Before the day trip, on Thursday, we went to a little neighborhood called Guápulo for drinks. Peter’s teacher told him about it. It’s way up the side of the mountain, near a cathedral. We had an address but the cab driver couldn’t find it. He almost killed a motorcyclist when he took a one-way road the wrong way. That was scary. Anyway, the cab driver gave up (there’s only so much a cab driver will do for six bucks) and dropped us off in front of the cathedral. We had to figure it out from there. We wandered around for a while and it was pretty desolate and I was thinking, “Oh, this can’t be safe.” We asked one person for directions and they said the place we were looking for was behind the cathedral, but the only thing behind the cathedral was this dreadful looking flight of steps. So Peter said, with some authority, “We have to climb these.” (Honestly, I think he knew that if he hadn’t said it with authority, I wouldn’t have done it.)

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Our Routine Here in Quito

Monday through Friday: Wake up at 7:30 am and try to make our own coffee. Apparently, Ecuadorians are not huge on coffee, which is strange considering they grow so much of it. If you go into one of the little places to eat—and they’re all pretty much ‘little places to eat’—they’ll make you a hot steaming cup of… brace for it… INSTANT COFFEE. That’s their idea of coffee. Blech. Ever had café con leche with instant coffee? No? You’re lucky. I don’t even have the words to describe how bad it is so you know it’s awful. And woe is you if you forget to yell out, “Sin sucre!” before they dump at least three tablespoons of sugar into it. There’s no coffee pot in this apartment so I’m still experimenting with a decent method for making coffee without having to buy something. Monday’s coffee was a disaster; muddy and tasteless, though still better than instant. Tuesday’s was better, but still pretty bad. I might have to google “how to make coffee without a pot” to get some ideas. We do have this stuff we bought in the mercado outside Bogotá. I may have mentioned it but it’s chocolate, coffee beans, and some toasted grains ground up into a powder. You add it to hot milk and it’s awesome, but sadly, it’s not enough caffeine for me to stave off my caffeine headache.

Back to our routine…

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Getting to Quito

We woke up early to take a taxi to the collectivo by the bus station. Collectivos are way cheaper than buses. Basically, they have a destination, you get on, you wait for them to sell all the seats and then off you go. They can be anything from a taxi to a minivan, to a minibus to a full, fledged bus. When we walked into the collectivo station, there were about ten windows of different collectivo companies, all barking out their destinations. The one we wanted was Ipiales. “Ipiales. Ipiales. Ipiales. Ipiales.” It was crazy. I have no idea why Peter chose the one he chose. Probably that guy yelled the loudest. The trick to not getting car sick in a collectivo is to sit in the front seat. They’re usually set up for two people to sit real close in the passenger side. Otherwise, winding roads, exhaust fumes and bumpy roads will do your stomach in.

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I would like to say that our decision to go to South America was not made lightly, but that’s just not the case. It was a mom-appeasement decision.

We were initially planning a trip to Mexico, specifically, San Cristobal de las Casas. It’s in the Southern part of Mexico, near Pelenque and the border of Guatemala. They have good language schools there and we love Mexico. However, the parental units were freaking out about us going to the “most dangerous place on earth,” which, if you read the newspapers, is Mexico. Continue reading