re going to move from hostel to hostel and travel mostly by bus, backpacks are the way to go. We found some good deals on eBay for used packs, 65L size. They worked out well. We also “muled” down a few goodies for our hosts which left plenty of room to return with a few souvenirs.

Our flight landed around 11:20 p.m. which is the norm for international flights in Quito. The airport was well equipped. We had a friend of a friend pick us up form the airport. It was a good 45-60 minute ride to their house which was located in the southwest of Quito. Everywhere is a long ride from the airport in Quito.

Day 2: Sight-seeing in Quito on Election Day
We woke up the next morning feeling surprisingly good considering we live at sea level. We might have popped something for a light headache that day, but it really wasn’t that bad. The home we were staying at was four bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and included a rooftop view of 5 volcanoes on a clear day. They pay $260/month rent. Downside is that you’re a 45 minute bus ride from the Old City and most of the nice restaurants. Quito is massive. It stretches for as far as the eye can see. There are beautiful modern sections, the old historic section, and then residential and commercial properties forever. It’s overwhelming.

This was election Sunday and since we were trying to relax, we went with our hosts into the city to tour the city parks. I’m a fan of green space. Parque El Ejido had a bunch of artisan stands set up. Since we were early in our trip, I refrained. Nearby the Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal had myriads of stalls. I was suckered into three pretty scarves for $5 and some chocolate bars. Like I said, I had no business buying souvenirs when I still had so much travel to do. But I’m glad I bought them because otherwise I didn’t buy much this trip. Afterwards we went to the Foch neighborhood and then walked to Parque La Carolina. What a park! It’s NY’s Central Park on steroids! There are ball fields, playgrounds, little rivers, a Botanical Garden, food vendors, and so much more. It’s a great spot to people watch. For lunch (I can’t remember if it was before or after, but I’m pretty sure it was before) we went to the mall. Most of the restaurants around the park were either too pricey for our budget or closed. The mall was a nice glimpse into where we would go for items should we live there, but it wasn’t our cut of tea. We did get a decent meal of fried fish or chicken, beans, rice, and a small salad for about $4-5. We went home tired.

Day 3: Sight-seeing in Old Town
We caught the bus to Old Town and walked around. The San Fransisco Church was pretty, but we weren’t in the mood to tour. We made a beeline from there to the Basilica. It was spectacular although required quite a climb both inside and outside. But most importantly I got my signature picture of the double clock tower. We spent quite a bit of time there, so afterwards we were starving. And instead of catching a taxi to the Foch where I had picked out our restaurant, we hoofed it. And then we searched and searched and it appeared our restaurant was closed on Monday. So we pulled up TA and found another restaurant. We ended up dining at Fried Bananas. American prices, but very good food. Especially the ceviche. It was awesome! Afterwards we started walking back to our bus stop. Not the best form of sight seeing, but I like to wander like this…it’s my way of being “local.” But it wasn’t an efficient use of our time. Sometimes I sacrifice too much for the sake of frugality. If I had to do it again, I would have taken advantage of the HOHO bus because we would have gotten more done in a shorter period of time. And I would have shelled out the money for a few taxi rides. But hindsight is always 20/20.

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