We’ve been in Quito for just over a week now and are starting to get into a routine.
We wake up around 6 or 6:30…later than we did back in Albuquerque, but very early for most of the folks in our hostel. If there is hot water, we take a shower in the mornings. If not, we try again after breakfast or in the afternoon. Breakfast is included at our hostel and is served from 7-10am. It’s fairly spartan: coffee (which Kathy has drunk every single morning we’ve been here…and lived to tell the tale), oatmeal, toast, and milk. Some days there is also fruit, fresh jugo, and yogurt, but it really depends on the day. We have oatmeal & toast most mornings.
Our Spanish school, Guayasamin Spanish School, is just around the corner and our lessons start at 8:30. It takes us about a minute to walk over there. We work with our tutors from 8:30-11 am and then take a 30 minute break. We usually sit out on the patio and have a snack. Then lessons resume at 11:30 and last until 1:30. Our school is fantastic and we’re really happy we picked it. The people are incredibly nice and we’re learning so much so quickly. We feel that having private one on one lessons for each of us was definitely the right decision.
At 1:30 we head to one of the neighborhood restaurants for almuerzo (lunch). Here in Quito, the most popular lunch is called Menu Ejecutivo and consists of 3 courses: First course is sopa (soup), followed by a main course of meat/chicken/fish, which also includes arroz y ensalada, and then postre (dessert for those of you playing at home) and fresh jugo. The menu changes daily depending on what is fresh and available and the entire meal costs anywhere from $2-$4 depending on the restaurant. Our favorite restaurant is just around the corner from our escuela and is called Aromas y Sabores. Lunch there for the two of us costs $6 total.
After lunch we usually take a walk and explore someplace new in Quito. Our profesoras give us lots of suggestions on things to check out…yesterday we went to a heladeria that was suggested. We also usually hit up a panaderia on these walks for fresh bread and pastries. A huge freshly baked croissant filled with chocolate and banana costs about 50 centavos here (50 cents, as Ecuador uses US currency). Sometimes we go and hang out in one of the parks nearby and read and people watch.
In the late afternoon, we head back to our hostel to study. We spend about 2-3 hours per day studying and doing homework. We also read, check email and facebook, edit photos, do laundry, do research on upcoming destinations, figure out where to go for the weekend, or take a siesta.
In the evenings we either go out for dinner someplace in the neighborhood, or we cook something in our hostel. Our hostel has 2 kitchens that we can use and we often cook dinner here at home. We’re usually the only people actually cooking dinner….most hostel guests are eating fast food takeout or just drinking beer. Beer is very cheap here. A 587 ml bottle of Pilsener (an Ecuadoran beer) is about $1.50.
After dinner, we hang out in the lounge of our hostel and chat with other people staying here, or we watch a movie on our laptop, or do more studying. We’re usually exhausted by about ten or 10:30.
So that’s the basic routine for the Watts Duo these days. We’re really enjoying ourselves. We’re amazed at how well our Spanish is coming along, even after just 5 days, and we’re really starting to get our bearings and feel like we know our way around. It’s always fun to figure out things about a new place: Where is the closest supermarket? Where can we buy contact lens solution? Who makes the best and cheapest croissants? Where is a reliable and safe atm? Where are the best frutas sold?
Tomorrow morning, we are headed about 2 hours south of here to Cotopaxi National Park, home to the Avenue of the Volcanos. We’ll be hiking part of Cotopaxi, which is the highest active volcano in the world. Our hike starts at about 4500m and we’ll hike from there to the refugio at about 5,000m. We have the opportunity to then ride bicycles back down but we think it might be best to try and avoid injury since we’re hiking the Inca Trail in a month, so we’ll most likely take the bus back down. Then we’ll spend the night in a hosteria in the area and on Sunday will go to Laguna Quilotoa, which is a lake that formed in one of the calderas here high in the Andes. It’s about a 45 minute hike down into the caldera and we can then choose to either hike back up or take mules. We’ll see what happens, but will be back next week with a recap.
Tienes un fin de semana fantastico!
P.S. I’m in the process of updating our flickr feed, so soon you’ll be able to look at all of our photos from the sidebar, in real time as we upload them daily. Stay tuned.