Friday I really didn’t do much... After arriving so late I tried to sleep in but jet lag woke me up at 7:00, I really did leave my internal clock somewhere over the Atlantic, the first few days I would crash completely at about 6pm. I was staying just outside of Quito with my sister’s second host family from her exchange 4 years ago that I had stayed with last year, such generous people! We did go for lunch at the Grandma’s, the food here is just as good if not better than I remember, it just has so much more flavour! It’s not necessarily my favourite food, but it is just the freshest and most intense.
Saturday I got a ride into Quito and met up with Chad. We did a lot of walking. Still trying to get myself oriented with the place, the customs and the language. We figured out the bus and eventually found our way to the artisan market after a detour through the New Town (gringo central). I was a bit disappointed with the market, there’s really nothing like Otavalo and think I will buy a few things for people here on the coast or later in my trip. Then we headed to the mall which is still weird for me, such a contrast, it’s too ‘normal’. Things have price tags on them! We got cell phones, that really was exciting. My number is 80751524 with 0 before in Ecuador or 593 for international. Afterwards we headed back to Chad’s hostel (Secret Garden). I had heard loads of good things about it and from the bit I got to see, seems pretty good. Good deal, clean, restaurant, tons of people and an amazing view from the terraza. We climbed up a ton of steps behind the hostel to a park place on the top of a hill that had a wonderful view of the city but compared to the parks in Europe, it was pretty deserted.
Sunday we eventually (key word in Ecuador) made our way into the city and met up with a cousin (Bethania) that I knew from last year, her friend from Brazil and Chad. We strolled around the Old Town and went to a museum about the history of Quito but it was a bit boring since I didn’t understand too much of it as the guide just talked a lot and my Spanish is well, under construction. Then we went to see a church (Iglesia de la Compañía) that is almost completely decorated with gold, crazy! After we went for lunch at a Colombian chain restaurant ‘Crêpes and Waffles” (I went last time too, and is it bizarre that a Colombian restaurant is French?) but it is delicious! Finally Chad and I went up the teleférico another 1000m to 4100m. The mountains here really are gorgeous. And what a view! Stunnning, you can see pretty much the whole city and it's very spread out, sprawling everywhere up the mountains. Last time I went it was night and foggy so we couldn’t see a thing, this time it was even worth paying twice the price since we’re foreigners. Unfortunately we got up there too late to hike very far and certainly not right to the volcán Pichincha but I think I could’ve, taking it slow, the altitude didn’t really affect me this time, just a bit short of breath.
Monday was a lazy day as well. I went to the mega-market to get things for sushi, you can buy anything there, except garlic and ripe avocados. (The easiest things to find on the street.) But expensive, about the same as at home, some of the sushi stuff a bit more expensive even. Then, we got back to the house and…. No fish!! It disappeared. We went straight back to the store but they said we must’ve dropped it, but it was the only thing missing. We think, since it was almost the last thing on the receipt that the person behind us ended up with it. Poor fish. Poor me, I had to buy a new one. Oh well! After figuring out the buses for the next day (kind of) and packing up my stuff, I made sushi (with help from the maid) for everyone (Kim’s two host families). It actually turned out! Perhaps not the best I have ever made but certainly not the worst either. For the adults it was the first time they had tried sushi so I think I left them with a good impression, though my sushi is not exactly traditional…. I even made that crazy Swedish dip (like creamy mango-garlic), so now I have a trademark. Japan meets Sweden and falls in love, it was a hit, screw wasabi and ginger!