Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Report # 12

Well, it is now Sunday arvo in sunny Quito at 2850 mts - that is about 9500 ft. (Bogota was 8500, not 8000 that I said). Travelled all night on Thurs to arrive at border town arrived 0500. met a very poor Peruviam man who is a car parking guy who had sat all night in terminal as had no money for hotel just his fare to Quito. We chatted and I gave him some choc and lent him $5 not expecting to see it again(!!). Got colective taxi 2 kms to Ecuador town went thru Immigartion - at least i did; they suspected him of going in to work so detained him for a while. I left and agreed to wait 1 hr at terminal. He didnt make it poor guy. So I came on alone. They have buses every 30-60 mins for Quito about 250-300 km, cost $4.50 (!!). Ecuador is incrediblky cheap despite the use of US dollar. - it used to be even cheaper!. The scenery in Colombia was all hilly - no, mountainous - and green and lush and wet. I didnt see the last 300 km as was night but it was twisty. However from the border on the land is dry dry dry and arid and totally treeless. Very mountainous and twisty road and temp varies as you go up and down over ranges. and Quito is squashed in between big hills on both sides so is long and narrow nth to sth. Has volcano to the west which erupted 6-8 yrs ago. Very hilly city and dry and dusty.

By the way have to relate my first bad news - the street kids beat me today - got my camera from its pouch on my belt in front while they jostled me. Group of 5-6 kids 6-10 yrs old pretending to sell something. Did it all within 5 mts of walking!! I cornered 4 of them immediately and frisked them but they were clean and said it was another kid. Got a police report for insurance but have lost the fotos of the last week - maybe 50-60 , basically Colombia. Will try to get new camera here before i leave.

To other travellers - if the kids are touching you physically at all then they are stealing - especially if there is more than one kid and they are actually pushing the products against you. Grab all your pouches/valuables and kick the kids away - do it immediately - do not be hesitant nor wishy-washy.

Back to the story. I chose a cheap hotel from the book and luckily it is near the terminal and in the Old City which is UN heritage and very pretty. The new city so called is to the north - all one continuous thing of course, and is the tourist area, called Mariscal, where all the cafes have English names and all the USA tourists go - also where I got done today!!

Have lost contact with the Dutch couple but may meet again as they are heading same direction.

So arrived late Friday - completely beat after some 20 hrs on the go. Rested, went and ate, home and relaxed before early night and slept 9 hrs in a real bed not hard 1-inch mattresses as has been for last few weeks.

Sat was up and looking for b/fast shops and laundry. Found dozens of cafes - "greasy-spoons" in Aussie - where b/fast lunch/dinner(tea) all cost only $1 - can you believe it!! In Mariscal they cost $2.50-$4. Spent long time looking for laundry but all closed for weekend. By the way would you believe the Friday was Independence Day so most shops were closed!!! Happens every time! Arranged to meet a friend of Jenny K in arvo - in Mariscal, as no parking in old part of town. So went to Mariscal and found all the laundries and met Joanne - lovely Uk lady married to local with 3 kids - all well behaved and spoken and bilingual. Joanne speaks lovely standard English but is not fully bilingual in Spanish. She reminds me of Geraldine a bit - few yrs younger. She may get some contacts for me for later - would be good as it would be lovely to stay with some genuine locals.

Home late arvo and did some PC work getting a selection of fotos onto the PC here and tehn tried to email to Mary but desperastely slow. However today I sent them all via Messenger (much quicker!!) so hopefullly they will all go on blog page soon.

So today, Sunday, went to Mariscal to leave laundry and then wanted to go the the equator which is 23 kms north of Quito. Had to get 2 buses and total of 1 hr to get there. It is a big complex with museum , planetaruim, etc and monument on spot. Got my foto taken but guess where that is now!! The bus catching is somewhat scary - the buses have 4-6 names on front but hey are suburbs I have no idea about and often weird native names. So it is scary not knowing which to catch nor where to get off. But a kindly and pretty lady trafico officer got me on the right first bus and told driver what I needed so he told me where to get off and how to get next one. All done sucessfully - except for camera. Spent an hour getting to police and making report. They told me there is a mini mafia of kids run by adults and almost impossible to catch - kids steal and pass to someone else maybe an adult and then they are clean. as was the case today.

My plan now is to get new camera if available and then head south towards Peru. May stop to view some of the many volcanos- there is one near BaƱos which is currently erupting and all the tourists are visiting it. Will check it out. Quito has its own volcano visible to the west which erupted about 6-8 yrs ago.

Have been at PC for nearly 3 hrs so will leave this for now and amend or add later with comparisons and more comments about Quito.

Cheers to all.