¡Hola! from Quito, Ecuador. The past two days on the equator have been a whirlwind of exploring the city, hiking, and getting a VERY interesting taste of local Ecuadorian food and drink.
At the airport we were greeted by our leaders, Sam and Taylor, and then we got on a bus and were taken to our hostal by Nando (the bus driver). The hostal is a cute family-run place with comfortable beds, and surprising clean showers. After a night of extensive horn honking, music, and motorcycle riders from the street right outside our rooms, we were greeted by the owner of the hostal with eggs and watermelon juice. After an orientation we went to a local Ecuadorian restaurant where Madeline and I braved a vegetarian meal of rice, lentil type things, and plantains,as it was the best option other than seafood. Later in the day, we went to a big mountain in the Andes and rode the gondola from Quito's altitude of 9,000 ft,to the top, which was 12,000 ft. Needless to say, the high altitude left us short of breath, and it was quite chilly, but we hiked, took pictures, were amazed by the awesome view of Quito, and saw some really cute horses. Next, we headed back down to town and had dinner, and then went on a special night tour of Quito.
The second night was similar to the previous night and was filled with noise from the street...but on the plus side,the beds are comfortable. Today, for breakfast we had toast with passionfruit jam, scrambled eggs, and tree tomato juice. After breakfast, we hopped on our bus and drove for 2 hours to Otavalo market. The market was filled with natives selling beaded jewelry, blankets, bags, hats, and even hammocks. I have to say I have developed some good bargaining skills. For lunch, we had another Ecuadorian meal of organ soup (with the option of putting dried blood from a mystery animal in it), pork, and "leche" ice cream. After lunch, we went to the local fruit and vegetable market and interacted with many native people. A 2 hour bus ride later (which consisted mostly of sleeping), we got back to Quito and uploaded, edited, and sorted our pictures. For dinner, we went to an Asian restaurant called Uncle Ho's. It is located in the middle of an Ecuadorian neighborhood, yet is run by people from Switzerland with a menu in English (we have been reading menus and ordering everything in Spanish, which have led to some mystery meats, vegetables, etc.)Now, we are blogging, and packing up our stuff in preparation for our trip to Mindo in the morning. ¡Adios!