May 7th, at a much more reasonable time in the morning, we departed from the airport in Cusco and again flew to Lima (always transfer never stay) and then to Quito, Ecuador. Quito has a new airport which is located approximately 90 minutes from the centre of the city where we were staying. We got into a registered taxi and made our way. Unfortunately, we caught rush hour but still arrived at the hotel (the Mecure Alameda) at a reasonable hour. We celebrated our arrival with Pisco sours (these were complementary). We finally had a free day which was May 8th. We did walk in the morning from the hotel in the surrounding district which was quite safe as it is heavily used by tourists and consequently well policed. We were able to get some shopping done which was great. I then took the afternoon to catch up on the blog. Anna took the opportunity to visit a very interesting national museum which was located nearby. The next day we were going to join some of our group who were arriving early in Quito for a city bus tour.
Thankfully, no pictures were taken this day as I was quite behind in processing the previously taken pictures from Peru for the blog.
Quito (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkito]), formally San Francisco de Quito, is the capital city of Ecuador, and at an elevation of 9,350 feet (2,800 meters above sea level), it is the highest official capital city in the world. (La Paz, the de facto capital of Bolivia, is higher.) It is located in north-central Ecuador in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes mountains. With a population of 2,671,191 according to the last census (2014), Quito is the second most populous city in Ecuador, after Guayaquil. It is also the capital of the Pichincha province and the seat of the Metropolitan District of Quito. During the daytime and in the tourist districts, it is quite safe to walk however robberies are quite common and you have to be quite careful and use common sense. Many people steal out of necessity and are very adept at this. While we were in Peru we did receive notification that one of our upcoming Galapagos group members had her rather expensive camera stolen without her knowledge. When we were out we kept personal possessions to a minimum and were very careful to carry minimal cash and only one credit card close to our bodies and in an inside pocket.
We stayed in Quito from May 7th through to the morning of May 11th, our departure date for the Galapagos. May 9th we did a Quito city tour involving visits to the Inti-nan Museum (home to the real equator), Virgin of Quito statue on Panecillo Hill overlooking Quito, lunch and then a walk about old town visiting Plaza Grande (Independence Square), Carondelet Palace, Iglesia De La Compania De Jesus and Convento San Francisco; later that evening we would return to old town by taxi for a meal and walk around the famous Calle La Ronda. On May 10th when all of our Galapagos group had arrived, we visited Otavalo, capital of Otavalo Canton, a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town has about 90,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura, Cotacachi, and Mojanda volcanoes and is famous for its Saturday market. The same day afterwards we visited Cotacachi, a city that is the seat of Cotacachi Canton, Imbabura Province, Ecuador in South America and is famous for its leather goods. I think the shopping was going to be good (said Anna)!