Weekend flights have an additional stop in El Salvador which weekday flights don’t have, so I spent about half an hour in the San Salvador Airport. Re-boarded the same plane after they refueled and cleaned it and had a beautiful flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Gorgeous from the air – beautiful land, ocean, clouds, farm fields – it’s so Pandora-like in places down here. The San Jose Airport is amazingly efficient – it puts many States’ airports to shame.
We de-boarded to a bus which drove us 2 minutes to our next gate, got off the bus, climbed some stairs and voila! There was our connecting flight to Quito, Ecuador. They had free Internet in the waiting area, which is better than LAX which has only pay-as-you-go T-Mobile. Within about 15 minutes we boarded (after I checked free email) and had another excellent flight to Quito.
Quito is absolutely amazing from the air to fly in on. It occupies plateaus and valleys in a long corridor between ranges of mountains. Their population of about 1.5 million people are celebrating a holiday right now, but it is very quiet in the city. Apparently the city folk go to the small towns to have their noisy celebrations, so the cities get quiet.
I was greeted at the airport (after going through very easy visa and customs) by an official greeting party bearing my name and “Welcome” on the sign. How absolutely lovely and they whisked (and I do mean whisked…they drive like crazy) me away to my hostel and after the quickest check-in I’ve ever experienced, I climbed (huffed and puffed) up three flights of stairs (altitude here is 2850 meters elevation) and finally reached my room with my heart trying to explode through my rib cage. My room is very nice and is the only room in this hostel that has it’s own balcony, much like you’d see in Europe, with nice wrought iron fence and the balcony hanging out over the street. STUNNING views! And the hostel has free wi–fi – and a terrace roof-top to sit and work from while purveying the views.
There are lots of travelers here – from Denmark, Sweden, and other European countries I haven’t yet met. Needless to say I’m feeling quite rummy with fatigue (it’s 3 hours later here, so not only was my journey quite long, I also lost 3 hours) so I’m going in with Jacob, a young Dane with dreadlocks who works for the Chicago Hostel, and some of the other hostel guests on the bus to an area called New Town for dinner tonight (the bus ride costs .25 cents) and then come back and crash. I will get up around 5:30 a.m. tomorrow and a taxi will pick me up and take me back to the airport where I’ll catch my 8:30 a.m. flight on my journey to Vilcabamba, the Valley of Longevity. My flight should arrive in Loja around 9:30 where I will have another welcome party waiting for me with a taxi which will drive me 90 minutes to my hotel in Vilcabamba.
Even though I have zilch for energy right now, I love it down here. It’s quite mild and warm, lots of billowy clouds, amazing architecture and simply stunning and startling views everywhere. I’ll keep you posted as the trip unfolds.