Dropping down through the clouds after 11hours in the air, our first view of Ecuador induced a sense of deja vu – the grey skies, rain, and green landscape looked like home.
But fear not, the mountains were a giveaway, we had not been going around in circles. Our 19 hour journey was nearing its end. We’d begun at 4am, Heathrow T4, where it was raining. Never seen it so empty, even the shops were closed. 18 hours later, via Amsterdam, we”d cleared immigration and customs in Quito nice and easy, and our ride to the hostal awaited us.
Rather jet lagged, with stiff legs, we settled into the back of the cab and even managed a basic chat with our driver…football was a topic he was keen on. What followed was a 70minute white-knuckle ride through the rush hour of greater-Quito. The brand new airport is only some 20+km outside the city, and the first 10min on a new 3-lane highway was easy-peasy. Then it dropped to 1 lane…..
The tarmac quality dropped, the roads became steeper, and narrower, buildings teetered on steep hillsides above us, and only the bolshie drivers got anywhere quickly. Ours did and more than earned the $30 fee. About 6pm we arrived at our booked hostal in the barrio of San Blas, on the edge of Quito’s historic old town, overlooked by Parque Itchimbia.
Our online booking worked, we had a double room, with a cloud-shrouded mountain to the west. A friendly Irish guy, with good Spanish, showed us around. We decided to take a quick stroll as darkness descended, to stretch our stiff legs. The local streets were now quite empty, the buildings a mix of newish, old, very old, and almost-falling-down. They were also rather steep and we experienced the impact of the altitude difference at 3000m.
We went back to the hostal, had a beer & smoke, and hit the bed. It was 9pm on 22 January Quito time, but 2am on the 23rd for our body clocks, we’d been on the go 23hours and we were shattered. But we’d made it at last!