Monday, October 31 - Wednesday, November 2
Last week was just a series of me trying to leave Quito and the world saying no, I don't think so!
See, last week was also a series of major holidays. Dia de los Muertos being the biggest up here. And everyone in Quito takes off and goes to the coast, or go to Baños, or Otavalo... all of the places I tried to visit!
So, I woke up early Monday morning and after grabbing a quick breakfast I caught a taxi to the bus station where I could buy a ticket to Canoa. Got there and nope! Only two buses a day, and both buses were full. I could have taken one the next day, but it's an 8+ hour bus ride, and I needed to be back in Quito Thursday night. It really didn't make a lot of sense to me to spend ALL DAY on a bus, get one day somewhere, only to take off and spend all day on a bus again and then head straight to a pub for beers and then a major futbol game!
So no Canoa for me. Which actually amused me, since my original plan for Ecuador didn't involve Canoa to begin with! Besides, I never did manage to get vaccinations for the scary diseases you can catch from mosquitoes, so I had been quietly freaking out about the thought of going somewhere where there is the potential risk of yellow fever or malaria. Mosquitoes don't live this high up here in Quito so no worries here.
Instead I figured I'd join Matt and Laura in going to Mindo for the day on Tuesday. But again... all the buses were full! Eeeeep! Wednesday was the actual Day of the Dead festival in Otavalo. Matt was off hiking with a few people from the hostel so Laura and I decided we'd go to the festival together.
Also, I had plans to go to Otavalo this weekend, so it was nice pre figuring out how to get there!
Well, you have to take one of the metro buses to the end of the line. Then from there transfer to the another bus that takes you to the terminal. There you get people yelling at you to get you to buy tickets for their bus. Once you get to the station it's a piece of cake. The bus leaves every 20 minutes and it's easy as hell to find what you're looking for.
But not Wednesday! On Wednesday, Laura and I arrived at the terminal and we actually had to stop and stare. The line just to get a ticket was probably at LEAST 1.5 or 2 hours long. And after that who knows how long it'd be to actually manage to get on a bus! We were only going for the day, wanting to be back in Quito by dark. So we figured if we stuck around we'd get maybe an hour in Otavalo.
So again no dice. We were laughing as we got right back on the bus we'd just gotten off of. And laughing even more when we showed back up at the hostel and got teased for how many times we'd attempted to leave Quito and failed.
So yeah, I have spent way more time in Quito than I'd planned during this trip. But you know what? I don't mind. I actually love it here. So many of the other people I've met have talked to have hated it here and when they're here they are out again as fast as possible. But me? I know that if I don't go to the airport Tuesday morning and I don't get on that airplane that is supposed to take me home I will never leave. I could stay here forever.
I love the hostel I am in. How easy it is to meet people, how many places there are to hang out and talk or read or play card games. I love how much my thighs and ass are hating me for all the fucking stairs here plus the nasty hill you have to climb any time you leave the hostel to visit the city or get lunch.
I love being surrounded by so much beauty. I think growing up in Alaska I just got so accustomed to living in one of the most beautiful places on earth that after I left I forgot how impressive being around MOUNTAINS can be.
I love sitting on the terrace and being able to look to my right and see the Basilica and look to my left and see other similarly stunning architectural masterpieces. And when walking through the city being always happy to look around me.
I've even come to love Pilsner, one of the two beers you get here.
I love the markets. The bright colors. The cries from the vendors. How soft everything is as you run your hands over the alpaca blankets and shawls. Bargaining and digging through your unused Spanish vocabulary to express what you want or don't want. The smiles from children.
And I love how cheap it is to travel down here. And the joyous thank you receive from the man sitting next to you when you share with him some of your American chocolate w/ peanut butter..
I don't love feeling constantly paranoid that I will be robbed or pickpocketed any time I leave the hostel. But I know that it's not the city, it's not even the majority of the people. Just like any other city around the world.
Oh, another thing I love? South American futbol. And it's killing me that if Liga wins (or draws) their next game I won't be here to see the semi-final match.
There are so many more places around the world for me to visit. But I do know one thing. Some day, I am coming back to Ecuador. And back to Quito. And next time I will expect to stay here for a while and will make plans to take Spanish classes.