The few days we spent in Quito were days to be remembered but left us wanting more. It is a city worth exploring thoroughly and while we stayed there for three nights, one of the days was spent on a long day trip well outside of town. Quito is the capital of Ecuador and sits at just over 9,000 feet. It is the second most populous city in the country behind Guayaquil at a population of just over 2.5 million. The historic center of Quito is home to the largest and best preserved historic center of the Americas. It truly feels like you are transported back in time to the colonial days when walking the streets. The full influence of the Spanish at the height of their empire can be felt here in its most unadulterated form.
Our group spent a day doing some light walking in the city and visiting the equator line. The central of Quito sits about sixteen miles south of the equator so a trip there was a very quick and easy drive for our group. We also had an opportunity to shop in the Otavolo market outside of town. It was incredibly vast and you could buy any number of artisan goods, rugs, textiles, paintings, and clothes. A neighboring town was also very well known for high quality leather goods so Mandy decided to buy a handmade leather backpack. On the way back to our hotel the group stopped to try some roasted guinea pig (Tito & Olive – we promise we didn’t try any). As it was the end of a very long run of traveling days in a row we decided to take it easy on our last day. We were fortunate to stay our final night in Quito in a small hotel that was a converted 1920’s era mansion. The older couple who ran the hotel were incredibly accommodating and even drove us to the airport when our prearranged ride bailed on us. On the ride, they told us about their lives and process of starting the small hotel – how much of a challenge it had been and how much more they enjoyed it rather than working in the corporate world. Their generosity and openness really drove home the culture of the people in Ecuador - incredibly kind, open, and frank. I can’t wait to come back to this country and dive deeper into its culture, people, and history. // Jeff