Day 1 and a Stolen Camera-Arriving in Quito, Ecuador

We got a flight from Auckland to Quito on Thursday 21st October. We left Auckland at 5pm (NZ Local time) and we arrived in Quito at 9pm on October 21st. We had a stop over in Santiago (Chile) and we also touched down in Guayaquil (Ecuador). We were so tired when we arrived in Quito as we’d been travelling for a total of 22 hours. It was so confusing arriving in Quito just 4 hours later than when we left Auckland, because of the time difference.

Our flight into Chile was beautiful, taking us over the Andes. We wished that we had booked a few nights in Santiago now, but we didn’t think about it at the time.

We were a little bit nervous about arriving in Ecuador as we’d been back in the Western world for 4 months (Australia and New Zealand). We loved our time in Asia and we were sad when it came to leave. At first we found it strange being in Australia as we were no longer being starred at and things were ‘normal’ again. I guess we missed the unfamiliarity of Asia. However after a few days went by, you start to slip back and relax. It was nice having 4 months where we could just enjoy every place we went to and most of the time, feel fairly safe.

We decided to do a lot of research about South America, just so we could be prepared for things that may happen when we are there. So we both felt pretty prepared for the situations that we could be in.

Arriving in Quito was actually quite a breeze. We got off the plane and went through passport control with no problem. You get a 90 visa on arrival (free of charge) if you are from the UK and Ireland and several other places…check projectvisa.com for more information. You are given a stamp on arrival with the date marked in your passport.

We had a hotel booked, as we knew we were arriving late, so we got a pre-paid taxi to our hotel. There is a cash machine just outside of the airport and the taxi booth is just on the inside, as you come out of baggage claim. The local currency is the US dollar. You pay for the taxi at the booth and then they show you to your taxi. We had read a few scams that go on with taxi’s. One is that they tell you that the taxi is broken down and ask if you will help get out and push it-then they drive off with your bags in the taxi! Well lucky for us we arrived at the hotel fine.

We are staying in the old town of Quito in a hotel called ‘Hotel Real Audiencia’. We are just staying here for a couple of nights as it’s a little expensive for what we can get here, but we wanted the first 2 nights to be comfortable. Our hotel is in a really nice location, with mountains around us and we are right near the square of the old town.

We were both extremely tired when we got in so we got to sleep straight away. We woke up this morning at about 7.30am with banging headaches, we were unsure about weather it was just because we were tired, but then we remembered that Quito is actually over 9,000 ft above sea level. It says in a lot of the books we’ve read that you can suffer from Altitude sickness. We have both felt light headed all day, but I’m sure we’ll adjust soon. We’ve been drinking lot’s of water. It just feels like we are out of breath all the time.

We decided to take an adventure out into the city today, but first we made sure we were all secure. Making sure we only had necessary things on us and that everything else was locked away. So we put our passports and money in the safe and all we took out with us was a little bit of cash (in my bra) and my small camera-which I tied around my waist. So we both felt pretty secure.

First of all we went out to look around the old part of Quito. We loved all the narrow little streets, with brightly coloured buildings. I love all the sounds that you hear when you go to a new place. We could hear people shouting from stalls, cars beeping, trams with music playing from them, people selling fruit and veg.

I’d forgotten how it felt to be starred at. We got used to it in Asia and didn’t mind in the end, but I guess even 6 months in Asia wasn’t enough to get me used to that feeling. As soon as we came out of our hotel it was like we were in the spot light. I thought maybe I could blend in after 8 months of tanning, but no!! haha. We stand out so much. I try not to take the map out so much, just so we can at least blend in a little.

In the afternoon we got a trole (tram) from the old town to the new city of Quito. The trole just costs 25 cent per person, no matter where you are going in the city. The new city is where all the shopping centres are and high rise buildings (and Mc Donalds says Paul). We took a look around the shopping centres there and went to a couple of the markets to look at food prices. That is definitely a positive thins about Ecuador, the price of food is cheap again. You can get a meal for just £1-2 and a bottle of water is just 10-20 cent.

We took the trole back to the old town. It was packed, we were literally like sardines in a can. I hate the feeling of being trapped in, and that’s exactly how it felt. We had 7 stops to go and it was getting more and more packed. I was holding onto my camera as that was the only valuable thing anyone could get from us. Paul felt a woman put her hand in his pocket, but luckily he had nothing in there. I was making sure I was holding the case of my camera as we were getting so close to people. We just had 1 more stop to go and I couldn’t wait to get off. I looked down at the case of my camera was open and the camera had gone!! I was so angry because I’d had my hand on it for the whole time. I couldn’t believe how still someone had managed to get into the case and get the camera without me noticing. I guess they are experts! I tried looking around to see if I noticed it on anyone, but of course they had probably got off by now! In the end I’m just annoyed at myself,  I guess I need to be even more careful! Luckily it only had a few photos on from today and we still have our better camera. I just don’t know how to succesfuly take the camera out without getting stolen and we want to take photos, so it’s a difficult one. Paul is in the process of trying to come up with a solution. He managed to lock the camera up so well that we couldn’t even get it out to take photos, haha. If you have any suggestions please let is know.

So overall it’s a pretty good start to our time in South America! Let’s hope tomorrow is better!

Ruth and Paul

Word of the day= Ladrón! Thief

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