Flint to Chicago to Miami to Quito
by Kathleen Rollins
The first step in modern travel is often the strangest. It involves packing clothes that don't suit the season you're used to, getting up at 3:00 am, and sitting around airports for a good part of the day. At the Flint. Michigan airport, the man checking in my bag looked at my destination and said, "Where's Guido?" It sounded like an Italian version of "Where's Waldo?"
"Quito is the capital of Ecuador," I said.
"Why would you want to go there?" he asked.
"Because it's wonderful," I answered, and that seemed to be enough for him to decide that it took all kinds.
In Miami, I met my friend from Rhode Island, and we went on together to Quito. The runway at Quito is quite short, mostly because there's a mountain at the end of it, so as soon as we landed, the pilot hit the brakes. No need to tell folks on this flight to leave their seat belts fastened!
Lying just south of the Equator, the city is very high, at 10,000 feet, and it rests against the slopes of Pinchincha, an active volcano. I asked the taxi driver if that was a problem, and he said, "Only when it erupts."
But as charming as the Hotel Eugenia was, with its old style colonial architecture and courteous staff, it was primarily, for us, a place where we could prepare for our trip to the Galapagos Islands the next day.