From Austin, TX to Quito, Ecuador is pretty close right?
Hmm, ok it is closer than traveling from Europe.
My friend Simon was traveling around South America, and we realized that we were close enough to meet and travel together for 2 weeks.
So, I booked a flight from Austin to Miami and then to Quito. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador, and it is the highest capital city in the world, 3000 AMSL.
I arrived at the airport, which is about 25 km from the city centre and, luckily, met a girl at the airport who offered me a ride, so I saved 20 USD.
I got a taxi to the address that Simon had given me and tried to have a conversation with the taxi driver, but he did not speak any English and I did not speak any Spanish. He left me on a different street, so I was walking around the area around midnight and searching for an almost 2 m tall blond European. I found him, and we had a great meet up after almost 2 years! We had been classmates at Uni.
Simon had been working in Canada for one year, and then he started traveling for one year. In Canada, he had lived with cool people from Ecuador, and they had offered to let him stay in their family house with their parents in Quito. Simon invited me there.
The first morning I met Mary and Eduardo, very nice and friendly people. Unfortunately, I did not speak any Spanish and they did not speak English, so we used body language and our lovely translator, Simon. :-D
We did not have any plans for Ecuador before my arrival, so we planned everything on the way, and it was a very relaxing exploration of Ecuador. The first day was chilly, and I had to manage some tasks for my business, so in the afternoon we went to the city centre. When we got there, we walked around, had a long conversation about life, and got dinner in a local restaurant.
We felt very much at home. Mary and Eduardo took care of everything. She prepared an unbelievable breakfast every morning, and sometimes she cooked local food for us. Thank you very much!
We took a small trip around the city, and on my 3rd day in Quito, we got a brilliant idea to hike Pichancha, which is 4800 AMSL. Yes, almost 5 000 m without acclimatization. Really good idea! :-D At 4500 I got a headache; it was difficult to breath, so we went back to city centre. I went to bed around 6 PM and woke up the next morning at 8 AM; luckily, everything was ok.
We took another trip to Cayambe National Park, but we set the GPS to Cayambe and took a bus somewhere, really somewhere. We ended up about 30 km away from where we wanted to visit. We spent about 5 hours on a bus and saw a lot of Ecuadorian nature.
The problem was that we wanted go hiking but almost all of the mountains were over 4000 m high, so we were not acclimatized. Fortunately, I met Talash, a girl from Kenya who had an internship in Ecuador, and she gave me many tips on what to do. I explained all the tips to Simon, compared those with tips his friend David from Canada, and made an itinerary for the next few days.
We went to Banos, which is an outdoor heaven in Ecuador: hiking, biking, ziplines, Spa, waterfalls, and much more. We rented bikes, went to waterfalls, and when we were totally exhausted, we jumped into hot pools to relax.
We spent our last few days on the coast in the party village Montanita. We expected a perfectly blue sky with white sand, but we had some cloudy, rainy days. One day, though, we had a good party—open bar for 10 USD, and the party place was ours. :-D The next day we just chilled, and a day later, we went to Isla de Plata, which they say is like Galapagos in terms of the wild nature, but to be honest, I expected more. It was a nice boat trip, but I expected to see more animals. The last day we had blue sky and great waves, so we went surfing!
To sum up this trip: I expected nothing from Ecuador, and it stole my heart. For the first half of the trip, it was because of Mary and Eduardo, who took care of everything, and for the second half of the trip, it was because of the amazing culture, beautiful landscapes, and very good travels with my buddy Simon.
PS: Yes, I have almost forgotten: some people stole my hoodie and raincoat on the bus one day. I had put a small bag with my hoodie, raincoat, and food above my head, and some street sellers who came to the bus probably took it. So watch out for your stuff.
Pictures with * are made by Simon. :-) You can follow him on instagram https://www.instagram.com/onehellofatrip/