About Town, Quito, Ecuador
It seems that every South American city neatly tucked into the Andes enjoys their cable cars to high above viewpoints and Quito is no exception. The views are fantastic. I always enjoy this as a first step to getting aquatinted with a city.
From 4,053 meters up, natural surroundings and concrete vastness collide as the buildings roll with the hills inside the large valley. Spiking volcanos and snowy, mountainous tops surround the sprawl from all sides like a picket fence. The arial perspective gives Quito the look of being larger than its 2 million inhabitants.
In case you find yourself bored of gazing upon the panoramic wrap there’s an amusement park at the top that rivals the sturdiest of state carnival rides. A safer bet is the well stocked arcade. Top of the world fun.
Back on the ground plumes of black soot from city buses sputter out so thickly not even the rails are safe for grabbing as you lose your head to the dizzying black clouds. Instinct tells me to hold my breath but between that and the elevation proper inhalation proves to be a challenge. The pollution is shockingly bad.
Ducking into a market for a bite to eat is a happy distraction from the busy city traffic. In the early afternoon tightly crammed plastic seats fill up quickly in small stalls. The Ecuadorian specialty that is always sure to be found is whole roasted pig. Sellers happily slice up dark and light pieces and a healthy helping of chicharrónes to boot. You best believe the entire pig, down to the bone, is used. The plate comes with potatoes smashed, mashed, or made into cakes, along with a simple lettuce and tomato salad and avocado slices. And for whatever less than efficient reason, always served with a spoon.
Old colonial towns always offer abundant architectural exploration and like every God-loving, Catholic, South American city it’s full of ornate churches and people filled squares.
Quito is nice enough but I’ve started to get my fill of big, colonial themed, latin cities and I said goodbye rather quickly. Smaller towns and culture call. On to the famous little town of Otavalo for my favorite exploration of markets.