Quito

It’s the kind of place that makes me feel like I must carry a camera and a concealed weapon with me wherever I go. We’ve been here five days now, and it slowly, so slowly, I’m adjusting to city life. The way I figure it, I’ll be at peace with the incessant bustling, beeping, tumultuous clamor of it all by the time we have to board our plane on Saturday.

Here’s a little background for those of you unfamiliar with this part of the world. Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and nestled snuggly in the Andes mountains at an altitude of 9360 ft, it’s the second highest national capital in the world, and technically, the world’s highest capital, La Paz, Bolivia, isn’t really the constitutional capital, but that’s just quibbling, really. Quito, despite being located almost smack dab on the Equator, is fairly cool, at least this time of year. It warms up during the day, but can be very chilly at night. I packed all our warm clothes, but that’s not saying much since the island life has left us with hardly a long sleeve between us. Though I had inured myself to the life of cold showers, here in Quito, warm water is a must. Thank goodness our hotel has a water heater (even if it is fairly unreliable one).

Quito has a population of 2.1 million (to put that into perspective, the population of San Cristóbal is about 6000, or about .006 million, and the population of the state of Utah, where we were living before coming to South America, is 2.8 million). During the day there are people milling about everywhere. It is definitely the most affluent area that I’ve been to in Ecuador, and the mall here makes me feel like I’m back home in the states (most everything is written in English there). Actually, I feel painfully under-dressed walking around there, since my only warm clothes are a hoodie and jeans. The city has its share of mendicants and other unfortuantes hawking everything from dinner mints and the daily newspaper, to mops, lawn ornaments, and clothing. They’re seated on street corners, meandering through parks, and often strolling between lanes of traffic.

Do I like Quito? Yes, I think I must say I do, if only because of the abundance of things here that we have been without for 3 months. Clear, reliably running water? Yes, please! Carpets?! My little girl threw herself down on the floor and crawled around for a good ten minutes when we first got to the hotel room. But the real show stopper was the produce section at the grocery store. I had to hold myself back, since we’re only going to be here two weeks. But seriously, plump, juicy blackberries for $0.90 a pint, how could I resist? Leeks, spinach, lettuce, celery: I never would have thought of these as luxuries until now. And beyond the variety I had to choose from, the quality was far superior to what we find in our open-air market in San Cristóbal.

But do I miss the island. Definitely yes. I know my husband was worried that once we got off the island, we might not want to go back, considering the hardships that we have to deal with there. But I miss it. I miss the home we’ve made there for ourselves. I miss the lush beauty that I’ve come to expect at every corner. I miss the gargling, burping, brawling sea lions. I miss watching the tide rise and fall, and feeling the ocean breeze, and knowing that I’m a part of it all. I’m excited to get back. There are some small home renovations and some new furniture that await us there. There are a few more residency roadblocks to overcome before we can go back, but hopefully, we’ll be home before too long.

Have a wonderful day, in whatever part of the world you call home!

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