Quiet contemplation in Quito

I left Terra Brasilis in the early light (not quite “British Time”: I was 5 mins late!) and after a breakfast of coffee and cake at the airport with a nice lady from Buenos Aires, boarded the plane for the first of the day’s 3 flights. Ugh!

A man asked me to switch seats, which put me next to a nice guy from California who’s been living in Bs As for 4 years, Dan. I’d realised two things as I sat down: that I only had a boarding pass for the first flight, rather than through to Quito, and that I didn’t have my travel sickness tablets to hand! Time for some mindful thinking; don’t panic, I’m sure it’ll be fine! As we circled before entering Uruguayan airspace (for some unexplained reason) Dan started talking to me and said TAM and LAN airlines don’t work with each other, it’s normal, just enter Argentina and then leave again straight away, explain at immigration. Thankfully I didn’t feel ill either! Instead I focussed on telling Dan that he should definitely stay living in Bs As, not move to Stressful London where he’d just come from… In the airport I was full of thoughts of my last visit here, Sandra, and all the Patagonia Dreamers!

For the next flights, I finally got a window seat, hurray! Flying westwards across the continent following the sunset and watching the beautiful layered hills and valleys go by was probably the most pleasant flight I have ever taken and put me in a contemplative mood, irresistibly smiling and feeling very calm in the silence, which I often avoid at home by putting on ‘groundhog day radio’ but here it was lovely!

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One change of passengers in Guayaquil later, I was finishing the 3rd flight in Quito, with a magic feeling looking down at the city lights and knowing the mountains were there in the darkness! As arranged, a little man (it always has to be a ‘little man’!) was there to pick me up and I was proud of myself for conversing only in (basic) Spanish with him the whole way! 🙂

I’m staying with Sofia who runs the spanish school, and her family in their B&B home. They’re lovely and caring, speaking to me mostly in Spanish but able to understand English when I’m stuck, cooking me breakfasts and dinners and then leaving me to get on. But it’s a total contrast to Rio! Very quiet in the house, and there’s only 1 other student at the school at the moment too. It’ll be a slow start but it’s fine, I remind myself that I have plenty of time and there’s no need to worry about a few days of comparative solitude!

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Still, a few stories:
I went to the supermarket to get lunch on the first day and bought what I thought was pieces of melon in a bag: took a bite, and nope, it was a savoury veg, sambo tierno!

After dinner (nice enough, not quite to my taste for the first couple of days but it was fine and Carmen puts a lot of effort in) I was served strawberries and cream. Made me think of England, especially as it’s Wimbledon time!

The sink in the bathroom leaks a bit from the stand so the floor is sometimes wet, and I keep forgetting and getting wet socks!

It’s pointless looking at the weather forecast here!

There is a LOT of traffic on the main streets, which brings lots of fume smells and noise. A person’s car registration means that on a given day of the week they’re not allowed to drive in rush hour. But wealthy-enough people get around this by having two cars…

So far, I like papaya, brazilian beans, babaco, watermelon juice, and humitas. The street corners have people cooking, so it can suddenly smell like chargrilled corn or banana.

You can only activate a Claro SIM card by successfully calling another number on the same network. (?!?) Thank goodness for Sofia helping me!

British evening language courses are shockingly poor. In my level-assessment test I didn’t know how to conjugate a single verb!! Very likely the worst performance in a test in my life!! But I made sure I wasn’t telling myself I had to do well: this was not judgement, this was just so they can work out how best to help me get by on my travels. Mindfulness, mindfulness. Here are some pictures inside the little school, and from the first real bit of sightseeing.

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The BasĂ­lica from my room:

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The state room where all the decisions get made:

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The British CNN journalists who were in the Palacio de Carondelet with us, asking not-particularly-insightful questions, in my humble opinion:

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The Plaza Grande in panoramic:

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The BasĂ­lica with my teacher, Patricia:

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Posted in Ecuador, How I'm feeling, Quito
2 comments on “Quiet contemplation in Quito
  1. tampino says:

    Thanks for bringing me over to you with smell of street corner food… aromas are so powerful… can transport you over many miles and back through time. I spent many summers with my nan and granddad in the school holidays so many aromas can take me back there… the most powerful is when my dad used to pick me up to take me home… he was always freshly shaven, and it must have been the smell of the shaving foam and aftershave… whenever I smell that aroma, it transports me back…..
    Lovely to see you are meeting lots of nice people on your travels. X

  2. I agree, all the senses help with bringing you to a place, but especially smell. Songs often take me back somewhere too. Any time I hear Little Mix – Wings (right?) now I’ll be back in the taxi on the way up to the TelefĂ©riQo!

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