Friday, December 29, 2006

Quito

Travel can make you weary, with all the wonder and excitement, amazing sites, people and places you can still find your mind wandering home. We live in such and amazing country. It´s safe and clean. The people are by and large friendly and we have such amazing natural beauty, it´s a shame we don´t always appreciate and too many of us spend time bemoaning the things we think are wrong in ´´gods own´´.
Quito thankfully was a welcome respite after the last few days of hijinks and capers in Peru. Our journey post-border took us through Marchala, Ecuador´s 4th largest city and I would bet one of the few with 1/4 million people and no movie cinema....!
As the self proclaimed Banana capital of the world it has plenty of my favourite fruit though! Unfortunately however hard we tried the abundance of bananas couldn´t occupy us for an entire day so when the time came to leave we were pretty stoked!
Quito is great. Muy tranquilo, with plenty of places to eat, drink, salsa and a beautiful cityb to boot. The people are friendly and helpful, it has a beautiful old town with colonial iglesias, edificios and an imposingly awesome basilica dominating the skyline and a new town with bars, restaurants and plenty of dancing.
A good walk, great sites and a night out dancing helped to reinvigorate these weary travellers.
And one more thing to add to our Sth America experiance...a riot!...
We were trying to catch a bus out of Quito to visit the ´Mitad del Mundo´ (equator) and were a little perplexed as to why there was no traffic on the (normally busy) stretch of road that we were to catch the bus from. We were even more surprised to see a bus do a U-turn OVER the low median barrier to turn away from the stop! But this is Sth America and people do drive a little ´loco´!
The true story became evident when we got sick of waiting and stood up to look down the street and lo and behold not 20m from where we were sitting there were kids in face scarves throwing rocks, bottles and molotov cocktails at heavily armed riot police who were returning fire with tear gas!
As the fray seemingly heaved and pulsed and edged closer to us we decided that voyeurism was possibly not the fetish of the day and with clouds of gas erupting around us we picked our way back to the hostel. Walking back we were surprised a few times to round a corner only to be confronted with more cannisters of tear gas and street fires! Strangely it was not scary in the slightest, in fact we didn´t feel intimidated or threatened at any time at all in Ecuador and I really hope that the riots we saw were a passing thing and don´t escalate like the riots and social upheaval that nearly engulfed and destroyed the country in the early 2000s.
Ecuador is a great place and I just hope that the social inequality and political corruption can be dealt with to allow this place of enormous wealth to take it´s rightful place among the truly developed nations of the world.

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