Monday dawned early, long before my 7 a.m. alarm. Showered in the strangest shower stall I’ve ever been in – the water is delivered from so high up that by the time it reaches you it’s cooled considerably, and the opposite side of the stall from the shower head is split in half with a deep recess on one half, and the other half very close to the front wall of the shower…odd! But the warm water felt great! One appreciates the little things here that we take so for granted at home.
Walked all the way to the Mariscal area which is the hub of activity in New Town. The Quito map I had was less than clear, and the hefty load of diesel belching from all the busses going by almost turned me around to simply purchase a flight to Galapagos on my own through the internet and deal with lining up the boats over there. But I persisted.
After meandering around the Plaza Fuch area (don’t get excited, it’s not pronounced that way), and visiting 3 tourist agencies, I happened upon one that was perfect. The young woman spoke excellent English and she was a whiz on the computer. She had it nailed and she didn’t take any time about it. She found me the perfect Galapagos tour which will depart on Thursday on a Luxury Yacht and I’ll return to Quito on Sunday afternoon. I’ll visit 4 islands and see lots of wildlife and get to snorkel, kayak, hike and who knows what else! I placed a deposit as I didn’t have the full amount with me and told her I’d return in the afternoon.
Walked all the way back (it’s about 1.5 miles one way from Hostel to Travel Agency) and had to lie down for a moment – that much walking in this much warmth at this altitude – 9,500’…whew! It’s a sunny day today – first one I’ve had since being here, so it’s definitely warmer than the rest of the week – 28 Celsius.
A bit later in the afternoon I walked again all the way to the Tierra de Fuego Travel Agency (they’ve got 5 beautiful glass awards on their back shelf) and Lorena, my agent, was gone to lunch. So I went with the flow and wandered down the main boulevard and found a shop that made quite divine pastries and had one, and while I was in mid-bite my new Oregon friends, Laurel and Doug, walked up! What a shock to see them! It was great, considering we had just said good-bye yesterday morning at Hosteria Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba! And out of the entire city of Quito, which is 1.5 million strong, we happened to bump into each other at the same pastry store! Unbelievable.
They had just arrived to Quito on a flight, and they each took ice cream bars while I finished my pastry and we sat around and chatted awhile at the little outdoor table along the street in front of the sweet shop. Then a guitar player came up and even though Laurel told him no, he started to play and sing, so we stood up and walked away, and he followed and she told him in a big way “NO!” again and he walked away as we ducked into an beautiful shop filled with very expensive keepsakes, all made in Ecuador. After looking around a few minutes, we said our good-byes (til summer when I hope to visit them in Oregon) and I headed back to the travel agency.
My ticket to the Galapagos was all wrapped up and I was walking away when suddenly I realized I had forgotten to ask my agent, Lorena, about Mindo-Nambillo Protected Forest, an incredible botanical reserve that isn’t far away. I turned around and walked back into her office, and she said she’d try to get a tour together for Wednesday for that, but if not, I can always take to bus there and back (though it sounds a little sketchy). She asked me if I wanted to go to Papallacta Lake District and Hot Springs tomorrow, as they have a tour going for the day, but I have planned to visit my friend Johnny Douglass’s friend on the outskirts of Quito who has a sustainable farm with solar and more.
Walked all the way back to the Hostel again (2nd time today, and realized I must’ve walked 6 miles total). Passed a shop with a large poster showing every place where one could lose fat through the treatment they were offering. There are certainly enough people that could lose weight in this city. Looked similar to lipisuction only no invasion. Looked kinda like a scam, actually.
Later that evening I suddenly got a call from the great niece of the farmer I was supposed to meet tomorrow. Basically, they have Market Day tomorrow (like our Farmer’s Markets) and my visit doesn’t work well for them, so I thanked them very much anyway and said I’d tried to arrange to meet them in the Fall, if I return then.
After that call I dug out Lorena’s card and luckily it had her cell phone number on it, because by now it was 8:30 p.m. Called her and she put me on the books for the tour tomorrow to Papallacta. Wow! What luck! I’ll be picked up in the morning at 8:45 to rendezvous with the tour bus, and we’ll be back in the afternoon tomorrow around 2 p.m. This is supposed to be an incredible National Park at high elevation that has natural hot springs warmed by hot magma below the nearby active volcano. The flora and fauna should be quite different up there, and we will have a Nature Guide to explain it all to us on the tour.
Packed up for the little excursion tomorrow and am ready for that next, new adventure!