23 – 26. August
Quito - Getting Ready for Galapagos
The flight into Quito was quite interesting to view from the window of the airplane. Instead of the airplane slowly sinking down towards earth, the earth actually came slowly up to the airplane. No surprise here: Quito is located at 2,800 meters above sea level. It was night already and we took a taxi to our hostel: a place we had reserved well in advance and were quite excited about – the Secret Garden. It was one of the nicest hostels we stayed during our trip, while simple it was well organized, had great internet, friendly staff, cheap laundry and a rule that at 11:00 PM all partying would stop. This allowed us to get a good night’s sleep in our cute little room despite staying at a place full of young backpackers. However, the best feature was the cheap 3 course dinner that one could eat on the room top terrace while enjoying amazing views of the old town of Quito, including the beautiful cathedral (which was lit up brightly at night). Later on, the staff would even start a large fire in the fire pit to hang around. One thing that was cool about Ecuador is that they have the US Dollar as their national currency – so all the money you got out of the ATM was in dollars. It was also a bit strange to see the symbols of “life and liberty” on the money that was used in a place so different from the United States.
We felt the altitude right away. Huffing and puffing was on order as we walked the city. Once we climbed these long stairs with huge effort to the top only to realize that we made a wrong turn and had to go back. From that time on, we always consulted the map closely. The days in Quito were not filled with too much stress: we picked up our Galapagos vouchers, rested and did a little sight seeing. The altitude sickness hit Alexandra a bit more than it did me and made her stay at the hostel while I spent the day sight seeing in the vicinity of the city.
With a few friends we made at the hostel, I went to an extinct volcano and visited the Equator. Fake and true: There is a huge monument built by the French years ago – but it turned out that they didn’t get their math right and placed it actually 200 meters to the south of the actual Equator. On the real equator line however is a small museum one can visit and learn about the equator through all sorts of interesting experiments, such as the famous sink emptying with a left vs. a right turning swirl (depending if you are on the south or north side of the equator. In this same museum we saw how shrink heads are made and how indigenous people used to and sometimes still live. The next day our great Galapagos adventure would begin and we were very excited.