Quito, Ecuador

14 12 2009

Quito, Ecuador

Quito is a gigantic city, the Washington D.C. of Ecuador.

I arrived in a cold downpour, zig-zagging the steep switchbacks at 50kph into the metropolicious valley. The rain, the switchbacks and the steepness of the hills everywhere reminded me of La Paz, Bolivia. But Quito is much, much greener.

Quito is more beautiful than any city I can think of. The Ciudad Antigua (Old Town) is loaded with colonial buildings, elaborate churches and cobblestone streets… plus it is surrounded by enormous volcanoes. It also has a decent public transportation system including an electric “Trole” that runs the length of the city. But here’s the best part: two sundays every month they close certain roads to traffic and let cyclists ride safely along miles of well-marked bike paths.

But, as I learned, if you ride on any other day Quito is Hell on Earth. I’m surprised I didn’t get hit by a car  (a fast-forward video of the mayhem is coming soon).

I’m also surprised I didn’t get robbed. Nearly every tourist I have met has been robbed in Ecuador and/or Peru. Many of my friends have returned to hostels to announce they just had a knife pulled on them in the middle of the day, or their backpack was stolen from a bus.  It’s hard to believe I have made it through both Peru and Ecuador without getting robbed. I credit my dirty fingernails for that. I don’t go anywhere without my knife anymore, which I take out of my pocket to clean my nails if I feel unsafe.

Anywho, I got my work done in Quito. A cleat screw had been poking through my shoe into left foot for a while. Back in Macas I installed a flat, plastic disc cut from a peanut butter jar which has been protecting my foot for a while. But my Crank Bros. Egg Beater C pedals were also starting to rust and needed new bearings that would have to be ordered from far away. Whenever there is an issue on this tour, the solution is often to simplify. So I donated my shoes, pedals, and an extra pair of cleats to a bike shop, bought a new pair of cheap $10 platform pedals and was back on the road pronto.

Speaking of simplifying, did you hear about the “100 Things Challenge”? Apparently there is a small movement of people who are attempting to own only 100 things. Aguynameddave is living with only 100 possessions for a year, with a few exceptions.

Thanks to Tania for bringing this to my attention: “The 100 Thing Challenge fights irresponsible consumerism” http://www.guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge.html

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