Wednesday, October 7

Surviving Ecuador, Part 1

The Happy Crew in Lago Agrio
...and I packed too much! I am happy to say that turbo-traveling with four 20 year olds was a success. It began with an early morning flight, August 5th, out of San Diego to Atlanta. From Atlanta a flight straight to Quito, Ecuador. I saw the lights of Florida fade, as the islands of Cuba edged into view. Holding Josh's hand tightly, I was overwhelmed by how much I missed my country just at that moment. Even though it was nighttime, the view was breathtaking. At last, the continent of South America was below us, pulsing, sleeping, waiting. It was surreal. Explosive thoughts and sparking neurons transmitted messages to every cell of my being.. my other self was awakening.

We landed in the Mariscal Sucre International Airport, the busiest airport in Ecuador. We immediately had to get our luggage and go through customs. Really made me nervous, my first experience with a passport and customs. It was difficult to understand the Spanish... it was a snappy blend of Quichuan and Spanish, not my familiar Mexican-American-Spanglish dialect in Southern California. Next step, get a taxi to our first hotel, the Hotel Gran Quitumbe. As soon as we stepped outside there was a line of taxi's. We were shuffled into two small cabs. The taxi drivers carry no more than 4 people so we split up. It happened so fast we didn't even have time to check for the panic button! It was Mr. Toad's wild ride South American style!

Quito is nestled between the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, built on a long, narrow plateau. Our hotel was in the southern end of Quito and the road to the Hotel Gran Quitumbe was steep, wide and open. The driver reached speeds of 100! I know this because Joshua kept his eye on the speedometer. It was a race, from the north end of Quito, to the southern reaches! We arrived, heads spinning, but made it in less than an hour. It was almost midnight and I couldn't believe I was standing in front of our hotel. I survived the flight, the taxi ride, the malaria pills and now our first night in Ecuador. 
Our colorful room at the Hotel Gran Quitumbe

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