Whenever I travell somewhere, no matter how old I was/am, I often asked myself the question “would I like to live here”. An invitation from a friend who once lived in the town of San Miguel de Allende took me to Quito, the capital of Ecuador.
Peter did not enjoy SMA as much as I did and his stay in San Miguel lasted only 4 months and so his next choice as a working expat was to Quito. High in the Andes of South America at an altitude of 2,850 m (9,350 ft) it too is a colonial town that once belonged to Spain, I thought the British were bad at forcefully building Empires, but Spain didn’t too badly at raping and pillaging the lands all over the globe. So I decided to leave my Mexican town for 3 weeks in Ecuador.
My flight on COPA airlines (Panamanian Airline) was the best I can remember in decades. Like service used to be, with flight attendants that are actually happy to service you and not just be there “for your safety”. My flight was from Mexico City, Bogota Columbia and then on to Quito. The second leg was only a 1.5-hour flight, but even then a meal and hot beverages were served by very young, enthusiastic and willing flight attendants.
My first impression of this capital was that it was so “European” with a very good mixture of 300-year-old buildings and an ultra-modern skyline. The whole place had a very good vibe. Although Peter did warn me about not going out after dark..which really surprised me. Not wanting to put his idea to the test, I heeded his advice. Some great modern shopping malls (a great social place), fantastic bus system both in town and inter-provincial. Like so many cultures, put that same relaxed man or woman, that earlier that day was sipping on a latte for 2 hours just watching the world go by, behind the wheel of a car and zoooooom. They are so impatient that the horn is used to tell people to get out of their way! Very sad and very odd behaviour.
I was in Quito for a week in June.. the dead of Winter.. but the geography and climate is, to me, very odd in many ways. The city literally lays exactly on the Equator, so why on earth would there be a winter or a summer? Turns out that one the biggest and coldest ocean currents on earth is the Humboldt Current and flows right up the left side of South America bathing the coast of Ecuador with “cool”water. Add to this that the largest jungle, the Amazon, on Earth which lies to the east of Ecuador and the ocean to the west with the Andes squeezed in between gives this country a very odd mix of climate. I was actually on the Equator and I was too cold!! OK I was also at a high altitude, but still, it boggled my mind that the weather could be so cold and damp. Be forewarned, several people have issues with living at altitude. So if you enjoy stuff like breathing and having your heart beat on a regular basic.. then go to Quito for a visit first to see if your body is up to the task at these elevations.
The next city I want to visit in Ecuador is Cuenca, it is supposed to be the cultural capital of Ecuador, just as San Miguel is supposed to be to Mexico.