Ecuador! Part Two

Looking up at the city of Quito from the valley underneath

To catch up with the first part of the Ecuador trip, click here.
After a jam-packed few days that included a wedding, pampering, and a road trip, things slowed down. This was mostly because I found myself stricken with the worst stomach bug I’ve ever caught. Monday’s plans were abandoned as I spent the day in various states of distress. I won’t go into detail, but I’ll just dish out one important thing that I learned from the fiasco: if you’re traveling in a new country, and you get a weird feeling about the food – just don’t risk it. No matter how good it smells. No matter how tasty it looks. No matter how cheap it is. No matter how many other people are eating it.

(In the US, my limited samplings of Ecuadorian food had included ceviche prepared by Xavier’s aunt, and a visit to an Ecuadorian restaurant in Charlotte, NC where the food was overwhelmingly Colombian. It seems like Ecuadorian food doesn’t get a lot of love outside of its own country. Once in Ecuador, I was excited to finally try the real stuff. In my excitement, I barely thought twice about stuffing myself with street food and stuff from casual roadside restaurants. Big mistake).

Anyway, by Tuesday afternoon I had somewhat recovered and was ready for limited action. The group of us made a little excursion to Mitad del Mundo, a monument and attraction at the equator. It’s only about thirty minutes from Cumbaya, the suburb of Quito where we were staying.

Looking down the path towards the equator momument

There were many little shops and attractions surrounding the monument. Although we explored an insectarium and some of the shops, the coolest thing by far was the model of Colonial Quito, put together by my friend Catae‘s father-in-law. I met Catae because she is married to Xavier’s best friend – and it was nice to meet her father-in-law and see the model of Quito that I’d heard so much about!

The photo doesn’t do it justice – it’s huge and amazing.

After saying hello, we actually approached the equator. There is a huge painted yellow line that lets you  know whether you’re in the north or south hemisphere.

After you get bored of the novelty of jumping from hemisphere to hemisphere, or standing in both hemispheres at once, you can explore the monument. First, you take an elevator to the top and look around. It was a cloudy and drizzly day, so much of the view was obstructed.

Next, you can explore the museum inside the building. There are artifacts and demonstrations of Ecuadorian life, particularly those of the Indians. My favorite artifact was a shrunken head, which I illegally photographed using flash.
After the museum, we had fun at the little site where you can observe the tangible effects of the equator. Apparently you weigh less at the equator, but when I jumped on the scale to find out, it turned out to be nonsense. Something slightly more rewarding was a little table set up directly on top of the equator, where you could balance an egg on a nail. Don’t ask me how this works, but it was pretty cool. (I will note that the table is splattered with crusty old egg from people who failed to manage the egg-balancing, though).
Afterwards, we got dinner at a small restaurant; everyone else got empanadas, but my still-tender stomach reeled at the thought of anything somewhat unfamiliar, and I could only tolerate french fries. So much for eating healthy!
The next day, we had plans to spend the afternoon at Xavier’s dad’s house. But since I was finally feeling better, Xavier and I took the morning to go exploring. We decided that we wanted to see the colonial city and El Panecillo, the giant statue of the Virgin that overlooks Quito. Finding the route up the mountain to El Panecillo was an adventure in itself, but we saw some pretty sights on the way.
You can see El Panecillo on top of the hill, to the right 
Street kitty
Winding narrow roads overlooking valleys full of homes

A city built into a mountainside
Finally, after many sets of poor directions, we made it to the top. And eventually, the sun came out!

Colonial Quito 
The next day, we resumed our explorations with a little bit of an adventure. We had originally planned to go to the jungle, but due to time constraints, we decided it would be best to turn a two-day jungle excursion into a zip-lining day trip. As we drove out of Quito, signs of people quickly decreased and the vegetation turned dense and green. The road wound through mountains and jungle. It was immense and beautiful and photographs really don’t do it justice.

Once we reached Mindo, we stopped for a quick lunch and then it was time for ziplining. I’ve ziplined before and always felt that the experience was shorter than I would have liked. There’s so much anticipation! You go through the trouble to put on the gear, you clip into the line, you fly… it’s over in half a second. Well, this zip-lining took place over the course of 13 separate lines in the pouring rain. You could hardly open your eyes with the stinging rain, and the braking glove had no effect on the wet line. Between rides, we hiked through the woods to the next station, becoming more soaking wet. It was really a blast, but for the first time in my life I can say that I wasn’t disappointed when zip-lining was over.
Ziplining – photos stolen from Martha
By the end of the day, we were completely soaked to the bone and exhausted – but it was so much fun. After a couple of days being really sick, it was a relief to see more of Ecuador than its bathrooms.
We still had a couple of days left, so look out for that post shortly!
And I ask you, readers: what’s your best story of travel sickness?
All photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted!

3 thoughts on “Ecuador! Part Two

  1. catae

    yay! you saw the miniature model!!!! the pictures never show how amazing it is! I want to learn how to do those things. We also got lost trying to get to el panecillo even with one of andre's friend driving us. I love picture #12. I've never been too sick on any trip. I was sick in Ecuador bc of the altitute. 1st time I ever have that problem. It lasted several days. It wasnt bad enough to stop me from doing things but I didnt feel normal. I like to see u call me catae. I know i use it for my ID but I only think of it in spanish. there are too many catalinas and you need the 1st letter of the last name to keep up.

  2. J.K.

    tu suegro no creyó que yo estoy novia de Xavier… pensó que fui amiga de Abigail. jaja! el proximo vez que vas a Quito, toma pastillesa de altitud.. es muy facil, y despues estas bien!


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