After a four hour flight from Miami, we arrived in Quito, Ecuador. By the time we landed, it was already dark so we took a cab directly to our hostel. We checked in, took a peak at the room and headed to the rooftop terrace to enjoy a few cervezas after our long travel day. We are so glad we went to the rooftop that first night because we ended up meeting a great group of people. Traveling in a large group made us feel safe. Plus, we were able to get a lot of good travel advice and explore the city with new people for three days. We miss you guys!!!
The next morning, Chris and I woke up and went on a quest for food. We headed to Mercado Central where we read you could find cheap and delicious Ecuadorian food. After meandering through all the food stalls, Chris ordered the papas con cuero ($1.50) and I had chorizo, eggs and a fried potato filled with cheese ($2). Let’s just say I made a better breakfast choice. We thought Chris’ cuero (pork) would be fried or grilled pork but it turned out to be pork skin, a lot of pork skin.
We also heard that it is typical to be served a soup with your breakfast or lunch so when they brought out Chris’ breakfast, I started eating the soup (left in the top photo above) while I waited for my meal to be ready. I thought the soup was incredibly flavorful and very spicy! A few minutes later, the waitress came by to take the “soup” to a different table. Turns out it was a really a bowl of aji (similar to salsa) and I was eating it straight out of the bowl…oops!
After lunch, we went to explore the city. We walked around Old Town and the Basilica del Voto Nacional.
That afternoon, we took the TeleferiQo (gondola) to the top of Quito for some stunning views of the city and surrounding Andes mountains, including Cotopaxi.We grabbed dinner ($3.00 for chicken or beef, rice, beans and fried bananas) with our friends from the hostel and went out for a few drinks before calling it a night. What a great first day/night!The next day we caught a bus ($0.40) for a 1.5 hour ride outside of Quito to Mitad del Mundo where you can visit the equator (or what we’ve been calling Middle Earth).That night, we went out to dinner with our friends from the hostel and scored the cheapest dinner we’ve found in Ecuador yet. For $1.60 per person, we had fresh guava juice, potato and cheese soup with pieces of pork, beef stew with rice, a potato pancake and salad. We went back to the hostel to play cards before everyone departed the next day for their respected destinations.The next morning, Chris and I caught a bus to Otavalo where we planned to stay for the next two nights. Otavalo is set in the northern highlands of Ecuador (about two hours north of Quito) and is very picturesque. The people are so nice and it’s been a great change of pace from the busy streets of Quito.Otavalo is famous for its large Saturday animal, crafts and food markets. We woke up and headed straight for the animal market. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen before. There were kittens, puppies ($1), guinea pigs, alpacas, goats, sheep, cows ($350), pigs ($90) and chickens ($8) all for sale. If a man was carrying a bag, there was likely a small pig or chicken in it. Women would have chickens and children strapped to their back at the same time.It was interesting to see ice cream and other food being sold right next to the livestock and animals.We’re pretty sure the food stalls serve some of the freshest pork and beef you can find.While walking around the food market, we saw a restaurant packed with people (always a good sign). We were led into the basement where we were clearly the only non-Ecuadorians. We both ordered the lunch special which included soup and were a little surprised when Chris’ soup came out with a full chicken foot in it. Yum! Good thing the rest of the meal was good (rotisserie chicken, rice and french fries for $1.50)!
Tomorrow we are hopping back on the bus to head to Baños, Ecuador. Hasta luego!