Chapter 1-Getting to Quito and living at 9000 feet
in some cases this is just a note to myself, thought it might be interesting to track my first solo trip (ie not related to work travel). so i arrived in quito yesterday through panama (panama looked really interesting from the air, might have to visit there also), about 8 hours of flying to get to the equator, overall slept most of the way, not a bad flight on something called copa airlines (no i did not see any lamas or other farm animals on this flight but i expected it). Getting to the hotel was uneventful and the place is a quite nice boutique hotel, especially in comparison to the marriot just down the street, but i find the cab drivers all know how to find the marriot. anyway, i got here a couple of days early to help get used to the altitude (9000 ft) (btw this keyboard sucks, it is a spanish keyboard, but set to english so all the keys are wrong, at least special characters). so once i dropped off my stuff i went for a walk to the old town, basically the originally part of the town that has buildings that must be 200 to 300 years old, very beautiful and the walk didnt kill me. i also got to see a local parade which mostly consisted local people in their local dress, that was quite fascinating and throwing out food to the people that were watching. after the long walk, i had a very uninteresting dinner, hopefully tonight will be better, i have been given the address of a good ecuadorian restaurant, so I am in hunt of pork sandwiches, with marinated onions, um.
so day two, today i went on a tramway that took me high above the city to one of the volcanos that rim quito (i think there are 7, the highest at 19000 ft or so), this is were i met my first group of people, on the tram ride up. at first i thought they were from england and they were but they currently live in quito and Robert (husband and dad) works for a conservation group that has sites all over latin america. They also had a friend with them who is visiting from tazmania. anyway after, the tramride, i started hiking and i ended up hiking with the group. Robert, pipper (mom), billy (12 year old), sasha (8 year old) and grahm. from the top of the tramway at 12500 feet they were going to hike to the top of the volcano at near 16000 ft, i walked with them for 2 hours and decided that 14000 ft was high enough, good thing to, at the bottom storm clouds moved in and i could here thunder all around and i was on a ridge line. i find this town very interesting in the people that it draws, i talked to people today from new zealand, holland, florida, maine, Australia, and many other languages heard that say that people travel here from all over the world. anyway, so after 3 hours of hiking up, i joined my new friends for lunch and they continued to the top of the mountain, the kids were amazing, i was complaining more. so i then went back down the hill were at 12000 ft, i had one of my highest lunches of empanadas and soup and tried to put back in liquids that i did not have enough for such a long hike. planning who needs it, another amazing thing at 14000 ft overlooking quito far below, I could get cell service, go figure. now it is late afternoon and i think per local culture a nap is in order.