Nine Hours in Quito

Originally published 16 August 2015. 

Welcome, friends! Or shall I say, bienvenidos, amigos! My Love has whisked me away for the birthday trip of a lifetime to… The Galapagos! But first we needed to make a stop in the world’s highest capitol city: Quito, Ecuador! Off to Dulles (the DC airport closest to us)! Next stop, Houston! Final Destination, QUITO!

Lovebirds on a plane

We landed in Quito around 11:00pm in Ecuador, and we expected there to be someone from the hotel waiting for us, but it was not so! Steve had an email confirmation saying that someone would be there, but we quickly learned that there a little phenomenon called “Ecuadorian Time.” A kind man had heard us ask the information desk attendant if she knew anything about the hotel where the guy was supposed to be coming from (she said he’s usually next to the Friday’s restaurant; he was not), and he asked us if we wanted him to call the hotel to help us. We were so grateful! A nice lady showed up shortly thereafter with a sign that had our names on it. Hooray! But the driver had apparently not left the hotel yet. So we waited a little more.

But about 20 minutes later, he came through! Hip, hip, yea! Supposedly it’s a 10 minute ride from the airport. But for us we took the special time… 20 minutes. And when we ended up in an alley next to a huge wooden gate, I thought, “What have I gotten us into?!” But everything was fine. I’m sure the place looked beautiful and welcoming in the daylight, but we got the night time view both coming and going!

The room was small, but nicely decorated, and it had just what we needed… A bed and a toilet! We got as much sleep as we could, knowing it was midnight now, and we’d need to rise at 5:00am. Steve slept well for about 5 hours… Me? Not so much! I was afraid of missing our alarm, so I was more restless. Oh well! Up and at it! I’ll tell you a secret, though… It’s hard to remember to NOT put the toilet paper in the toilet when you’ve had less than 4 hours of sleep!

Oh, and don’t brush with the tap water!

Moving on… Back to the airport! One significant reason it was beneficial to go to the airport so early was that we got to see the sunrise over the Andes mountains! It really was breath-taking! The tallest ones have snow on the caps. Those were my favorites.

We left the hotel at 5:50 on the dot. Steve and I usually push our luck with airports in America because we are TSA Pre-checked and we can go through the faster lines (theoretically) with the more experienced travelers and keep all our bags packed and our clothes on. Not so elsewhere, and certainly not bound for the Galapagos! There were two extra check points we had to pass (to have our bags scanned for fruits and have our passports checked to get our boarding passes), and it took us 45 minutes just to get through those lines! Fortunately, Steve always has the wisdom to pack extra food (not fruits and veggies when going to other countries; usually bread with cheese and/or hummus), so we chowed down while waiting in one of the lines, and there was a place to get coffee on the other side! Unfortunately, I should have been braver to test out my rusty Spanish because I’m pretty sure I didn’t get what I tried to order! The menus on the wall were all in English, so I thought the barista would understand, but nope! Should have been braver. I’ll know for next time!

So there we were, drinking our coffee. This must have been the time they announced a gate change for our flight. Because when we got back to the gate where we had been assigned upon arrival, the time came and went for us to begin boarding… So I went to the bathroom, filled up my water bottle at the fountain, and when I got back a couple of minutes later, Steve said he checked the board, and they had changes our gate! Fortunately, it was only a couple of gates over!

We did, in fact, make it to our flight with time to spare! We started off with a pretty full flight, but all flights to the Galapagos from Quito, I think, must first stop in Guayaquil, on the Ecuadorian coast. This leg was only about 40 or so minutes. People got off the plane, more people got on the plane, and we were off again to our long-awaited destination… THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS! And actually, the airline we took–LAN–was one of the nicest flights I’ve been on! All the attendants were friendly and didn’t seem irritated by all the people who needed to use the restroom, and they brought beverages and THREE types of snacks: dried fruit and nuts, plantain chips, and a granola bar!

So then we made it! Join us next time for the journey to Puerto Ayora! It’s gonna be great!

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