Hasta luego, Quito!

Yesterday was the last day in Quito. 😦 I was supposed to leave 2 days ago but I just couldn’t leave this place. Not only is it so beautiful here, but I also met some amazing people in my hostel and they wouldn’t let me leave. I have never felt so welcomed in a hostel before. I arrived here thinking that I wanted to see as many places as possible in the amount of time I have here, but instead I gained some new friends and fell in love with a city. Sometimes it’s not what you see but the experiences you have and the people that you meet that make a trip worth it. It was hard to leave but I’ll be back 1 more day before I fly back to the States.535A5661-7B6A-47AB-966A-A1E59912844E

The last few days I have done a lot with my new amigos from the hostel. On Saturday, we took the Teleférico up to Volcán Pichincha.FD979428-7EDC-46BA-B37B-5F77A678BCE1

Not a lot to say except more incredible views of Quito. I think I’ve gotten a view of the city from a ton of different angles now. CA9AD2B3-52B5-40AF-9EDF-AB2FD8F31310

Found a little hut at the top of the mountain.   E79F913A-C0AE-4EB8-B9A7-AA56D2813ED6

After taking the fast-moving cable car down the mountain, we went straight to the Basilica del voto nacional in the colonial part of Quito.  Hay tantas iglesias en esta ciudad!   81C9E340-14E2-496E-90D2-64EA0D75B1CD

Otra vista desde la Basilica.  24ECA5A8-5910-461E-B7C1-54FCA63C4F3A

Tomando un café en una plaza.   65B3C201-8D10-4F24-835C-1F3D9B541857

The food here is so cheap (if you find the right place)! Everything below was $2.00! 88387406-81EA-4FE0-9E00-59C726AD8B8B

Monday, we went to la plaza grande to see the changing of the guards at the Palacio Nacional. This was a unique cultural experience for me. I’ve never even seen this in London. It is such an ordeal and they do it every week!  It was awesome though – there was a band playing, lots of guards, and school children sitting out front and singing the national anthem with them. The vice president of Ecuador even came out to greet us. E09D1ED9-156C-455B-9E0E-1B8778E7314AE99B89D3-F544-4516-B943-E11B622B0536

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I really couldn’t have picked a better place to stay while I was here. At first I was bummed that I wouldn’t be able to live with a host family during my stay in Ecuador, but this hostel was definitely the next best thing. I would highly recommend Community Hostel to anyone planning a trip to Quito. It really has a community feel (hence the name) and the people that run the hostel are amazing. I will definitely be back here!  4B5AD0C1-043F-4CB5-BC71-CF859F215577

I leave you with the sunset over San Blas, Quito.1EAC53EB-E535-471C-B8DF-77B4064A59BF

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La mitad del mundo

Today we ventured out to la Mitad del mundo, otherwise known as the Equator. We got a large group together comprised of people staying at the Community Hostel (my idea). We had to take two city buses to get out there. The city bus out here costs…wait for it… $0.25 per ride ($0.50 for an hour and a half bus ride)! When the bus gets full however, you may end up with a random Ecuadorian child on your lap. You give some you take some23CADA93-ED9B-458A-B634-AA2E6E1D7632The trip was a little bumpy (and my thigh was asleep after 45 minutes of a 5-year-old sitting on it), but it was really cool to touch the equator. I met some fun Irish girls in the hostel. It is nice to have some travel buddies while I am here. They really want to live in NY so I’m trying to convince them to move to Brooklyn.A6648E47-7816-4CF4-9C1D-C26273BEC4D5

I thought it was supposed to be hot at the Equator. I was misled. It was about 75 degrees here, and as we hiked higher up the volcano nearby, I had to put on my jacket. The weather here varies so much in a day. My taxi driver called Quito the place where you get “las cuatro estaciones en un día” – It can feel like fall, winter, spring, and summer over the course of one day.86F778D3-E19F-41F9-98D0-60DE87BF97F3

We had to take a group photo on the Equator. Can you find me? I’m in the Northern Hemisphere. 1FB2D31B-9549-4724-8F59-07BB9A8B945A

After taking pictures of the yellow line, we continued our excursion to the Volcanic Crater, Pululahua, which is inactive and actually has inhabitants. There is fertile land, a school and a hostel IN the crater! The school had 12 children and 1 teacher that commuted 2 hours and a small hike from Quito every day. My hour subway ride doesn’t seem so bad compared to that.5D12CE89-74FF-4FE8-9160-A6061B20B95A Our guide gave us all of this interesting information about the crater. The volcano in the background is still active.

When we got back to the city, a couple of people that work at the hostel took us on a food tour around Old Town Quito. It was mostly fried stuff but the night walk was really nice. This is a picture of La Ronda in the colonial part of Quito.474994D0-1D92-477A-8D62-0DAFC4779EC2

Sharing a giant empanada de queso. Se llama empanada de viento. That is the actual size. Biggest empanada I’ve ever seen.F316458A-FF4B-40D5-BF30-90DCAB627626

On the way back to the hostel, we passed a girl leaving her Quinceañera. 🙂 Que linda era!DED6E43B-47BD-42DE-BD7A-772653E0F5E9

Llegue a Ecuador!

I have finally arrived in Quito, Ecuador for my Fund For Teachers summer fellowship! It was a painless flight, despite the small injury I traveled with on my left hand. Thanks to my glass table breaking right before my trip, I will be sporting this red-pepper shaped middle finger for my first few days here. Maybe it will make a “Flat Stanley” appearance in some of my photos.BE441C76-43BB-41C1-AAD7-F709B00ACE1C

 

It was an early flight. I left my house at 4:30am. Got to see the sunrise from the beautiful NJ Turnpike. Hadn’t seen that in years.573F0588-9EFC-4984-85FF-002956AA3C8F

I had a layover in Panama City during which I pondered leaving the airport for a bit. When we were arriving in Panama, the view from the plane was nothing to write home about. However, the view upon landing in Quito was awesome. I may have accidentally turned my phone on during landing to take a photo which I know is frowned upon, but I couldn’t pass up the photo op. Then I realized I have a real camera with me.EEBE529C-0A1C-48A5-AAD4-FDE252050024The hostel I am staying in arranged for their driver to pick me up from the airport. Upon exiting the customs line, Don Omar (the Community Hostel chauffer, not the Reggaeton artist) was waiting there to bring me to the hostel. He gave me  a quick tour of the city on the way there. I am already in love with this city and excited to see it in daylight! (It gets dark here around 6 apparently.)52576D89-D1E0-4135-9797-5A06E98D3AAC

He insisted on taking a picture of me in front of this church. Now you know I’m REALLY here.D5139118-6938-4C89-B1A9-5329941FBC4E

We arrived to the hostel about an hour later – after a brief night tour and a lot of conversing in Spanish. (Don Omar loves that I speak Spanish.) He gave me some great ideas on how I should spend my time while in Quito which is going to be really helpful. This place is great! Exactly what I needed: Kitchen, community table, living room with a projector, and daily activities to get involved with.EBFD5D54-E2E4-47D6-8681-99A0EBC5E061

The room is basic but good enough for me. It also has a sweet balcony with another great view.F29D8878-E617-4320-A276-02E6E58C1F63

Tomorrow I will take on Quito by day! Me va a gustar este pais. 🙂