A Dry Journey to the Middle of the Earth

Next stop on DonQui’s ‘round the world’ trip is Quito, capital of Ecuador. 

Quito is the only city on the world to more or less sit on the equator — its position marked by the Mitad del Mundo (middle of the world) monument. Unfortunately modern GPS readings show that the monument is a couple of hundred metres out of place! Although one of the closest places on the planet to the sun, the city’s location in the Andes at an altitude of 2800m gives a relatively mild temperature with frequent short afternoon thunderstorms blowing in from the surrounding mountains. 

Donqui has managed to find an excellent inexpensive apartment on airbnb in the old town with a fabulous view. It is close enough to the centre for him to walk everywhere and be where he wants to be in a matter of minutes.

The little package of coca leaves are a thoughtful gift from the host. They are said to help with altitude sickness as well as having other medicinal benefits. Donqui rather enjoys a tea he makes with them. Unfortunately thanks to the small cocaine content he is not allowed to bring some back to the UK. 

Wandering around the streets of the old city Donqui is amazed by the architecture…

There seems to be an over-the-top baroque church or colonial era palace around every corner.

The streets team with life and street vendors are everywhere.

Donqui does not quite have the courage to sample a bit of the pig’s head although he does try some fried corn from another vendor and it is very good.

With monumental poor timing, DonQui has arrived on the weekend of an election (voting is compulsory in Ecuador). There is a slight festive air on the streets and police are everywhere. All this is fine but the real problem is that an election law bans the sale of alcohol for the entire length of DonQui’s stay in the capital. He hopes he will be able to make it. The coca tea is certainly helping.

Everyone DonQui meets is very friendly and helpful. The city feels safe to wander around (although he is warned not to do this after dark). Not many people speak much English but DonQui’s rusty Spanish is getting polished and Google Translate helps a lot.

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