Okay, so here I am, in Quito, Ecuador! After a long and tedious 11 hour flight in which there was one TV (that kept shaking on the ceiling, clearly terrified) between about 50 people, we landed at around 4.30pm to glorious sunshine and mountains surrounding us on all sides. Once we had made it through passport control, we were met by Daniel, one of the owners of our first hostel, who was standing there looking bored as ever with a sign with my name on it! We said hi to him, and he was really lovely and friendly, and he drove us to Traveller’s Inn where we stayed for our first three nights.
So on our first full day, we explored the Old Town of Quito which is a beautiful 15th Century Spanish colonial town. We got lost on the way (not surprising considering our Spanish is erm, muy mal) but finally found our way there! The buildings and small cobbled streets are so pretty, and it was a pleasant day out.
The next day, Daniel took us to a crater/extinct volanco which had amazing views down into the valley from where we were standing. Then, the highlight of my day, and something I had always wanted to do (yes, I’m sad) – we went to Mitad Del Mundo and stood on the equator! It was extremely exhilirating having one foot in the Northern hemisphere and one in the Southern, and our guide, Gabriel, showed us some interesting experiments to prove that it really is the official equator. Firstly, he showed us in a sink how the water runs in different directions in each hempishere, and on the equator line, it just falls straight down the middle and doesn’t run in any direction at all! Then, we tried to balance an egg on a nail, and succeeded! Apparently that only works on the equator? We got a certificate and a stamp in our passport for managing to do it, cos only about 30% of people manage to! We then tried to walk along the line on the equator with our eyes shut, but it was weird cos you could kind of feel this magnetic force pulling you in both directions. Yes, I know how dramatic that sounds.
Another thing that Gabriel showed us was these shrunken human heads – the result of a ritual that indigineous people used to perform to important chiefs in their tribes once they have died. The process would involve cutting off the heads, taking off the face like a mask, and boiling it until it becomes a tiny shrunken head!
I forgot to mention our waiter at a traditional Ecuadorian restaurant we went to. He was called Alejandro and did bring us figs and cheese instead of the pudding we ordered, but apart from that, he was very helpful and bemused by the fact that we wanted a group photo with him…
Anyway, we’ve only been here for 2 days so far! We’re leaving Quito tomorrow to go to Banos, so I’ll write more in a few days, hopefully.