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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Trek back to US of A - Cuenca to Quito

This little story details my travels from Cuenca back to the Seattle area for 2 weeks.  Purpose of trip?  Retrieving my baby girl Gracie (dog in case you don’t know it) to bring back to Cuenca, and for my Mommy’s 80th birthday….not necessarily in that order. 

First, I needed to arrange a taxi to the airport in CUE, but almost of them are too small to fit the dog kennel in.  My friend Wilson, a taxi driver, arranged for his uncle to take me in his station wagon. 

LUCKILY, late on the night before, I happened to check my flight information on LAN’s website.  The flight WAS due to depart at , therefore I arranged for the taxi to pick me up at .  I was shocked to see the flight had been bumped up an hour to .  They never notified me.  At the last minute I had to scramble to bump up my taxi pickup, too, but Wilson’s uncle doesn’t have a cell phone, so he was hard to reach.  Wilson was able to call someone with a cell phone that worked next to his uncle’s and relayed the message to him.   Interesting that my flight ORIGINALLY was to leave at , then changed to , then changed to ….none of which was I automatically notified by email.  I wonder how many other people didn’t know of the change?  Because, the flight maybe only had maybe 50 people on it. 

Cuenca airport, as I mentioned before, is very small…maybe 4-5 gates and no jetways.  When you arrive at the airport, it feels like 5 steps to the ticket counter, and 12 more to the gate.  Compare what you know about going thru security in the US to:   not having to take shoes off, not having to take computer out of bag, don’t care about liquids.  And, you walk out onto the tarmac to board and, very cool, you get to board either at the front or the rear of the plane.  Makes boarding very quick versus the typical, awful, frustrating, hatchet-murder-inducing process in the states.

A 35-minute bumpy flight later on a 737 and I was in Quito.  Quito (kee toh) is Ecuador’s capital and has over a million in population, right?  Well, it’s airport is also tiny…only a few gates and only TWO baggage claim belts!!!  Minutes later I had my bags and headed out the door to my pre-arranged waiting van.  A $10, 20 minute ride thru Quito up, and down, and over, and around I arrived at my hostal ‘Secret Gardens’.   SG is a squashed into a hillside, a very skinny but tall property.  A sign as you enter the front door informs you the reception desk is on the 5th floor outdoor deck, plop your luggage down and ‘come on up’.  UP INDEED!!!  Straight up very tightly winding narrow stairs.  I mean, remember, Quito is already at 9,000 ft and by the time you get to the rooftop deck you feel as though you've arrived at 10,000 ft, and you dread the idea of dragging your heavy luggage up any of those stairs.  Luckily, they gave me a room on the first level ($26). 

The rooftop deck is definitely the place to hang out…where I’m writing this from.  I’m looking out across an amazing topography.  Quito is a city built at the foot of a huge volcano.  The city is comprised of hills and valleys and more hills and valleys.  It makes San Francisco look wimpy.  The neighborhoods and city in general sweep right up the sides of the hills and down the others.  What is amazing is the neighborhoods that go up, up, up the slopes of what is at least a 1,000 ft hill as if it was creeping up past your ankles and headed for your knees.  Too bad my pictures can do justice as the 3 dimensional aspect of it is lost.  On one tall knoll (double the height of Queen Anne in Seattle) is a huge statue, an angel with wings overlooking the city.

I will have to come back to Quito to explore it later.  After all, it only cost $50 to fly here.  So far, this is my second time here and seen none of it as it has only been a stopover to a next-day flight.  Speaking of which, mine leaves at 6:15 am, so I’m gonna have to get up at 3:30 and pull myself together for all day travel tomorrow (Miami – Chicago – Seattle).

Later!!!


Cuenca airport passenger waiting area...that's all of it.

All Aboard!!!

Cuenca Airport Terminal....massive ain't it?



Quito - Angel statue on top of large hill (as viewed from my hostal)
 

View from rooftop deck of my hostal

Cool figurines on the rooftop deck of my hostal

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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