We've made it to Quito. We were met at the airport by a member of the PAP (Pambamarca Archaeological Project) staff. We were escorted to our hotel, the Jardin del Sol (Garden of the Sun) Hotel in the Mariscal district. This is a view of the Mariscal District from our balcony. This hotel was "expensive" compared to the ones recommended for students on the project. It costs $40/night, includes our own room with private bath, free breakfast and wireless internet although the network is pretty slow. There is a restaurant right across the street with music playing that will probably go through the night.
The first thing that we did was crash as we got very little sleep on the flight back from Maui and no sleep on the flights here.
Quito is a pretty big city sitting at about 10000 ft. I can feel the thinner air. The population of Quito is between 2 and 3 million depending on who you listen to.
We flew on Copa Airlines. This is a Panamanian airline with a hub at Panama City. I was a little leery about flying on a carrier that I'd never heard of but the fare was good, $600 round trip all inclusive except for a $40.80 departure charge we will have to pay upon leaving the Quito airport. The airline flew new equipment (737-B800 and 737-B700) and kept it's schedule. There were meals served on the airplane, not great food but better than most airline food that I remember and MUCH better than the stuff served for purchase now on US airlines. Overall, this was a better flying experience than I have had on a US airline in quite a while.
We have tomorrow mostly free. Saturday was intended to be a margin day to cover travel problems. There are no hard plans made to fill it. Sunday, we meet the PAP project at a coffee shop about two blocks away and the work starts.
One thing that we are going to do tomorrow is find a SIM card for Sandy's GSM cellphone so that we don't pay international rates for cell phone calls. She has instructions for unlocking her phone. We might also get a pre-paid cheap phone for me with a local number depending on the cost. My regular cellphone is a CDMA phone and even if it were unlocked, it would not work here.
Today was a lay back day trying to acclimate to the altitude and to recover from sleep deprivation. Last night was the 3rd night in a row that I slept badly primarily because of the loud music and noise coming from the nightclub across the street. About midnight, things really picked up and it didn't calm down until about 0400 when they apparently closed the place down.
This hotel is a bed and breakfast so we had a simple meal of fruit and toasted rolls in the hotel. It was a little too early, but we walked a few blocks down a nearby main drag, the Seis de Deciembre (6th of December), to the "SuperMaxi" which is a full up supermarket anchoring this mall. The whole place was closed up tight at 0830 as were most of the other businesses that we walked by. We did find an open shop on the way back and bought a 5 liter bottle of water for $1.25. This is one of those places that you don't drink the tap water. The water that we got at breakfast was dipped from a boiling pot.
Along the way, I noticed that the power wiring in this town is a royal mess. This is actually not as bad as we've seen elsewhere, but I would not want to climb that pole to fix some bad wiring.
On our walks, I was observing the infrastructure of Quito. Like most South American cities, the place seems a little run down and haphazard. The sidewalks are uneven and full of holes that would be an instant lawsuit in the US. Many building have peeling paint and graffiti. There are bars on most windows. All the stores have roll up steel doors or roll aside steel cages protecting the storefronts.
About 1000 we walked back to the SuperMaxi to buy some sandwich makings. We could have got the same bottle of water there for $0.96 but we were thirsty and needed it then. Sandy bought a SIM card for her phone from a stand in the mall for $6 and another $6 add on card. International rates to the US from here are $0.12/min. If she just used her T-Mobile SIM card in her phone, the rate would have been in excess of $2/min. I could have bought a whole phone for $52 at the SuperMaxi but I elected not to. I don't think that it will be necessary.
The official currency in Ecuador is the US dollar although Ecuador mints it's own coins so we got our change in local coins. Housing and transportation are cheap here, food in the grocery store was not cheap, somewhat more than in the US. Restaurants can also be inexpensive, good meals can be found for a few dollars.
After we had our sandwiches for lunch, we found an ad in a local english language give away paper for a Mongolian BBQ place a couple of blocks away and considered getting dinner there, but sometime in the middle of the afternoon while we were napping, it started to rain so we will stay in for the evening. Rain is predicted for the next 5 days at least according to the Weather application on Sandy's new iPod touch.
© 2009 George Schreyer
Created 19 Jun 09
Last Updated June 20, 2009