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The search begins in Quito

January 30, 2012

We’ve been in Quito for 12 days now – a very long time for us to be away from the coast, with no hope of surfing so far inland. What have we been doing here all this time? And why have we voluntarily been depriving ourselves of waves for so long? We’ll answer the former question first…

Quito is  a well-developed city on the slopes of the Andes, with nearly 3 million inhabitants. It’s 9200 feet above sea level, which took a few days to get used to. Locals say that drinking coca tea or chewing the leaves helps you adjust to the altitude faster.

It’s currently winter here, so we’ve been wearing our down jackets and jeans at night. There’s lots to see and do, with scores of museums, churches, plazas and parks, and a good bus system to get around.

There are many city-sponsored photo exhibitions in parks and plazas around town.

We rode the TeleferiQo cable car up to the east side of the Volcan Pichincha. The ride was a little scary, and the top was cold and shrouded in clouds. It was so atmospheric and beautiful, like the moors of Scotland.

There’s an area called the Old Town, where buildings have been left the way they were for hundreds of years.

We visited a few museums, including the Museo de la Ciudad, which has artifacts and exhibits about the way Quito inhabitants lived in previous centuries.

The Panecillo (meaning “small bread”) is one of Quito’s famous landmarks; it’s a hill with a statue of the madonna, visible from many areas of the city.

The Parque Carolina is kind of like Central Park in the middle of Quito. It has a huge skate park, a small lake where we rented a pedal boat, and it’s also home to the Jardin Botanico de Quito.

The botanical garden was one of our favorites in the whole world. It’s medium-sized, but wonderfully designed and contains a wealth of beautiful flowers, plants, and herbs.

We’re staying at the nicest hostel we’ve been to so far, called La Casona De Mario. It’s in a beautiful old Spanish-style mansion in a nice neighborhood called La Floresta. It feels like home — a much nicer version of home.

Every Friday there’s a farmer’s market that sets up in the street beside the hostel. The variety and quality of fruit here in Quito is amazing; Ecuador has very fertile growing areas.

There’s a great little french pastry joint called Cyril’s that we’ve taken to visiting almost every day.  Apparently, our bodies work a lot harder at higher altitudes, so the extra calories are totally justified.

Finally, we come to why we’ve been hanging out so far from the waves for such a long time: we’ve decided to try and buy a little VW campervan (also called a kombi), to travel around South America. Something like this:

We’d like to stay in Peru and Chile longer than the original 3 months, extending it to something like 2 months in Chile and 3 or 4 months in Peru. A campervan would give us the freedom to access uncrowded and hard-to-reach surf spots, and give us a lot of independence.

So we started our search for a van in Quito, and spent quite a lot of time running around to different government agencies trying to figure out what it takes to buy a car and drive through borders as foreigners. In the process, we’ve discovered that VW kombis are few and far between here in Ecuador, and thus, they’re also pretty expensive. We’ve found a lot more kombis for sale and at better prices, advertised in Lima, Peru, so we’re hopping a bus to Lima tomorrow. The great thing about Lima is that we’ll be able to surf right in the city while we’re looking around for a van, and going through the paperwork once we buy it. The wave forecast is for 6 feet at 16 seconds. We can’t wait!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Doris Foo permalink
    January 30, 2012 11:17 pm

    Beautiful photos again. How could you include those pastries? Now I have to get some tomorrow. I’m really happy that you and Michael are seeing and experiencing so many wonderful places and things. Keep safe.
    Love, Mum Doris.

    • January 31, 2012 12:22 am

      I wonder where you can get pastries as good as cyril’s. Maybe if you go to Duc de Lorraine. I wish I could send you some! Love you mom!

  2. January 30, 2012 11:21 pm

    wow! 6′ @ 16 sounds amazing…
    send pics of that please…
    good luck on the kombi hunt!

  3. TED LANG permalink
    January 31, 2012 4:36 pm

    Does that mean that every 16 secs, there is another 6′ wave? Yikes, thats rough boating. No watersking for you two. That was fun when you came to “The Land” North of Kingston.
    You must come again. I agree, showing those treats was not kind but I just had a home made Ginger Snap and fresh coffee so I’m OK.
    Snow last night and the snow plow came and now 6 Deg C and rain forecast. A January to remember.
    Much Love
    Ted and Elizabeth

  4. Todd permalink
    January 31, 2012 9:58 pm

    Thanks! After all these years, a mystery solved from the lyrics to “Down Under” — “Traveling in a fried-out kombi / on a hippie trail, head full of zombie…”

  5. February 2, 2012 11:32 pm

    Thanks for the pictures. It is fun traveling with you via my armchair!
    Some desserts! You will have to surf off the extra calories. A good thing that I don’t like chocolate! The camper van will be a totally different experience. I can hardly wait to see Lima Peru.

    Fairfield is having Spring in February! People jogging in shorts and everyone going without coats. My poor little bulbs in the garden are all confused and starting to grow. It is like Victoria. It is supposed to get colder by the end of the week. We keep waiting for Winter but enjoying the warmth knowing that Fairfield can pull some pretty dramatic changes in weather.

    Keep happy and healthy. Lets talk soon.

    Love,
    Momma

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