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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 22 Aug 2006

Location: Quito, Ecuador

MapThe Posada del Maple was a good place to stay - very friendly, good location and reasonably safe at night. Lots of restaurants and bars are within walking distance and police and security men everywhere.

We are using the internet at the South American Explorers Club in Quito where there´s lots of info, coffee, internet access and a nice dog that you can take for walks!

We spent our first few days sightseeing in Quito. We explored the old town - with lots of old churches and impressive buildings on Friday. The Compania Church was very spectacular - very ornate with 7 tonnes of gold decorating the inside.

On Saturday we went to the Mitad del Mundo [Middle of the World or Equator Museum] . We took a tour up a extinct volcano crater, {Pululahua} with Fernando, our guide. It's one of the largest craters in S America and one of only two inhabited in the world. Supposedly inactive although Fernando told us that it had started to rumble again. Fernando also showed us the local hallucinogenic berries and told us that the Mitad del Mundo is not on the "real equator" which is a few meters away - and was discovered by the pre Inca Quito people 1200 years ago - as demonstrated by his GPS.

This was our first real trip by bus. Going was fine - blue bus then green bus - easy! Coming back we caught a local bus to "Quito" - ten minutes after leaving we were back at the museum to collect more people. A circuitous route back and then a long walk but no pig-carrying locals yet.

On Sunday we moved to our homestay - very nice apartment on the edge of Quito - with great views of the mountains. Alicia, our hostess, is very nice but sits and watches us eat asking questions (in Spanish of course) so mealtimes are something of a challenging ordeal although the food (typical Ecuadorian meals) is fine. Colin is much better at chatting than me.

Sunday afternoon, we went up the teleferica up Pichincha - up to 4,100 meters (Quito is 2,800m or so) and the altitude was really noticable. We had a short walk but going up hill had to keep stopping to catch our breath and let our heartbeat return to normalish. Fabulous views - amazing looking down on the planes landing, but freezing cold. Should have taken gloves but didn't anticipate the huge difference in temperature.

Started Spanish classes yesterday - a written test to begin with (not too much cheating)! La professora Daniella is v nice but it is quite hard - the classes are quite structured so we're doing irregular verbs, loads of adjectives etc.

We've been going to bed early so in an effort to stay up are off to see Pirates of the Caribbean this evening, we've gone for subtitled not dubbed!!