HI!!! We made it to South America! Our first stop is Quito. We choose Quito because it's a 4.5 hour bus ride from Merazonia, the jungle animal rehabilitation lodge we are volunteering at beginning tomorrow. Chris has also been before and liked it, so there ya go. Quito sits at 9,300 feet and is the second highest capital city in the world. That means a couple of things-no matter where you look in any direction there are beautiful, lush mountains staring right back at you and for the first couple of days here, you battle altitude sickness. It's a beautiful city for sure. We never really decided on it, but our time here turned into a tour of the city parks. Among Quito's amazing parks is Parque Metropolitano, the largest urban park in South America. It covers over 1300 acres-that's almost twice the size of New York's Central Park. The parks are all beautiful and filled with so many people, that eating cotton candy while people watching took up more time that anything else we did.
Views of El Panecillo from the top of Basilica Del Voto Nacional.
Pretty tree lined streets around the parks.
Meat. Meat everywhere.
In addition to the parks, Quito has some pretty cool museums. I go to those because I am really smart and cultured, OK?! Ok maybe I am not, so we only went to one. We toured the house (and amazing art collection) of Oswaldo Guayasamin. I had no idea who he was before we went, but it was really fascinating and I am so glad we did. The house itself was worth the tour - he and his brother designed it in the 70's. It feels like a retreat with windows everywhere, an outdoor pool with an amazing view and antique cars in the driveway. Being in that beautiful place made me want to paint something (probably a flower).
By far my favorite part of Quito was getting out of the city and hiking Rucu Pichincha. The volcano towers over the city and we had been looking at it since we arrived, so it was awesome to be up there looking down. It was also the most drunk I have ever felt. At 9,300 feet I call it altitude sickness, but at 15,000 feet I call it "Cra Cra Cra Crazy legs don't wanna go HEAD SO BIG" sickness. At one point Chris left me sitting on the trail, because let's face it- I don't "exercise" often, I don't ""get my heart rate up" unless I'm looking at pictures of Brian Williams (hubba hubba), I don't "breath heavily by choice" unless there is an emergency, so he was way faster than me and I insisted he go ahead...ok, where was I? Oh, yeah. So I'm sitting on the trail seeing spots, feeling like I just might be able to fly and all I want is a drink of water. I am trying to get our backpack open to get the water out of the bag and I Can. Not. Do. It. Seriously, I remember picking up one of my hands with the other hand and laying it near the zipper of the bag, in hopes that my fingers would find their way. Once they do, I have to use the fingers on one hand to pinch the fingers on the other hand around the zipper of the bag and pull. Then I lay down for a few minutes out of sheer exhaustion. Long story short, it took what felt like 20 minutes to get the water out of the bag and gather the strength needed to pop the lid open and squirt the water towards my mouth. Meanwhile a 4 year old girl was in my line of site HIGHER ON THE MOUNTAIN THE ME playing fairy princess with a stick. She's used to the elevation is what I keep telling myself. I'd like to see her come to sea level and function normally! I dare you, little girl who can breath so easily!
All in all Quito was great, but I think we are both ready for the jungle. Bring on the jungle noise alarm clock!
Street in Old Town, Quito.
By the time we saw this sign it was too late. We were robbed. JUST KIDDING! There were two cops on the street that gave us a thumbs up, so we went on our merry way.
We were watching the people. The people were watching some street performers.
Stray roggies every where.
View of Quito from Rucu Pichincha.
As we made our way down, the clouds around the peak finally lifted!