Quito: Life in Thin Air

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At 9,000 feet above sea level Quito takes some getting used to.  Our VRBO host, Francisco, insisted we take it easy. A costumed bell hop lugged our suitcases a block so we wouldn’t have to. Then Francisco drove us up a steep hill to the apartment. As per the travel guides, we stayed hydrated. Donna took B-12 tablets. I refused them. Then we napped.

We walked down the hill to Plaza Grande for lunch. With Ecuador’s Presidential elections coming up there was a lot of flag waving in front of the Presidential Palace. The current President is subject to term limits and can’t run again. No one seems to know which way the winds will blow come February.  They’d prefer to talk about Trump.

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We circled the plaza looking for a likely place to eat. What is immediately obvious is that every nook and cranny is open for some kind of business. If you want socks, a Frozen lunchbox, spools of thread, hats, scarves, or a bowl of jello someone is strolling around selling them. Five closet sized restaurants were tucked side by side into brick wall. We picked one and ordered a thick Ecuadorean soup  (locro)  with corn, potatoes, avocado, and cheese. Careful application of the local salsa hadn’t been advised. We came close to going past the point of no return. Whew! Steaming bowls of locro were exactly what we needed.

On the way back to our place we stopped by the Super-Mercado and picked up some papayas and a couple of yellow and purple football shaped cucumbers. Then we faced the long walk back up the hill. About a block in, altitude sickness kicked in. Your head gets light. Your legs turn into tubes of pliable concrete. You are sucking air. A line of taxis and private vehicles chugs by blowing clouds of blue smoke. Looking back to see how far you have come you realize you are someplace new. At that moment Donna and I caught each other’s eye. Another adventure was beginning!  We smiled!!!

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