After the Ecuadorian coast and Mindo’s jungle, back to civilization with the short discovery of Quito. I had no expectations for the country’s capital but I was finally pretty seduced by its historical centre… and by all the chocolates tasted in the city’s numerous chocolate shops! 😉
On our way to the capital
Lundi 04 mars 2019
We woke up early with Miriam, and I left early to the centre of Mindo to buy our bus ticket to Quito. Carlos, our hostel’s owner, had recommended us to get it in advance, as it was a long weekend with the carnival; and the buses would be full soon.
Unfortunately the office was not open yet so I had to come back to the hostel, had my breakfast and left again to buy the tickets.
It was worth doing it as when we then came at 11 a.m. to get our bus, the waiting line was already endless and the bus was full!
We then had a 2-hour journey, followed by at least one hour and a half to go to our hostel once in Quito. The country’s capital is surprisingly built, spreading long and narrow from the north to the south, encircled between the mountains. Crossing the city can therefore be particularly long.
A short glimpse of Quito
We finally arrived at the beginning of the afternoon, had a quick lunch and went out for a walk in the city centre. As it was a holiday, the main market and most of the shops were closed.
However the tourism office and the historical centre’s chocolate shops were still open, so we enjoyed a lot tasting some delicious chocolates, and we didn’t deprive ourselves!
We didn’t have a lot of time to visit but this first insight of the city was pretty positive. The colonial architecture in the centre is well preserved and there was no traffic on that day, making the stroll nicer.
Separation and reunion
We came back to the hostel at the end of the day, where Miriam got her backpack before heading to the airport. We split after these two beautiful weeks travelling together, plus five weeks at Finca Sagrada. But no doubt, we will see each other again in the future, wherever it is!
I had time for a little yoga session and some cooking, and then arrived Hanna, a Finnish friend also met during this same volunteering. The adventure would now go on with her!
Visiting from one chocolate shop to another
Tuesday 5th March 2019
Let’s go for a more extensive visit of Quito. We first went to a chocolate shop where Hanna had a coffee. The chocolates’ prices were out of our range (9,50$ one bar!) but it was nonetheless attracting.
We did a bit of grocery shopping that we dropped off at the hostel, before going on with our visit.
We first went to the Basilica Sagrada del Voto Nacional. We didn’t go inside (it wasn’t free) but stayed outside. Of gothic inspiration, it is still very recent – like very often in South America – as it was open only in 1924!
We then went down to the main square, and explored the surrounding streets. The positive impression that we had the day before got confirmed; the architecture and the atmosphere were really pleasant to stroll. We were not expecting anything, and were even dreading the capital, but it was finally a nice surprise.
We passed by several chocolate shop throughout our stroll, where we enjoyed a lot our tastings, and finally cracked and bought some. It was a luxury but we would certainly enjoy these chocolates during our next treks 😉
We actually learnt that about 4% of the world consumption is a very high quality cacao, precisely used in these chocolates, hence why their high prices.
As we were taking some pictures from a bridge, a robber tried to snatch her phone out of Hanna’s hands. Luckily a man came to rescue her by jumping on the guy and managed to recover the phone.
More fear than harm in the end, but we were both feeling a bit shacked after this incident. We bought a small lunch and went to eat it on the main square, taking some time to regain consciousness.
We then wanted to climb to a viewpoint located in the south, but we didn’t have the feeling anymore and finally stayed in the centre.
There wasn’t any parade for the carnival but many children having fun throwing a kind of soapy foam all around. They caught us a few times and I was not so keen on the chemical smell but it was pretty funny in the end.
We came back to the hostel at the end of the day, already tired of the city. And yet, most of the streets where we had been walking were still closed to traffic!
One day to know Quito would be enough for us. We had surprisingly enjoyed the city but were already looking forward to be back to nature on the following day.
To be continued…
Bus Mindo – Quito: 3.20$, about 2h trip
Bus in Quito: 0.25$ per trip
Bigmum Homestay : 5$ in a 4-bed dorm. Very well located hostel in the historical centre. No cozy common space but comfortable beds and a very good price for the capital.