I ended up in Quito quite by accident; actually I had never heard of Quito before November 18th. It happened like this: I arrived two and a half hours early at the Orlando airport with my passport in hand, excited to be off to another amazing adventure. Little did I know it would begin with stress and scrambling to accommodate the airlines. I had done my research and knew that as a US citizen I could visit Colombia for 90 days with a tourist visa which was granted upon landing (requiring no special paperwork). What I didn’t know was that the Colombia airline Avianca had a policy in place that required you to have a ticket in hand proving you were exiting Colombia prior to the 90 day limit. As a result, when I tried to check-in at the airport, they would not give me my boarding pass until I produced proof I was leaving Colombia within the 90 day window. I was given 40 minutes and free wifi to find a flight out of Colombia. The cheapest flight happened to be from Bogota, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador leaving one week after my arrival. In a rush to make my flight, I bought the $150 one-way ticket. The downside of this event was that originally I had planned on spending a few weeks in Colombia visiting a handful of cities. Anyway, that is how I ended up in Quito.
Basilica of the National Row
I’ve been to many churches and cathedrals in my travels, but this was hands down the most impressive piece of architecture I have seen. Built in 1924, this structure is the largest example of neo-gothic architecture in north or south America. As such, it is one of the most interesting things to see in Quito.
Quito is a very, very large city with a population of over 9 million. The ride from the airport to central downtown takes about an hour and costs $25. Most tourists spend their time in the “old city” downtown. I spent several days there just wandering the streets people watching and soaking in the beautiful, rich architecture. On the second to last day there I forgot to take my iPhone with me to capture photos as I wandered far past the basilica and toward the main plaza. It was there that I had an absolutely delightful time wandering the streets around the plaza where there was some absolutely incredible architecture. I really wish I had my camera to show how amazing the area was, but at the same time it was so wonderful I’m happy I was able to enjoy it without the distraction of capturing photos.
Quest for a Camera Battery
I’m not sure if I mentioned my camera took a bit of a dunk in water during my cruise in the Galapagos. The later half of my journey there was documented by photos taken with an iPhone 4 (not the greatest of cameras). After the Galapagos, my primary focus upon landing o the mainland in Quito was to get my camera working again. My best guess was the battery had somehow been damaged by the salt water. So, I spent the best part of two days looking for a camera battery for my Nikon Coolpix. Apparently Canon and Panasonic are common here, but not Nikon. With the help of the hostel owner, we called about six electronic stores trying to find the battery. None had it nor had ideas of where to find one. Finally, at the recommendation of the hostel owner and a girl working at the hostel, I took a taxi down to the district with electronic stores and went store-to-store asking about the battery. This was great practice for my Spanish skills as I learned new works like “buscar” (to search/seek). One about the fifth or sixth store we found a electronic shop who was able to get a generic version of the battery from their warehouse for delivery the next day for $18 (by way of reference, you can buy the same battery on Amazon for $8 or two batteries with a charger for $13). Even at double the rate in the States, I felt it was well worth the money to get my camera going again.