Micah: Unmitigated

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Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

June 29th, 2010 at 17:22

Over the past week: I changed hemispheres a couple times, ventured deep into “Gringoland”, participated in the customary activities, and made it out nearly unscathed.

I arrived in Quito on Tuesday, the day before the 3rd US World Cup game. The next day, with the England game on at the same time and with me at the most popular sportsbar in town, I ran into 2 seperate brits I had met in Colombia. It was an exciting place to watch the game, with the England fans cheering on one side of the pub at their big screen, and us yelling at our smaller TV hanging over the bar. Only at the end was there much rejoicing and slapping of hands, and everyone left happy.

I proceeded to do my tourist duties and walked around checking out the museums, the Old Town, and numerous churches. Quito is actually a nice city, once you get away from all of the upscale bars and guys trying to sell you reefer. My favorite site was the “Basilica del Voto Nacional”, a gothic church set on a hill with towers you can climb.

view of city from tower

view of city from tower

Thursday, I checked another site off my list, the “Mitad del Mundo”or Equator. It is a silly place, with many shops and museums surrounding a line that they have drawn on the earth. I overpaid for one museum and for some reason decided to see a show at the planetarium, but more importantly got a picture of the sign.

the Ecuador, or is it?

The Equator, or is it?

The silliest thing about the whole place is that they have now determined using GPS that this is not the actual Equator. They were off by about a hundred meters and thus next door there is a smaller site with supposedly the real thing.  More importanly, they host the fun and games associated with changing hemispheres. They have water tricks showing a straight drain on the line and different directions a few feet on either side. Feats of strength were also performed, trying to show that there is less gravitational pull on the line, and I attempted to balance an egg on a nail. All very amusing, though the highlight of the day could have been that I was told I looked Israeli by a random Israeli girl on the bus back to town. I have always thought I looked too American and it was good to hear that as I cultivate more hair, I can assume another identity if needed. Though it would be tough to learn Hebrew and I don’t think my family would let me convert to Judaism.

Next on the Quito tourist list, a ride up the Teleferico. A cable car takes you up to about 4100 meters with great views of the city below. The main reason I paid the $8.50 foreigner price, was for the access to climb the last 700 meters to the top of Pichincha Volcano.

this is it

This is it

Another fun ridge with great weather and views. Less strenuous than the last volcano, the 2.5 hr hike only had me on the verge of quitting a few times. The people coming down told me that all you could see was the white of the clouds but I was blessed with semi-clear skies for my final ascent and time at the top. Some scrambling was required, which means I had to use my hands to climb rocks, but that made it more fun.

I am number 1

I am number 1

views on the way down

views on the way down

I found a way down from the top that didn’t require much reverse scrambling and had a blast following a sandy/ashy avalanche path that felt like skiing. It was a great break from all of the people back in town and at my hostel. But when I got back, I went ahead and joined the birthday celebration and had the first dance club  experience of my trip. It was a lot of fun to mingle with a big group of fellow travelers of all shapes, sizes, and itineraries. Especially when you meet a fellow kickballer who plays in D.C. and has enjoyed similiar success on the field.

With my tourist obligations complete, I layed around Saturday with the other revelers and watched the final US World Cup game.  Then we hit the local Mongolian grill restaurant where I nearly got down 4 plates of bland tasting concoctions, despite how much or what sauce I put on. Sunday I departed.

I am now in another market town called Latacunga. This one seems to be bustling everyday, with an area the size of 2 city blocks filled with fresh produce and random items. Despite being here for 2 days, I have not yet fully experienced the joys of this town, with my body apparently trying to remind me how old I am after my 5 nights in ¨The Party Hostel¨. I had dreaded entering Quito, hearing stories of muggings and pant slashings, but in the end I really enjoyed the big city. Now I long for the fresh air I breathed while on my volcano hike.  My next destination is the Quilotoa Loop, a bumpy circular route through the mountains with small towns and a spectacular crater lake. Voy a tratar de escribir más a menudo.

E = 56

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